Once you make the decision to get dental implants to reverse tooth loss and regain your old smile, you will want to be prepared for what is going to come next. That means understanding what dental implants are, how they are put in, and the many benefits they offer.
It also means having a good idea of what will happen post-op. Specifically, you want to understand how to care for your new teeth both immediately after the procedure and more long term as well.
Here is what you need to know about taking good care of your dental implants and your new smile!
1. Immediately After Dental Implant Surgery
Properly caring for yourself and for your new teeth following dental implant surgery begins immediately. The first thing to do is to make sure you have someone else lined up to help out by driving you home from the periodontist’s office. You won’t want to attempt driving on your own right after a dental procedure.
Next, you should have some kind of pain killer ready for when the anesthetic administered by your periodontist begins to wear off. Typically, you can use ibuprofen, Tylenol, or another over the counter painkiller. Your periodontist may provide or recommend to you a specific drug.
You shouldn’t take painkillers more frequently than once every six hours or so, though exact “rules” may vary with the drug. Some level of pain is normal and may continue for a few days or so. If it continues longer or is too strong, you may need a prescription for a stronger painkiller, but this is not normally necessary.
It’s important to avoid touching the area directly affected by the implant surgery for the first few days and to brush and floss gently. Don’t brush or floss directly at the implant site. Just use an antiseptic mouth rinse and gently gargle with water until the area isn’t so sensitive.
It is also possible that a small amount of bleeding of the gums or of swelling of the gum tissue around the new dental implants could occur. Immediately after the procedure, you may want to bite down on a gauze pad for up to an hour and repeat every 6 to 12 hours if necessary until bleeding stops and swelling subsides.
You can also bite down, gently, on a bag of black tea. The tannic acid in the black tea helps to constrict vessels and assist in blood clotting, which stems bleeding. In extreme cases, you should contact your dentist or get medical assistance, but again, there is rarely more than minor bleeding to deal with.
Also, note that using an ice pack can help reduce any swelling. A moderate amount of swelling is normal on the first day following surgery, and there may be a bit of discoloration visible around the eyes and nose for a few days. Using an ice pack on the affected area for 15 minutes at a time can help significantly.
2. Going Forward With Your Dental Implants
After the first few days, you won’t notice the same kind or degree of possible symptoms anymore. But there will be some ongoing oral care to attend to.
First of all, it’s imperative that your teeth, gums, implants, and whole mouth be clean during the healing process. Infection must be avoided at all costs. Although dental implants rarely fail (they have about a 99% success rate), infections account for most of the 1% fail rate.
You will want to use a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush your teeth, dental implants, and gums.
You should use floss too. Be gentle, but make sure you get it all. Particles of food left lodged between implants can lead to gum infections in your inter-implant spaces. Avoid using an electric toothbrush until your mouth has fully healed. Use a mouth rinse every day.
Also, you may want to wash out your mouth with a glass of warm water with a teaspoon of salt dissolved in it after every meal. This does wonders in preventing gum disease and keeping your mouth clean and healthy!
Following the right diet will also help you keep your implants and any natural teeth in top condition. You will need to avoid hot foods and drinks, spicy foods, and sharp foods like potato chips right after the surgery. Going forward, you can enjoy your normal diet again, but you may want to adjust and cut back on sweets. Drinking plenty of water and getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is a good long-term diet choice.
Finally, you should give up smoking and excessive drinking if you practice either presently. These have an ill effect on your gums and teeth and slow down the healing process.
3. Thinking About a Long-term Care Strategy
You may get your new teeth in only a day or two, but they can last for a lifetime. You need to have a long-term plan for good oral care.
The first thing to do is just be alert. Take time to look over your implants and oral cavity during your teeth-brushing time. If you notice any potential problems developing, be quick to contact your periodontist for advice.
You will want to schedule one or more follow-up visits to your periodontist’s office post-op. He or she will make sure your mouth is healing properly and your dental implants are working correctly. After that, you should have at least one or two periodontal checkups annually to ensure all is continuing to go well with your implants and your overall oral health.
To learn more about aftercare and long-term care of today’s dental implants, contact the dental implant experts at Ormond Beach Periodontics & Implant Dentistry in Central Florida!