If you’re a candidate for dental implants, congratulations. You’re well on your way to restoring your smile and bite. While many patients are naturally eager for the end result — it’s important to remember that dental implants are installed over a series of appointments, often weeks or even months apart. Your gums and jaw need time to heal after each stage of the process in order to prevent painful side effects, long term damage, and to allow gums and bone to form around the implant. While the process may take some time, getting your smile and bite back is well worth the wait.
For dental implant surgery to be successful, patients must take time to prepare for the procedure and take the necessary steps to promote recovery. If you’re planning to receive dental implants, here is everything you need to know to prepare ahead:
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are permanent, artificial teeth. They consist of a small piece of titanium foundation that is secured to your jaw and acts as a root, an abutment, and a crown. Dental implants feel and behave like real teeth and can last several decades with good care. As a result, they are often the best solution for patients who have experienced tooth loss from periodontitis.
Evaluating Your Teeth and Jaw
Before dental implants can be installed, your periodontist may need to remove any damaged existing teeth. He or she will also evaluate your jawbone to make sure it is thick enough to support dental implants. If it’s too weak, bone grafting might be required. Bone grafting is a process where the bone is removed from another area and used to strengthen the jaw. If this is required, you’ll likely need to give your jawbone several weeks to regrow mass before moving forward with dental implants.
Preparing For Dental Implants
While dental implants are a common procedure, the actual experience can vary by patient. The number of implants, as well as the health of your jaw and gums, will determine the complexity of the procedure as well as the length of recovery.
For complex procedures, your periodontist may recommend IV sedation. For simpler surgeries, you might be able to get by with local anesthesia. The type of anesthesia will play a large role in how you prepare for the surgery. Below is a short list of things you’ll need to consider prior to your first procedure.
- Transportation – If your periodontist recommends sedation, you’ll need to arrange transportation as you won’t be able to drive yourself home. Consider asking a friend, family member, or neighbor, to pick you up from your appointment.
- Eating And Drinking – If your procedure involves sedation, it’s important to come to the office with an empty stomach. You will likely need to fast for a minimum of 8 hours prior to the procedure, but your periodontist will confirm. If you’re not receiving any type of sedation, it’s generally ok to eat a light meal before the surgery.
- Practice Good Oral Hygiene – Keeping your mouth clean in the weeks leading up to dental implant surgery is critical. Germs and bacteria can lead to serious infections after the incision. Your periodontist may prescribe anti-bacterial mouthwash or antibiotics in the weeks leading up to surgery.
- Dress Comfortably – The procedure itself can take a couple of hours, so you’ll want to be as comfortable as possible. We recommend wearing loose-fitting clothing and avoiding wearing lots of jewelry.
- Lifestyle Changes – Your periodontist may recommend that you stop smoking, drinking alcohol, or eating certain types of foods prior to dental implant surgery.
What To Expect During The Procedure
Because dental implant surgery often takes place over the course of several weeks or months, you’ll likely need to attend 3 or 4 office visits, as well as a couple of follow-ups to ensure everything is healing as expected.
The first procedure is the installation of the titanium implant. Your periodontist will make an incision in your gums and connect the actual implant to your jawbone. Afterward, you’ll need to give your jaw and gums several weeks to heal and grow around the implant.
Once it has healed, your provider will then connect an abutment to the top of the implant. The abutment is essentially the placement for the crown. Following the abutment setting, your gums will need another few weeks to heal. During this time, your periodontist will take an impression of your teeth and will begin creating the crown. During a third procedure, the periodontist will set the crown in the abutment.
Most patients who receive local anesthesia report feeling slight discomfort and vibrations throughout the process. However, because sedation or anesthesia is used, you should experience little pain during the procedure itself.
What To Expect After The Procedure
After each stage of dental implant surgery, you might feel soreness, bruising, swelling, or bleeding while your gums and jaw recovers. This is usually most severe in a day or two following the office visit. After a couple of days, any remaining symptoms should be mostly mild. In order to ensure a fast and successful recovery, your doctor will recommend:
- Lots Of Rest – Rest is key to helping your gums and jaw heal quickly. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep and take a couple of days off of work if needed.
- Eat Soft Foods – Your mouth will be fairly sore after each procedure, so try to stick to mostly soft foods. Stock up on your favorite items prior to surgery so you don’t have to run out to the store.
- Avoid Strenuous Activity – Avoid lifting heavy items or working out at the gym for at least three days after each appointment.
- Good Oral Hygiene – Dental implants can last decades, but the key to longevity is taking good care of them. After the procedure, you’ll need to maintain excellent oral hygiene and visit your dentist for regular cleanings.
Dental implants can be a relatively complex surgery, so preparation and care are very important. By following your periodontist’s instructions, you’ll be well on your way to a brand new smile in no time.
If you’re considering dental implants in Volusia County, contact us at Ormond Beach Periodontics. We’re not only experts in implant dentistry, we’re dedicated to providing a safe, comfortable experience for each and every one of our patients.