Often considered the best solution to tooth loss, dental implants offer countless benefits over traditional options like dentures or bridges. One of the primary advantages is their potential for longevity; they can last 30+ years or even a lifetime. However, this only occurs if you properly maintain them, from right after your surgery to several years down the road. To help your new smile last as long as possible, here are some easy tips for dental implant aftercare.
Take It Easy
While some patients return to work the day after their implant placement surgery, plan on taking several days off if your job involves strenuous physical activity. Exercising too soon can draw blood away from the surgical site and cause complications such as the dreaded dry socket. Make sure to also get plenty of sleep during the first week or so. Much of the healing process takes place while you’re sleeping.
It’s possible to continue bleeding up to 72 hours after the surgery, but it should mostly stop after the first day. The best way to minimize this is by biting down on a piece of gauze, switching it out every hour or so.
It also helps to avoid exercise and sit upright whenever you can. Don’t spit forcefully, smoke, or use a straw in the first 24-48 hours, as that can dislodge the blood clot forming over the site.
Take Your Medication
You’ll most likely be prescribed pain medication. Taking it before your anesthesia wears off can greatly reduce your discomfort. A good rule of thumb is to not take painkillers more often than once every six hours. The pain should subside within four days, but if it doesn’t, contact your dentist.
In some cases, such as if you have diabetes, your dentist may prescribe a round of antibiotics to prevent infection. Make sure you finish the entire course, even if you experience no symptoms.
Maintain Proper Oral Hygiene
Infections are the leading cause of implant failure, so good oral hygiene is critical, especially during the initial healing period. For the first week, brush your teeth normally but avoid contact with the implant site. Rinse your mouth with saltwater after meals. After a week, you can return to regular brushing and mouthwash.
Follow the Right Diet
Avoid hot foods and drinks for several days. Stay well-hydrated, but don’t sip liquids through a straw. Stick to soft foods for the first week or so and gradually integrate heartier foods as you become more comfortable.
Once the healing period is over, caring for your implant is almost exactly like maintaining a natural tooth. Brush and floss daily, and attend a dental checkup and cleaning at least twice a year. With these tips in mind, your implant should last for years or even decades to come!
About the Author
Dr. Mike Asay earned his dental degree from the Baylor College of Dentistry. He regularly takes extensive advanced training courses, with dental implants being one of his areas of interest. He partners with the best periodontists in the Round Rock, TX community to place and restore dental implants that look and feel just like natural teeth. To learn more about how to make your implants last, visit Dr. Asay’s website or call 512-244-2796.