Dental implant placement can take as long as 4-12 months for some people, and you’re probably excited to have your posts placed and move on with your life. However, your brand new implants need to be treated with care after surgery, which is why you should be familiar with these top five tips for caring for post-operational dental implants.
1. Maintain A Soft Food Diet
After dental implant posts have been placed, they start to fuse with your jawbone—a process that can take several months. Modern dental implant posts are made of roughened titanium made to mimic the surface area and texture of your natural jawbone tissue. Although these modern posts are designed to osseointegrate, or fuse, with your jaw tissue quickly, they will take some time to become stable enough to chew harder foods.
Following surgery, you should follow a strictly soft-foods diet for 5-7 days to give your implants a chance to heal. Examples of safe foods to eat would be yogurt, smoothies, scrambled eggs, and oatmeal. Avoid hard or crunchy foods during this healing period, such as carrots, hard candies, or crunchy tortilla chips. The harder the food, the more strain it puts on the implants that are trying to heal.
2. Don’t Skip Medications
To ease your pain and ward off infections, your periodontist will prescribe medications such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, or strong pain killers. Although many people don’t enjoy taking medications, it is absolutely crucial that you follow your medication plan to the letter. Take medication exactly as prescribed, and don’t skip any doses.
To make it easier to remember to take medications, consider using a pillbox or setting reminders on your cell phone. Taking your medication on time and before you are in dire need of treatment can help you to continue to heal properly and to stay comfortable.
3. Remember: Ice Packs Are Your Friend
After dental implant surgery, it is common to experience swelling, discomfort, and bruising. The swelling is your body’s natural response to foreign objects. By rushing white blood cells and fluid to the area, your body works hard to fight off any infection. However, swelling can also impede healing and interfere with blood flow if it is uncontrolled, which is why ice packs are your friend.
After surgery, use ice packs on your face and jaw to help to control the swelling. Ice packs are used 24-48 hours after the initial placement of the implants, and help to slow blood flow and to minimize swelling. Ice packs also help to reduce muscle spasms and pain, helping patients to sleep, eat, and talk easier after the procedure.
4. Don’t Smoke—No Matter What
Smoking can do more than tarnish your brand new teeth. Smoking also exposes your teeth to stark temperature changes, which can make it harder for the area to heal. Additionally, smoking interferes with proper circulation, introduces infection-causing bacteria, and reduces the flow of saliva—leading to uncomfortable dry mouth and terrible breath. Because of these factors, implant failure is much, much more common in smokers than in people who abstain from smoking during their dental implant placement process. In fact, one research study found that implant failures were more than twice as common in smokers.
To protect your dental implants and your investment, try to completely stop smoking before your surgery. However, if you find it impossible to quit permanently before your procedure, stop smoking at least one week before surgery and for two weeks following your procedure to minimize the risk of losing your implants.
5. Mention Problems To Your Periodontist
After having your dental implants in Long Island placed, you might be focused on getting back into your normal routine—ignoring any new symptoms associated with your implants. However, maintaining an open, honest dialog with your periodontist is vital for your implant healing success. Report any issues that you are having with your implants to your periodontist’s office immediately. Common problems that need to be addressed include extensive pain, oozing from the implant, or bleeding that won’t stop or that recurs frequently.
To track issues accurately and easily, keep a healing journal focused on your dental implants. Jot down how your teeth are feeling that day and whether or not you have noticed anything unusual with your gum tissue or implant itself. By keeping a journal and reporting issues in a timely manner, you enable your periodontist to get to the root of the problem and address infections swiftly.
For more information about dental implant placement and recovery, talk to a Long Island periodontist.