How to Care for Your Teeth After a Dental Implant Procedure

If you’ve got (or will soon have) dental implants, you’re in good company. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, about three million people in the U.S. have dental implants and about 500,000 more people get implants every year. Implants offer lots of advantages over dentures and bridges, including a more natural look and a more comfortable and secure fit. Plus, since they help stimulate the natural bone replacement cycle, they can even prevent jaw bone atrophy that typically occurs when dentures or bridges are chosen to replace one or more missing teeth.

Dental implants from Aquila Dental can be a wise investment in your oral health and your self-confidence too. But once you have implants, you’ll probably be wondering about the best way to care for them, both during the recovery period and beyond. The good news is, caring for your implants over the long term is pretty simple: Regular brushing (with a soft brush), flossing, and routine dental checkups and cleanings every six months are typically all it takes to keep your implants in good shape. In other words, you can care for them in the same way you care for your natural teeth. But during the initial recovery period, after your implants are placed, you’ll need to follow some special instructions to care for your implants and the surrounding gums.

Right after placement

First, it’s really important to avoid disturbing the immediate area around the implant for the first day. During this very early stage of healing, the gum tissues around the implant will be sore and inflamed, and they’ll also be in the initial process of reattaching around the implant to help stabilize it and prevent infection. You shouldn’t rinse, suck on a straw, or spit during this phase, nor should you touch or prod the area. It’s common to have some bleeding during the first day or so after your surgery. Use gauze pads to help control bleeding when needed, biting firmly on the pad and changing pads frequently. You’ll also have some swelling (similar to having a wisdom tooth removed). Swelling and any accompanying discomfort can be relieved with an ice pack wrapped in a towel and applied to your cheek during the first 36 hours or so after your procedure.

You should drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and also to aid in healing. On the day of surgery (and probably for a few days afterward), you should restrict your dietary choices to soft foods and absolutely avoid hot foods and drinks. Before leaving the office, you’ll receive a prescription for antibiotics and pain medication, which should be taken as directed. You can also use over-the-counter pain medicine like Tylenol or ibuprofen.

As far as oral hygiene, you’ll need to use a special mouth rinse, and you can also rinse with salt water to help reduce swelling. You can brush your teeth according to the schedule and instructions provided by the dentist (typically beginning the night you have the implants placed), but just be very gentle around the implant area while it heals, and use a soft brush.

The first few weeks

You’ll need to avoid strenuous physical activity and lifting during the early healing stages to give the area plenty of time to heal without exertion or strain. If you’re using your implants to retain a denture, you’ll need to wait about 10 days before “snapping” the denture in place. You'll also be visiting our office fairly frequently so we can check on the implant and your healing progress. Keeping these appointments is critical to the success of your implant procedure, so don't skip any visits. 

Don’t skip your oral hygiene routine either. Brushing with a soft brush and flossing is important for keeping the gum tissue around your implants as healthy as possible. Many patients incorrectly think that because the implant is not a “real” tooth, it doesn’t need as much care. But unless the gums around your implant stay healthy, you can develop an infection that can cause the implant to fall out or necessitate its removal. Continue to use salt water rinses and follow all the other directions the dentist gives you throughout this phase. Once healing is complete, you can begin caring for your implants just like you care for the rest of your teeth.

Learn more about dental implants

Dental implants are a great alternative to dentures and bridges, and once that healing phase is over, they can be cared for just like the rest of your teeth. To learn more about dental implants and how they can help you enjoy a beautiful, confident smile, book an appointment online today.

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