Dental implants are an excellent option for replacing missing teeth. They look like natural teeth and can last a lifetime with proper care. They also allow you to have options when replacing multiple missing teeth, whether with an implant-supported bridge or implant-supported dentures.
Taking care of your smile after dental implant surgery is crucial to ensuring the success and longevity of the implants. In this guide, we review the essential steps for dental implant aftercare so you can have a strong and healthy implant for many years to come.
Follow Post-Operative Instructions
Immediately after the dental implant surgery, it’s essential to follow the post operative instructions provided by your dentist . These instructions typically include:
- Avoiding eating or drinking for a specified time
- Taking prescribed medications
- Applying ice packs to reduce swelling
- Keeping the surgical site clean
- Avoiding the use of straws
Your dentist will review these instructions with you before your procedure, but if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to follow up with your oral healthcare provider.
Maintain Oral Hygiene
Oral hygiene is crucial for the long-term success of your dental implants. After your dental implant surgery, brush your teeth gently twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, but avoid brushing the surgical site directly. You should also floss as usual but avoid the implant site for the first day or two.
Generally, it’s safe to gently brush the area around the implant 24-48 hours after your procedure. Your dentist will tell you when to start brushing the surgical site to keep your wound clean.
Be Mindful of Your Diet
During the initial healing phase, it’s essential to be cautious with your diet. Stick to soft foods and avoid hard, sticky, or crunchy foods that can damage the implant or cause discomfort .
It’s best to stock your fridge and pantry with softer foods such as yogurt, pudding, soups, smoothies, oatmeal, and eggs that you can eat immediately after your dental implant surgery. It’s also best to avoid very hot, cold, sweet, or spicy foods, as they may cause discomfort.
You can gradually introduce firmer foods as recommended by your dentist, but during the first few days, stick to softer foods and avoid chewing on the side of your mouth that the implant is on.
Quit Smoking and Limit Alcohol Consumption
Smoking and alcohol consumption can hinder healing and increase the risk of complications after dental implant surgery. It’s strongly advised to quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption to maintain optimal dental health and implant success.
Research shows that alcohol consumption can increase discomfort after dental implant surgery, so avoiding alcohol until your surgical site has healed may help you better control your discomfort and shorten your healing time .
Don’t Skip Your Follow-Up Appointments
Your dentist will ask to see you back for a follow-up appointment one or two weeks after your surgery. It’s essential that you keep this appointment so your team can see how the implant is healing.
Even after your dental implants have fully healed, it’s important to keep your bi-annual checkups with your dentist. These appointments allow your oral healthcare professional to monitor the health of your implants, perform professional cleanings, and address any potential issues before they become more significant problems.
Be Aware of Signs of Complications
Although they are rare, it is possible to have complications following a dental implant procedure . Being aware of these signs and symptoms will allow you to seek dental care as soon as possible if there is such a complication.
Signs and symptoms of a potential complication include:
- Pain that does not go away within the first few days
- Unusual swelling, redness, or bleeding around the implant area
- A bad taste or smell coming from your mouth
- Numbness in your mouth or face
If you experience these symptoms, contact your dentist promptly for an evaluation and appropriate treatment.
Ask Your Dentist About Dental Implants
Are you considering dental implants? By taking care of your smile and following your dentist’s instructions, your dental implants can last for many years, providing you with a confident and functional smile. Ask your dentist about dental implants and how they might improve your smile if you have missing teeth!