Choosing to replace a missing tooth and improve your smile is a step toward better oral health. Your smile is complete, eating and speaking occur naturally, and your teeth are easier to keep clean. No longer do you have to worry about shifting teeth or bacteria collecting in the gap from a missing tooth. Dr. Desameau, your top dentist in Pineville, offers dental implants as a way to restore and enhance your smile.
Here, we will explain the dental implant procedure and the do’s and don’ts for your recovery.
What Is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a post that replaces a tooth root. It is placed in the gap from the missing tooth and given time to heal. Once healed, the implant is connected to an abutment and a dental crown to mimic the entire tooth structure.
An implant can replace one tooth or several. When several missing teeth are replaced, the implants can be topped with crowns, bridges, or dentures to complete your smile.
Implantation Procedure in Pineville
A tooth replacement with a dental implant requires more than one appointment. If you experience tooth loss or are showing signs of needing a tooth replacement, you should schedule a consultation with your dentist. This meeting involves an examination and discussion of your oral health habits and lifestyle needs. The goal is to determine if you are a qualified candidate for dental implants and to establish a treatment plan.
Patients who do not have adequate bone structure may first need a bone graft, so there is enough bone to support an implant. Once the bone has developed, the implantation process can begin.
Sedation dentistry may be offered to keep you comfortable during the procedure while a local anesthetic numbs the treatment site. During this outpatient procedure, your dentist makes a small incision in the soft tissue and bone, places the implant, and stitches the surgical site. The area is given three to six months to heal so that osseointegration occurs. This is when the bone and gums fuse with the implant. Once healed, the soft tissue is cut to expose the implant. The abutment and restoration are attached, completing the process.
How Long Is the Implant Recovery Process?
The success rate of dental implants is very high, but the majority of the healing time is waiting for bone growth in your jaw. The process from start to finish is several months long, but the end result is a beautifully restored, natural-looking tooth.
Since placing an implant is technically an oral surgery, there is some downtime. Most patients can expect a recovery period of one to two days after the actual implantation procedure. However, if a bone graft is combined with implant placement, additional downtime may be needed.
The number of procedures, your oral and overall health, age, oral hygiene, and lifestyle habits may impact the recovery process.
The Do’s of Dental Implant Surgery Recovery
Dental implant surgery is the most effective option to replace missing, damaged, or diseased teeth. However, as with any surgical procedure, there are tips to follow to ensure a smooth recovery process. Consider the following tips for dental implant recovery:
Follow Your Dentist’s Instructions
Before leaving the office, your dental team will give you instructions for your recovery period. This includes advice on oral hygiene, brushing your teeth as usual, and avoiding the surgical site. It is important to follow these instructions to help you heal and recover quickly.
Get Help From Friends or Family
Following your dental implant procedure, you will need a friend or family member to drive you home. In most cases, it is helpful to ask for assistance for the first day or two. You may be tired or uncomfortable from the procedure. You need to rest, take your medications as prescribed, and let your body heal.
Your body will heal faster with rest. If you are overexerting yourself, your body’s healing powers will be spread thin. Resting allows your immune system to focus on healing your mouth. Lie on your back with your head elevated to allow adequate blood flow to your head. This helps reduce swelling and prevents excess bleeding.
Eat Soft Foods
For the first few days after your procedure, you will need to modify your diet. Eat soft foods rich in vitamins and nutrients. Try to eat a balanced diet that helps maintain your strength but avoids raising your blood pressure or cholesterol. Common staples include mashed potatoes, applesauce, soup, steamed vegetables, and yogurt.
Keep Your Mouth Clean
Good oral hygiene is a key component of dental implant recovery.
On the first day, you will mostly avoid cleaning your mouth so that you don’t disrupt the treatment site. The second day after your procedure, you should rinse your mouth with warm salt water at least three times per day. This is particularly essential after eating to make sure no food particles get lodged around the treated area.
You can then begin to brush and floss as normal as oral hygiene is still a necessity. However, you should be gentle around the gums and surgical site.
Take Your Medication as Prescribed
Although your mouth may remain numb for a few hours following the procedure, it is important to take your medications as prescribed. You are likely to experience discomfort during the first couple of days. Stay ahead of your pain by taking your pain medication as directed. It is easier to stay on top of it than it is to play catch up.
You may also be given an antibiotic. Make sure you take the antibiotic as directed, even if you feel fine. This helps you avoid getting an infection.
What Not to Do After Implant Placement
Along with good hygiene and taking your medications, there are activities and lifestyle choices that you should avoid or place on hold until your body has had time to heal. Consider the following tips for what not to do:
Overdo It With Exercise
Regular exercise is great for your overall health; however, you need to take a break from it after your implant surgery. For the first few days following the procedure, avoid strenuous exercise such as heavy lifting or running. This gives your body time to heal and recover. It also helps you avoid unnecessary swelling or bleeding.
Consume Hot Foods or Beverages
Hot foods and beverages can irritate your surgical site. Your mouth may be more sensitive to burns if you consume items that are overly hot while your mouth is numb from anesthetics or pain relievers. It is best to avoid these foods and drinks until you are not using pain medication.
Eat Hard, Crunchy Foods
As mentioned above, it is best to stick to a soft food diet for a few weeks. Hard, crunchy foods are more likely to irritate your treatment area. They may also become lodged in the gums or cause excessive bleeding.
Smoke or Drink Alcohol
As with any surgery, smoking disrupts the natural healing process. It also increases the risk of implant failure or infections. If you are a smoker, at a minimum, you need to stop smoking the day of and the day after the implant procedure.
In addition, you need to avoid alcohol for the same time period. It also interferes with normal healing and may negatively interact with your antibiotic and pain medication.
When to Seek Professional Help
It is important to remember that not every patient heals the same way. The recovery period requires time, rest, and patience. The best thing to do is to allow the body’s natural healing processes to work.
Although your dentist may give you a general timeline, your recovery period is dictated by the complexity of your procedure, how your body reacts to the implant, and your adherence to the post-operative instructions.
However, if you experience any of the following, it is important to contact your dentist right away:
- Excessive pain, swelling, or bleeding
- Vomiting or nausea
Restore Your Smile With Dental Implants in Pineville, NC
If you are ready to restore your oral health and show off your smile, contact us to learn more about our dental implant procedure in Pineville, NC. Our dental team offers comprehensive dental services, including implants, crowns & bridges, and dentures, to give you a radiant smile.