How can I speed up healing after dental implants?
Dental Implant Surgery
After surgery, the wound or sutures should not be touched or disturbed by your tongue or fingers for two weeks. You might notice a metal or white-colored material, which is the healing abutment that protrudes through the gum tissue. This post is attached to the implant, with a healing abutment to form the gum opening where the future tooth will be placed. Do not chew on the gum in this area since the pressure and food can disrupt the implant healing.
Placing a dental implant is a surgical procedure, which is why postoperative care is important. You can avoid unnecessary pain and swelling by following these instructions to avoid infection and other complications.
Read these instructions carefully so you understand the normal reactions after surgery. This information is provided to help you be as comfortable as possible during recovery.
Early Care After Surgery
On the day of the surgery, patients have optimal results when following this sequence:
- Control Bleeding First: The patient should stay in a sitting position and bite on gauze until the bleeding stops. Do not spit. Apply ice packs to the affected areas immediately.
- Eat Something: Getting something in the stomach is important. A milkshake is suggested.
- Start Medications: If the patient is experiencing pain, then the pain medication should be taken first, followed by the antibiotic an hour later. If the patient is not experiencing pain, then the antibiotic should be taken first, with the use of pain medication when the pain is starting to occur.
Apply moistened sterile gauze (a thumb-size roll) or a teabag over the wound. Bite hard with constant pressure for an hour, using 80% of your maximum bite force. The bulk of the gauze should be placed over the socket directly, so it acts as a barrier to minimize the amount of blood that is exiting the socket.
If the mouth is filling up with blood, then it means that the gauze is not sealing off the area. The gauze should be adjusted to achieve a better seal. Another cause for blood filling the mouth is if intermittent pressure is applied on the gauze or the patient starts talking, causing the gauze to move out of position.
Even when the above techniques are used properly, it may take as long as 3 to 4 hours for the bleeding to stop. If you were shown a specific technique to stop the bleeding, please use that method.
Ignore bloodstain on the gauze as a sign of bleeding. Ideally, someone other than the patient should check for bleeding and help with the gauze application. At the end of each hour, the gauze should be removed and the wound needs to be checked for further bleeding. Look at the wound directly for 20–30 seconds, using a flashlight and spoon handle (as a retractor) if needed. Don’t be surprised if the patient can’t open wide. A partial opening should be sufficient for you to see if it is bleeding.
Variable bleeding is expected after oral surgery. It is not uncommon to experience oozing, slight bleeding, or redness in the saliva.
If the bleeding does not stop, then call our office for further instructions. In the first 24 hours, it is normal to have minimal bleeding and red or pink saliva. Also, bleeding can occasionally recur through the week after surgery. Usually, the bleeding will stop by itself, but pressure gauze can be applied if the bleeding is persistent.
Consider placing a towel to cover your pillow the night of the surgery. Minor oozing and drooling might occur while sleeping.
The first 12–24 hours are usually when the most discomfort is experienced. Severe pain can be treated using the prescribed medications, taken as directed. Moderate pain can be treated using ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin: 200mg tablets, taken every 3–4 hours). Tylenol can be used as well, following the dosage recommendations as listed on the package.
Keep in mind that most pain medications can cause an upset stomach. The risk of stomach discomfort is highest when medication is taken on an empty stomach and prescription pain medication is used. If general anesthesia was used and the stomach is empty, then it is recommended to drink a milkshake followed by the first dose of medication 30 minutes later. A more effective option is to eat something soft and bulky (mashed potatoes, oatmeal, ground meat, etc.) 30 minutes before the medication.
If you have been prescribed antibiotics, then the first dosage should be taken 1 hour after taking pain medication. Continue using this medication as prescribed until the entire prescription has been finished.
Be aware that antibiotics might decrease the effectiveness of other medications, such as birth control pills. Talk to your obstetrician to know how long alternative birth control methods should be used after stopping the antibiotic.
Drs. Blecha and Jandali use precise surgical techniques to minimize and prevent swelling whenever possible. But the swelling that occurs will be proportional to the procedure. It is common for patients to experience swelling around the cheeks, mouth, eyes, and sides of the face. This reaction is expected and a normal part of the healing process. Usually, the swelling peaks within 72 hours, then will take 5–6 days to subside.
Ice packs can be used for swelling reduction. If you don’t have ice packs, homemade packs can be created using a Ziploc bag filled with ice. All ice packs should be wrapped in a dry washcloth or hand towel before applying the pack on the sides of the face.
Ice can be used in 30-minute intervals: 30 minutes on, 30 minutes off. Start the ice pack treatment on the day of the surgery and continue as needed – up to 72 hours after the surgery. After 72 hours, you can bring the swelling down by placing moist, warm, heat applications on the sides of the face.
It is recommended that patients should not smoke after implant surgery. The implants should be healed before smoking because smoking can have a negative impact on bone implant healing.
Reestablishing your diet after oral surgery is beneficial to promote healing. Chewing might be difficult in the first 5–6 days if your jaw is stiff and difficult to open.
When the bleeding stops, we recommend a milkshake. Next, patients can move on to soft, bulky foods, such as oatmeal, mashed potatoes, and ground meat. These ingredients are important in preventing vomiting and nausea from the use of medications.
Ask a family member to chop up the foods into small enough pieces so you can eat them with a spoon and swallow without chewing. Drink 5–6 glasses of liquid per day to supplement the bulky foods.
Even if your jaw is stiff and sore, you must be consistent with eating bulky foods so your stomach can tolerate your medications.
Please follow the implant surgery dietary instructions provided by our office staff. If one or more implants were placed, you can eat normal foods on the day of the surgery. But it is important to not chew the foods in the implant area. Take smaller bites (half of your normal bite) to keep the food away from the implant.
If all of the teeth were removed and you have a placement of temporary teeth (All on Four Implants), then your diet is restricted to anything that can be cut with a plastic fork (not a plastic knife or spoon).
Remember: The success of your implants depends on your adherence to these instructions and dietary restrictions during the healing period.
Nausea and Vomiting
The risk of postoperative nausea and vomiting is highest when the patient isn’t eating well and is taking postoperative medications. Pain medications are commonly the cause of stomach upset.
If nausea and/or vomiting is experienced after the surgery, then don’t eat or take anything by mouth for an hour (including prescribed medications). Slowly sip on a Sprite or Coke for 15 minutes.
When the nausea subsides, try to eat bulky foods (as listed above). If these foods are tolerated, then you can try to resume the use of medications once again. Usually, the narcotic pain medication is the cause of nausea. If these prescriptions are needed for pain management, be slow in resuming the use of the prescription and try taking a lower dose to minimize nausea.
Do not rinse or brush your teeth for 24 hours after surgery. After 24 hours, clean the mouth by brushing and following the salt-water rinses as directed below. Keep in mind that good hygiene after surgery is essential to help your mouth heal faster and to reduce the pain as quickly as possible. If you are too “shy” to brush and rinse, then it increases the likelihood of the development of a postoperative wound infection and pain that worsens.
Twenty-four hours after tooth extraction, all of the teeth should be brushed (including the teeth adjacent to the surgical site). Don’t scrub too hard. Instead, carefully clean the surface of all teeth, including “nooks and crannies” where food can get stuck.
At this time, you should also start using salt-water rinses. Mix 1/2 teaspoon salt in a glass of warm water, then gently “swish” to remove food that gets stuck in the surgical wounds. You should brush and rinse – saltwater swishing does not replace brushing.
If you find it difficult to open your stiff jaw 4–5 days after surgery, then stretching exercises can be used so you can open your mouth wider. Not only will opening your mouth wider make it easier to clean your teeth, but it also improves your ability to eat.
Use a soft bristle brush and toothpaste, with gentle, careful motions to clean the teeth. Do not brush the abutment post, but the adjacent teeth can be brushed carefully. If you have a temporary tooth, then it can be gently brushed at the gum line.
Make sure to rinse food out of the wound with a warm saltwater solution (1/2 teaspoon salt in a glass of warm water). This rinsing can be repeated every 3–4 hours.
Follow the instructions for brushing and saltwater rinses daily until talking to your doctor at the postoperative appointment.
REMEMBER: A clean wound heals better and faster.
If general anesthesia was used for the surgery, the patient should lay on a couch or bed until the anesthesia and sedative effects wear off. Within 6 hours, the patient will be able to move around a little bit, but they should not drive, operate machinery, work, or drink alcohol for 12–24 hours (until all sedative effects have resolved). These restrictions also apply to the use of prescription pain medication, for 6–8 hours until after the last dose.
It is advised to avoid physical exertion and exercise for 5–6 days after surgery.
Some patients experience skin discoloration after surgery. When the blood spreads beneath the tissues, it can cause the development of green, blue, black, or yellow discoloration. This postoperative discoloration is normal, and usually shows up 2 or 3 days after surgery. Moist heat can be applied to the area to speed up the healing and fade the discoloration.
Sore Throat & Corners of the Mouth
The IV anesthesia or extractions can cause the development of a sore throat. The throat muscles are near the surgical site, and it can cause pain when these muscles swell. This pain is normal and should subside in 2–3 days. Saltwater gargling can help to reduce the pain.
During the surgery, the corners of the mouth can be stretched – causing them to crack and dry out. This discomfort can be managed by applying lip balm or an ointment (such as Vaseline) to keep the corners of the mouth moist.
Wearing Your Prosthesis
Drs. Blecha and Jandali will review your unique situation on a case-by-case basis to determine if you should use temporary teeth (partial dentures, flippers, or full dentures). This treatment option will be discussed in the preoperative consultation, as well as postoperative instructions.
You May Experience
- Swelling around the surgical site
- Muscle stiffness, causing difficult when opening the mouth or moving the cheek or lips
- A minor earache
- Pain in other teeth
- Cracked, dry lips
- An increase in body temperature for the first 1 – 2 days
- Black or blue discoloration on the outside of the face and/or neck. The discoloration will resolve in several days, as described above.
It is common to place sutures in the area of surgery to help with healing and minimize post-operative bleeding. Do not play with the sutures. Sometimes, they become dislodged. Don’t be alarmed – simple remove the suture from the mouth and discard it. Depending on your surgery and individual situation, the sutures may or may not be dissolvable.
No two mouths are alike, which is why every patient needs personal recommendations from the doctor. Your friends might offer well-intended advice, but you should always listen to the recommendations of the doctor.
Drs. Blecha and Jandali and our staff are here to support you in a comfortable, speedy recovery. If any questions or problems arise after surgery, please contact our office for assistance.
How can I speed up healing after dental implants?
When many dental patients consider undergoing oral implants, many have concerns about the aftercare and the potential for complications to arise.
Of course, many dental procedures carry risks and oral implants are no exception; patients often worry about discomfort after the implants are fitted, and frequently ask their dental practitioners about how they can speed up the healing time and avoid infection. Because, the sooner that the implants heal, the sooner they are likely to fuse and the sooner you can get those glorious prosthetics fitted!
Oral implants are not only a way to fill the gaps in your smile, but they also offer benefits such as improving oral health, allowing you to bite into food with confidence and can stabilise any natural teeth surrounding them. So, we understand that you want them in and healed as soon as possible.
When you come to see us to have dental implants in Clapham, our team at Clapham South Dental Centre will ensure that the fitting process is plain sailing, to decrease the risk of complications arising. However, you have to do your part too with the aftercare and in this article, we will discuss the best ways to improve the healing time!
So, here are five key tips for faster healing after having dental implants in Clapham!
As our team at Clapham South Dental will tell you, smoking is best avoided altogether when it comes to having dental implants in Clapham.
Smoking creates an entire barrage of problems for your mouth in general and after you have had minor surgery for your implants, this habit can cause a longer healing process due to oxygen deprivation. So, if you want your oral implants to heal without fuss, cut out smoking.
Foods that are high in nutrients and minerals are beneficial after you have had your oral implants.
If you deprive your body of nutrients, you are inadvertently putting your body under stress and can weaken your immune system. Having a weak immune system is not something you want to endure when you have had surgery, as the risk of infections increases; it’s best to eat your greens!
Where would dentistry be without salt water?
Our team at Clapham South Dental Centre will advise you to wash your mouth out with lukewarm salt water up to 3 times a day while your implant site heals.
This will reduce inflammation, discomfort and the risk of infection.
For the first few weeks post-implant fitting, avoid eating harder foods that could add pressure to the implant site. Harder foods like carrots or fruits may cause the implants to move under your gum, which will have a detrimental impact on the healing time.
And finally, after your implant fitting, you need to rest to aid the recovery.
Skip the gym, avoid strenuous exercise and if you need to sleep, do. Take it as easy as possible and try to avoid all unnecessary forms of stress. Just relax.
What should I expect after dental implant treatment?
Many patients are surprised at how straightforward dental implant placement can be and how they experience very little discomfort afterwards. Technological advances and detailed preparation beforehand means that implant placement is a relatively simple minor surgical procedure. Much of the assessment and planning takes place in advance.
Your implant dentist will conduct a thorough examination of your mouth. This will include taking radiographs (X-rays) and sometimes CT scans of your jaws to assess the shape and condition of your bone. This allows the dentist to plan exactly how and where the implants will be placed during your treatment.
Once you have decided that dental implants are right for you, your main focus might be on the day the implant procedure takes place. But it is also a good idea to think about the immediate and long-term aftercare of your new teeth.
After the treatment, it will be your responsibility to practice good oral hygiene every day for the optimum health of your implants. Like with natural teeth, it is important that you commit to keeping your implants, teeth and mouth healthy to avoid problems. This will include regular visits to the hygienist. According to the Oral Health Foundation, “If your implants are well looked after, and if the bone they are fitted to is strong and healthy, you can expect them to last for many years.”
You will be given instructions by your dentist explaining how to look after your mouth immediately after treatment. The following also provides guidance on what to expect after implant placement and how to keep your dental implants and mouth healthy:
Before your treatment
Will I need to take time off work?
It is unlikely that you will need to take time off work, but you might want to plan a day off or two as a precaution. Try not to arrange any big social or work commitments for a few days after the treatment.
Do I need someone to accompany me?
You would be advised to ask someone else to drive you home on the day you have your implants placed. Implant dentists generally use local anaesthesia, but can offer you sedation if you request it. This can be given by mouth or through an intravenous line. If you do opt for sedation, then a responsible adult must accompany you to the appointment, remain at the surgery and escort you home afterwards. Your dentist will also give you further advice to follow if you choose sedation.
Should I think about pain relief?
You may not need any pain relief, but make sure you have some appropriate painkillers in stock for after the procedure, just in case. If you are allergic to any medication, please discuss this with your implant dentist.
Implant placement aftercare
Will my mouth bleed?
Some minor bleeding after dental implant placement is normal. Your dentist may ask you to apply pressure on the area by biting firmly down on a gauze pad for about an hour. The pad should then be gently removed. Repeat the process for another 30 minutes with another gauze pad if necessary. In the unlikely event that bleeding persists, bite down on a moistened tea bag for 30 minutes. The tannic acid in the tea leaves helps to promote blood clotting.
After having implant placement you are likely to experience much less bleeding compared to having a tooth extracted, because the implant is placed into the gap. There is no open extraction site left to heal.
How can I encourage healing?
After implant treatment avoid rinsing your mouth and try not to disturb the surgical site with your tongue or fingers for the rest of the day. This may cause bleeding by dislodging the blood clot that has formed. Don’t spit, suck on straws or smoke. This can also dislodge blood clots and slow down the healing process.
Should I rest afterwards?
Restrict your activities on the day of surgery as physical exertion can cause throbbing and encourage bleeding. If bleeding persists, you should contact your dentist.
Will I have a swollen face?
You may experience swelling and/or bruising following your treatment. Swelling will not become apparent until the day after surgery and will reach a peak two to three days later. This is normal and can be reduced by the immediate use of ice packs (or a bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a towel and held to the side of the face where the implants were placed. Your dentist may advise that on the day of placement, ice packs should be applied for 20 minutes on and 10 minutes off. After 24 hours, ice will no longer have any effect. At this point, the application of moist heat can be more beneficial in reducing the size of the swelling.
When should I take pain relief?
It is likely that you will experience no more than mild discomfort after having dental implants. Your dentist may suggest that you take your first dose of pain killers before the anaesthetic wears off and then take them regularly at the maximum stated dose for the first two days after your surgery. For most patients, over-the-counter pain medication that you would normally take for headaches will be adequate.
Any pain or discomfort following surgery should subside gradually each day. If after a few days you experience increasing pain and swelling, you must contact your dentist, who will advise on the appropriate aftercare and pain medication to keep you comfortable.
Eating and drinking
It is advisable to have only cold drinks on the day of surgery. It is important to stay hydrated. Avoid hot drinks, alcohol and hot or spicy food. Do not eat until the local anaesthetic has worn off. Although eating meals may be a challenge for the first few days, try to continue to eat nourishing food. You will heal faster and have more energy. Try choosing softer foods and chew away from the implant site. It is best to avoid foods such as popcorn, seeds or seeded fruit, as they can get stuck and cause infection. Generally most patients can return to a normal diet after seven to ten days.
Good oral hygiene is essential to successful healing. If prescribed by your dentist, use a chlorhexidine mouthwash. The day after surgery, warm salt-water rinses are also recommended and should be used four to five times a day, especially after meals. Be gentle when using mouthwashes and avoid vigorous swilling. Your dentist may encourage you to start cleaning your teeth and healing abutments with a toothbrush straight away, but be careful around the implant sites.
Healing is generally straightforward with minimal discomfort. In most cases, dentists will want to leave the gum to heal and the implant to fuse (osseointegrate) with the jawbone, before fitting permanent, replacement teeth. There is usually a period of healing lasting from six weeks to six months. The stitches are normally removed or dissolve by themselves after seven to fourteen days. Your dentist can give you an insight as to what to expect.
Healthy lifestyle choices are essential to successful healing. Smoking restricts healing dramatically. Nicotine in smoke constricts blood vessels and reduces blood flow to the soft tissues, which can affect the immune response. This slows the process of healing and affects the long-term health of gum and bone. Smoking increases the risk that implants may not heal properly after they are placed, and makes them more likely to fail over time. The healing process can also be impaired by a poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption and lack of dental care.
Healing times will be different for each patient. Your recovery time will depend on your individual case and treatment plan. Your dentist will schedule follow-up appointments accordingly.
You may be given antibiotics by your dentist to take before or after the procedure. If you are prescribed antibiotics make sure that you finish your prescription to help prevent infection.
Can I wear my dentures after treatment?
Partial or full dentures should not be used immediately after surgery. If you have a denture that covers the implant area, you should wear it as little as possible to protect the implant site during its initial healing period. If temporary replacement teeth are used during treatment, it is important that they do not apply uncontrolled pressure to the underlying implants. Your dentist will give you specific instructions about the use of your denture or replacement teeth after having implants placed.
Once your new implants and the surrounding gum have healed, and your replacement teeth have been fitted, they must be cared for in the same way as normal, natural teeth. To keep your teeth and gums healthy, brush twice daily, floss and visit your dentist and hygienist regularly.
If tooth cleaning is poor, bacteria can build up and cause inflammation. If left untreated, the inflammation can cause bone loss around the implant. Eventually, the implant loses anchorage in the bone, becomes loose and can fall out.
Dental implant success
Patients have reported that having dental implants can be far less painful than having a tooth removed or root canal treatment. The placement of dental implants is generally easier than most people imagine. It is one event in a very well planned, organised process. This means that aftercare and healing is also usually straightforward and uneventful.
Your commitment to your implant treatment outcome is that you maintain good oral hygiene. Cleaning your implants is not difficult and once your dentist is satisfied your treatment is going well, ongoing care will be similar to any patient with natural teeth.
The Association of Dental Implantology states, “It is the quality of your personal attention to oral hygiene and willingness to attend regular maintenance reviews that will have most influence on how long they will last.”
This article was compiled with assistance from Dr Steve Larcombe.