What to Expect After Dental Implant Surgery
Posted on: January 4, 2023
3 minute read
Dental implants are the most effective long-term option for replacing missing or damaged teeth and avoiding many of the common problems of dentures, but like all prosthetics they involve a period of adjustment.
Recovery following dental implant surgery can be different for everyone, but your dentist will make sure you know the risks and benefits of treatment along with what to expect post-surgery so you can make a fully informed decision about whether dental implant treatment is the right choice for you.
Read this guide to find out what to expect after dental implant surgery and in the long term.
What is the healing time for dental implants?
After dental implants are placed in your jaw, the jawbone will heal around the titanium implant, holding it securely in place. This process (known as osseointegration) usually takes around 3 to 4 months for implants in the lower jaw or up to 6 months for implants in the upper jaw.
The healing process will vary depending on the type of teeth attached to your dental implants.
- If your dental implants are replacing one or several teeth, your dentist will provide you with a temporary crown or bridge to wear during this time. This will be replaced with permanent replacement teeth after healing is complete.
- If you’re having All-On-4® dental implants, a full fixed implant bridge will be fitted within 5 days of surgery. This is the standard protocol for full mouth dental implants which are supported in a different way to crowns and small bridges.
- If you’re having implants to support full dentures, you will continue to wear conventional dentures while your mouth heals. These will then be converted or replaced to implant-retained dentures once the healing process is complete.
- If you require a bone grafting procedure, this may be done prior to or during dental implant surgery and may require a healing period of between 3 to 9 months or longer, depending on the type of bone graft performed and your body’s ability to heal.
Your dentist will provide you with post-surgery instructions and schedule a follow up appointment after 6 months to check your implants and for a professional clean. Most patients will have dissolvable stiches placed after surgery, these will disappear within two weeks.
If you have had bone grafting or All-On-4® surgery, your dentist will schedule a 4-week follow-up visit to check dental implants and bridge.
Will I feel pain after implant surgery?
You may feel some pain in your teeth or tenderness in your gums for a few days after dental implants are placed. This is the body’s normal response to surgery and can be managed by taking prescribed pain relief medication for the first week after surgery.
Your dentist may advise taking the first dose of pain relief before the anaesthetic wears off, which should then be used at the recommended dose for as long as needed. Your dentist may recommend taking a combination of medications such as anti-inflammatories every 4 hours and paracetamol in between. If pain or discomfort continue for longer than 7 days, or gets worse, talk to your dentist.
Will there be swelling or bruising?
You may have some swelling in your gums or face or minor bruising after implants are placed. This will usually appear the day after surgery and may last up to 7 days. If swelling continues beyond this time, you should see your dentist, as this could be a sign of infection or other problems.
Swelling may be reduced after surgery by taking anti-inflammatory medication or placing a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a towel against your face. Your dentist may recommend applying cold regularly for 24 hours after your surgery, after which time applying moist heat may be more effective for reducing swelling.
Your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent possible infection.
Will my mouth bleed?
There may be minor bleeding after an implant is placed, but less compared to some other dental procedures, such as an extraction. Bleeding should only be temporary and can normally be relieved by applying pressure to the implant site or biting down on a soft gauze pad for up to an hour.
Physical exertion makes bleeding more likely, so it’s important to take it easy on the day of surgery. If your mouth continues to bleed, you should contact your dentist for advice or to book an appointment.
Do I need to take time off work?
It’s important to rest and avoid strenuous physical activity on the day of your implant surgery. Depending on how many implants were placed and whether sedation was used, you may be able to return to work the following day, or your dentist may advise taking a few days off. Either way, you should avoid too much exertion for the next few days. Got questions about your recovery? Contact us today.
What can I eat and drink after surgery?
In the long term, you can eat any food with dental implants that you can eat with natural teeth, but your dentist will advise eating a soft diet for 8 to 12 weeks after surgery to give your mouth adequate time to heal. Biting down on hard or crunchy foods after implants are placed puts excess pressure on teeth and could risk implants not fusing with the jawbone.
If you’re only having implants to replace one or several teeth, try to chew using a different part of your mouth to avoid the implant site. Eating with an implant bridge or implant-retained denture may feel strange at first, but you should become used to it quickly. You will normally be able to return to a solid food diet after 12 weeks.
It’s also important to drink plenty of water to keep your mouth hydrated. Hot drinks should be avoided for the first 24 hours after implant surgery and alcohol, spicy foods and sticky foods should be avoided for at least 3 days. You should also avoid drinking through a straw or swishing liquids in your mouth, as this may dislodge the blood clot over the implant.
Should I clean my mouth?
You should avoid rinsing your mouth on the day of surgery, as this may dislodge the blood clot over the implant site. From the following day, your dentist may recommend washing your mouth with a warm salt water solution several times a day to prevent infection and aid the healing process.
You can resume normal toothbrushing and flossing after 24 hours, making sure you clean gently around the implants and abutments.
If you are having All-On-4® dental implant treatment, you will be given a waterpik® water flosser™ at your fitting appointment, along with a soft diet meal ideas booklet to aid your recovery. For more information on how to maintain your new smile, get in touch today.
Will smoking affect dental implants?
Your dentist will advise quitting smoking before getting dental implants, as smoking can affect the healing process in many ways. Smoking or chewing tobacco can reduce blood flow to the mouth, reduce saliva and affect the body’s immune response, which can slow down healing and increase the risk of infections and implant failure.
Smoking is also a major risk factor for a number of oral diseases that can cause implants to fail in the long term, among other serious health risks.
What are the risks of dental implant surgery?
Placing dental implants involves minor oral surgery. The procedure has a high success rate and minimal risks when it’s performed by an appropriately qualified and experienced dentist using modern equipment, but your dentist will still make sure you understand the possible complications and side effects.
These may include:
- Implant failure
- Infection of the implant site
- Damage to nearby teeth, nerves or blood vessels
- Sinus problems for upper jaw implants
Dental implant surgery using a surgical guide has lower risks and improved results compared to freehand surgery.
It’s important to check your dentist’s credentials so you can be confident that you’re choosing an experienced practitioner. The Australian Dental Association (ADA) has issued warnings about the dangers of having complex procedures such as dental implants overseas, where standards may be less strict than in Australia and the risk of implant failure and other complications can be higher.
Caring for your dental implants
After your permanent bridge or denture abutments have been fitted, dental implants don’t require any special care beyond maintaining good oral hygiene. This means:
- Brushing twice a day and flossing daily to keep natural and replacement teeth clean and reduce plaque build-up
- Following a healthy, balanced diet with limited sugar and alcohol
- Drinking plenty of water to help rinse your mouth and prevent dryness
- Not smoking
- Visiting your dentist every six months for a check-up and professional clean
If you have implant-supported dentures, these will need to be removed and cleaned daily and taken out at night.
Living with dental implants
If you are having All-On-4® dental implants, your dentist will balance your bite in the first few weeks after surgery.
Once your mouth and jaw have healed, replacement teeth supported by dental implants should look and feel like natural teeth, and generally won’t affect how you eat or speak like conventional dentures can. After the healing period, your dentist may make some adjustments as the shape of surrounding gums and bone change.
If you’re replacing dentures with implant-retained dentures, you may find that your biting force has increased, allowing you to eat a wider range of foods than before. Implants can also restore a natural facial shape by supporting the jaw, helping to avoid the sunken appearance that can develop over time with suction dentures.
If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw, you may be prescribed with a custom night guard to help protect your new smile from damage.
Implants can last a lifetime with proper care, but your replacement teeth may need to be replaced or repaired after a number of years if they become worn or damaged. Titanium-reinforced acrylic bridges or dentures may typically last between 2 to 5 years or longer with proper care. Zirconia crowns and bridges may last between 10 to 15 years or longer. Your dentist will check their condition during your regular check-ups.
Book a consultation for dental implants in Perth
If you’re considering dental implants to replace a single tooth, several teeth or an entire arch using All-On-4® dental implants, book an initial consultation with our experienced implant dentist Dr David Norcross to find out about costs and options.
Perth Dental Implant Centre has two locations in Kelmscott and East Victoria Park. Book an appointment at our Kelmscott or East Vic Park clinic by calling 1300108133. You can also contact Dr Norcross directly with any questions.