Dental implant placement is a minor oral surgery procedure, even though it’s considered minimally invasive. For traditional single tooth placement, this procedure can typically be performed with very little local anesthesia, numbing the area immediately around the implant site. On the other hand, people who are having full mouth reconstructions or multiple implants placed may prefer a deeper sedative.
Besides the actual treatment itself, it’s also important to understand what to expect after the dental implant surgery, when you return back home to heal and recover.
Home Care after Dental Implant Surgery
Our Princeton, NJ implant dentist will provide you with clear, easy-to-follow home care instructions after your oral surgery. Be sure to follow these directions carefully and call us if you have any questions.
For the first 24 hours, you’ll want to apply a cold compress to the side of your mouth with the dental implants for 20 minutes, then rest for 20 minutes. Repeat this process for at least a few hours if not most of the day. Cooler temperatures will help reduce swelling after any oral surgery, which is often the main cause of discomfort (whether you’re getting dental implants or having wisdom teeth removed.)
Most times, our dentist will prescribe antibiotics to be taken after your surgery. This prophylactic medication will prevent potential infections that could lead to the loss of your dental implant. Even if you feel well, we still ask that you take the antibiotic for the prescribed duration, which is usually 7-10 days. However, you likely don’t need to take any pain medication after the first 3-4 days unless you feel that you need it.
We will also advice exactly how to clean your mouth while the implant sites heal. For instance, you will want to avoid brushing the implant site for at least a couple of days. Rinsing with warm saltwater will help remove food debris in that area and also reduce potential inflammation. There may even be medication that you need to apply directly to the site, or a prescription mouthwash to use.
Healing of Gum Tissue over Your Implant
After any implant procedure, there is some type of gum healing that needs to occur. Thankfully in most cases, only a small incision is made directly above the implant installation site. This extremely small opening may not even require sutures, or two or three dissolvable stitches may be placed to ensure protection to the underlying implant.
Fortunately, gum tissue (gingiva) heals much quicker than most people expect. Gingiva should typically fully heal within 10-14 days of the implant procedure for most patients. Over-the-counter medications may not be necessary after the first few days. In the meantime, make sure you only eat soft foods and follow your homecare instructions as directed. Smoking, drinking through a straw, carbonated or caffeinated drinks, or crunchy foods can delay your healing process as they can interfere with your surgical site.
As long as you follow your home care instructions, your gum healing after a dental implant procedure will typically be easier than you thought. While the healing time can take a few days and you’ll want to be careful during that time, most patients don’t need pain medication for more than a few days at most. A common over-the-counter pain medication is usually more than sufficient. Primarily because there are no pain receptors in your bone structure, so the only minor irritation you feel is on the outermost surfaces of your gums.
If your discomfort becomes worse after 3-4 days, you should consult our New Jersey dentist immediately.
Osseointegration of the Dental Implant
Implants can take up to 6 months for the supporting bone tissues to heal completely and thus permanently fuse with the implant surface. An integration period is required for all dental implant placements, ensuring they are stable enough to support the fixed restoration on top of them (the visible crown, bridge, etc.) A minimum of 3-4 months is necessary for proper integration to occur. Once they have been fully integrated with the bone, implants are structurally stronger than even the healthiest teeth.
It may take some time for bone to integrate with the implants, but it is not a painful process. If you do require any pain reliever, the medication will probably only be needed for the first few days or no longer than a week. Only minor irritation is usually noticeable and the gum tissues above the actual implant tend to heal quite quickly. That being said, you may feel soreness for several days following implant surgery. Over-the-counter pain such as Motrin or ibuprofen provides more than adequate relief in most cases.
In fact, many Princeton implant patients tell us that getting dental implants are much easier than having a tooth extracted.
How to Prevent Complications or Implant Rejection
Although dental implants are minimally invasive and a highly successful procedure, they can still be affected by dental plaque. It is important to take care of your dental implants after installation the same way you would your natural teeth. If you do not, an infection known as “peri-implantitis” can develop, and it’s the leading cause of implant failure. Peri-implantitis is similar to gum disease and caused by plaque buildup. Only in this case, the infection destroys the gum and bone attachment around your dental implants, as opposed to anatomical teeth.
Plaque and tartar buildup around an implant can cause inflammation and bleeding, mirroring gingivitis symptoms. If left untreated, the infected areas can cause gum tissue and bone to pull away around the implant, compromising support for your new “tooth.”
Fortunately, peri-implantitis can be avoided by daily flossing and brushing. Regular checkups with our Princeton dentist and professional cleanings are also recommended every six months. We’ll show you how to clean and care for your new implants properly, giving them the opportunity to last for the rest of your life.
Dental Implants in Princeton, NJ
Do you have missing teeth? Are you considering implant surgery to restore your smile? The Canal Vista Family Dental team will be by your side each step of the way. Contact our dentist in Princeton today to reserve a no-obligation consultation.