Dental implants can replace missing teeth and restore the full function of your mouth, enabling you to eat a wider variety of foods with greater ease. While it can be intimidating to undergo surgery and wait for the dental implants to fuse with your jawbone, it will undoubtedly be worth it once they result in a strong foundation. With proper care, you can minimize discomfort and risk of complications during the healing process, getting you closer to optimal oral health.

1. Take it easy.

Take a day or two off work after surgery for your body to rest and recover. This gives the anesthesia time to wear off and any swelling or discomfort to decrease. Be sure to engage only in non-strenuous activities and exercise to avoid excess bleeding and allow the surgical site to heal.

2. Avoid disturbing the surgical site.

Try to keep your tongue and fingers away from the implant site, so you do not dislodge any blood clots or irritate the sutures. Since your mouth will still be numb, you can use a towel or tissue to wipe away saliva rather than spitting. Steer clear of carbonated beverages, hot liquids, and straws as well. Drink directly from the glass or bottle as the force of the suction from a straw can cause bleeding and disrupt healing.

3. Apply ice packs or moist heat.

If you experience swelling or discomfort, wrap an ice pack or frozen vegetables in a towel and gently press it against the outside of your cheek in 20-minute intervals. After the first 24 to 48 hours, switch to moist heat instead. Swelling should subside within a few days, and prescription medications or over-the-counter pain relievers can help reduce discomfort and swelling.

4. Use pressure to stop bleeding.

If the dental implant site begins to bleed, bite down firmly on a piece of damp gauze for 30 to 45 minutes, holding steady pressure. You can also use a cool, moist tea bag, as the tannic acid helps to constrict blood vessels and stop bleeding. During the night, be sure to sleep with your head elevated to minimize bleeding as well as swelling.

5. Eat a soft diet.

Remember that it will take several weeks for the dental implant to integrate with your jaw and be able to support a replacement tooth. A temporary crown is only for aesthetics and is not meant to be used for intense biting or chewing. Stick with soft foods for the first several days, such as soup, mashed potatoes, pudding, scrambled eggs, yogurt, or well-cooked pasta. As your mouth begins to heal, you can slowly incorporate other foods making sure to chew away from the surgical site.

6. Keep your mouth clean.

While you do not want to rinse your mouth the day of surgery, the following day, you can begin swishing with a warm salt water mixture. Continue brushing the rest of your teeth as normal, avoiding the dental implant. This will help reduce the risk of infection and keep the remaining teeth healthy.

7. Follow the doctor’s instructions.

Our doctors will provide you with detailed instructions for post-operative care following dental implants. Read through any documents you receive and ask questions if anything is unclear. Do not be afraid to call your oral surgeon if you have any concerns. Shortly after recovery, you will be asked to return to the office in about two weeks for a follow-up appointment to ensure healing is progressing correctly.

Enjoy A Beautiful Smile with Dental Implants

Once osseointegration is complete in about 12 weeks, we will prepare the dental implant for your permanent crown, which will be created and placed by your restorative dentist. At this point, you can enjoy the benefits of a full smile and continue caring for your dental implant like a natural tooth.

If you have any questions about dental implants, post-operative care, or what to expect, reach out to Coastal Virginia Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery.