Properly caring for yourself after dental implant surgery can speed up the healing process and make things easier for you overall, and following the care instructions provided by your dentist can help you avoid certain complications. If you're not sure what to expect, here's a list of some common post-surgical side effects, as well as things to avoid so that your recovery is smooth.
Pain following dental implant surgery is perfectly normal, and your dentist will let you know what to take. Most professionals recommend ibuprofen or acetaminophen every 4-6 hours (as long as you aren't allergic to either one), but the key is to take them before the anesthetic wears off. This is so the medication is already in your system by the time the numbness goes away and normal sensation returns. Staying ahead of the pain by taking OTC pain killers can also help with any swelling that might occur where the injection was given. Sometimes pain killers and antibiotics are prescribed following implant surgery, and those should be taken as directed. Be sure to ask your dentist if ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be taken with them.
Swelling around the implant can be expected after surgery, but anti-inflammatories will only help so much. To further reduce the swelling, you can use a cold compress (ice, frozen veggies, etc.). Apply it as much as needed for the first few days, and you should notice an improvement.
Some bleeding is normal after having your dental implants put in. Most patients notice blood-tinged saliva, but if yours becomes more profuse, bite down on a piece of gauze long enough for the bleeding to stop. Your dentist will be able to offer guidelines on how long to do this. If bleeding cannot be controlled, contact your dentist.
In general, you should drink plenty of fluids in order to promote healing, but avoid using straws. This places a vacuum type of pressure on your gums, which can dislodge any existing blood clots at the surgical site and cause bleeding around the implant.
After your surgery, stick with soft foods for a week or two (your dentist will let you know exactly how long), and be sure to stay away from carbonated beverages and really hot drinks. Warm fluids are okay. Include foods like the following in your diet:
- Water, juice, coffee, tea, and milk
- Soft cereals like cream of wheat, cream of rice, oatmeal, and grits
- Scrambled eggs, cooked ground beef, fish, and finely chopped chicken
- Cooked vegetables like green beans, peas, and beans
- Cottage cheese, yogurt, apple sauce, and jell-o
- Mashed potatoes, baked or scalloped potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and soft breads
- Beef or chicken broth, vegetable soup, and bouillon
- Milkshakes, ice cream, pound cake, and pudding
For the same reason that you should avoid using a straw, you shouldn't smoke for about five days after surgery. But there are a few other reasons to stay away that cigarette or pipe: tobacco constricts your blood vessels, which you'd think would help control any possible bleeding. However, it's important that your surrounding gums get plenty of oxygen and nutrients so they can heal. And when blood vessels shrink, that can't happen as easily.
Also, smoking increases carbon monoxide levels in your blood, which reduces the amount of oxygen available, making smoking a double whammy to your healing process. Talk to your dentist about temporary nicotine replacements like nasal sprays, inhalers, and lozenges.
General Things to Temporarily Avoid
Because the following activities can lead to bleeding and delay healing around your implant, it's a good idea to avoid the following activities until your dentist says they are okay:
- Blowing your nose
- Flying or sky diving
- Blowing up balloons
- Probing the site with objects
- Vigorous or forceful rinsing of the mouth (gentle is fine)
- Intense physical activity
For more information, contact a dentist at a dental office like Tijeras Dental Service.