Choosing dental implant surgery is a decision wrought with questions. Such implants have been fixing grins for decades, and it is a practice that has transformed the lives of countless patients’ lives for the better. While the finished product can be enjoyed for decades, it’s important to remember that the procedure is just like any other surgery.
Cigno Family Dental is committed to providing our patients with the best smiles, period. Dental implants are a viable option for many looking to transform their teeth, and our staff is ready to help determine if such a surgery is right for you. Call us to reach our Greenfield, WI dental office and discuss whether implants are the best option for your situation.
Dental Implant Basics
Dental implants have been an effective means of replacing broken or missing teeth for decades. Today, these devices are essentially titanium screws that embed themselves in the jawline, just like real tooth roots. The dentist then matches artificial teeth to natural ones within the patient’s mouth which are attached to the implant either during the procedure or after some healing has taken place.
These new teeth will function just the same as natural ones since, unlike dentures or crowns, they are rooted directly to the bone. New bone growth secures the implant in place as the procedure heals, a process called osseointegration. While initial swelling and pain may subside relatively quickly, the complete healing may take many months.
Dental implant surgery can be performed in a variety of ways depending on the patent’s needs. Some scenarios allow for direct installation into the jawbone, while others may require more reconstructive approaches. Bone and skin grafts may be necessary if there are additional oral issues such as tissue or bone density loss due to age or accident.
What is the Recovery Time?
Post-surgery, the first question most patients ask is how long until they can start digging into their favorite dishes. However, many soon realize that there is some discomfort associated with recovery. While each individual case is unique, there are several common factors that can influence recovery time.
● The number of implants: more isn’t always merrier, and with multiple implants, patients should expect a longer recovery process.
● Grafts: Bone and tissue grafts will require a bit more time to heal properly than less invasive procedures.
● Health and hygiene: Your overall physical and dental health, as well as your age, can impact the recovery process as well.
Depending on the surgery’s intensity, patients can expect a full outward recovery in as little as one to two days or as long as a week. However, regular activities such as attending work or school may be possible within days of minor procedures! As a rule, following your dentist’s recommended recovery regime is always the best way to bounce back quickly.
Can I Help the Implants Heal Faster?
There are a variety of ways you can give your mouth a hand while it heals. Some surgeries may leave you feeling like you’re ready for business as usual, but it’s important to remember that rest is a big part of the dental implant recovery process. Our staff suggests taking it easy directly afterward and start with lighter activities in subsequent days. Pushing yourself may not only make you feel worse but might also increase recovery time.
Maintaining good oral hygiene is also important. Rinsing with a warm saltwater mix can alleviate discomfort as well as provide relief to sore gums. Light brushing can begin in the days following. Smoking plays a big role, too, and patients should abstain from the practice until their mouth has fully healed.
Lastly, taking care of any other conditions will help keep your body healthy and primed to handle the behind-the-scenes process your mouth is taking to get back into shape. For example, diabetes can pose problems during recovery so be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations, so your implants will heal as quickly as possible.
How Long Will the Pain Last?
As with any other surgery, dental implants can cause some pain during the healing process. As the numbing agents subside, it is normal to feel pain, swelling, numbness, and even bruising in the jaw area. Discomfort usually reaches a peak around three to five days post-operation and generally subsides not long after.
During this time, biting, teeth-grinding and even yawning can cause some low- to mid-level pain. Take any medications as ordered by your dentist or doctor to minimize discomfort as it comes. It is normal to have a low-grade fever for up to 24 hours after the procedure as well. Most patients will find that their mouths begin to feel completely normal around two weeks after the initial surgery.
The majority of dental implant surgeries have outwardly healed two weeks later. If discomfort and swelling persist, or if sudden pain presents itself weeks later, don’t hesitate to call our offices for support. We can help determine if there is indeed a problem, or reassure you that everything is going according to plan!
When Can I Begin to Eat Normally?
Once those new pearly whites are in place, it might be tempting to reach for all of your favorite foods, but the dental implant recovery process needs some time to make sure everything has healed properly. You’ll need to start on a post-surgery diet before you bite off more than you can chew.
Eating the right foods is important because much of the healing process takes place literally under the surface. Each implant will begin to bond with the bones in your jaw during osseointegration, which can take up to six or nine months. Even subtle movements can have a negative impact, so it's necessary to keep pressure off of those areas for a while.
A healthy diet is important to the recovery process, and the softer the food is, the less it will disturb your implants during the healing process. A good post-surgery diet will space out the timing for certain types of foods.
- On the day of the surgery (and perhaps one or two after), patients should restrict their meals to extremely soft foods or liquids. Applesauce, oatmeal, and smoothies are excellent options.
- A few days later, more substantial meals can be introduced. Macaroni and cheese and other pasta dishes are excellent choices. Cooked vegetables are a necessity as well, along with softer fruits such as bananas and kiwi. Ground beef and fish are also excellent contenders.
- Once osseointegration is nearly complete, most patients find they can return to their regular eating habits. Paired with proper oral hygiene, you can go back to much the same diet as you had previously, perhaps with even more variety thanks to those new implants!
Every recovery period necessitates a wholesome diet, so you should try not to miss any meals even if the thought of eating isn’t appealing. You’ll feel much better and your body will have everything it needs to help speed up recovery.
What Should Be Avoided?
The healing process after dental implant surgery is fairly straightforward, and there are a few practices that patients ought to stay away from to help ease the transition. For at least the first few days, you should avoid using straws as it can aggravate the implant sites and cause bleeding. Cigarettes can have a similar effect in addition to the damage the smoke may cause.
More inquisitive patients may wish to examine the surgical site themselves, but doing so may cause stitches to loosen or break. Opening your mouth may also cause some discomfort thanks to sore and tight muscles, so keep some petroleum jelly or lip balm handy to keep your lips from becoming sore.
There are also a host of foods that should be avoided since their makeup or consistency can wreak havoc on healing dentition. These include:
● Tough meats or raw vegetables (raw broccoli, steak)
● Spicy foods (salsa, buffalo wings)
● Acidic fruits and vegetables (oranges and tomatoes)
● Very hot liquids (hot coffee, soup)
● Crunchy snacks (corn/potato chips, popcorn)
Most importantly, patients recovering from dental implant surgery should take it easy! Rest is one of the most important factors to a positive outcome, and moving too fast can seriously hamper your healing. Even worse, trying to eat the wrong foods too soon could endanger the whole procedure. In the end, if you eat well and avoid these dangers, you’ll be enjoying your new smile in no time.
The quality of your smile is the one thing that Cigno Family Dental doesn’t want to be in question. We’re ready to help you make the right choices with your oral health and guide you through the dental implant recovery process together. Call and schedule your consultation today.