Healing After Dental Implants: What to Expect

Are you interested in or have recently received dental implants and are wondering what the healing process entails? From aftercare procedures for the first 24 hours to a few weeks after the procedure, this blog from Oakbrook Dental is telling you all you need to know about recovery. Read on to find out foods you can eat after dental implants and how you can reduce bleeding and swelling after surgery.

How Long is the Recovery Process?

The recovery process is different for everyone, but assuming you are in overall good oral health, received one or two simple dental implants, and do not smoke, then you can expect to recover rather quickly after both minor surgeries. 

The first surgery is when the implant is placed into the jawbone and the second surgery takes place months later, after osseointegration has occurred, to reopen the gums and attach an abutment. 

Healing from both of these minor surgeries can range from a few days to 2 weeks, but after the initial implant is placed, you will still need to wait 3-6 months for the implant to fully fuse with the jawbone. Some factors that negatively impact healing include smoking, requiring bone grafting, receiving multiple dental implants, and having a complex procedure.

The First 24 Hours

You likely received at least local anesthesia before the implant surgery and this can take hours to wear off so you should refrain from eating any food and drinking hot liquids until the numbness has worn off. 

You may feel fatigued after surgery and notice some bleeding. These reactions are normal, especially right after oral surgery. You will be given gauze to be placed right at the site of the implant to stop excessive bleeding and encourage blood clotting. 

Your dentist will likely tell you to bite down on the gauze for 30 to 60 minutes. If bleeding continues, you need to continually change the gauze but you should dampen them before placing them at the implant site.

For moderate bleeding, you can switch to biting down on damp caffeinated tea bags which contain tannic acid. Tannic acid is a natural vasoconstrictor, meaning it constricts the blood vessels to encourage the formation of clots.

To keep your mouth clean, swish around a saltwater solution made of lukewarm water and salt and do this multiple times a day to reduce bacteria and keep the implant site clean. Follow tooth brushing and flossing instructions from your dentist. You may be able to clean your teeth as normal as long as you are careful to avoid the site of the implant.

Aftercare & Eating

On the day of surgery, after receiving the implant, wait until the anesthesia has worn off and stick to soft foods like ice cream or applesauce. You should avoid hard and sticky foods at this point and if you need to chew, do not chew on the side of your mouth with the implant. If you have received implants on both sides of the mouth, it is best to keep chewing to a minimum, as much as possible.

There are a lot of things you will need to avoid during your recovery, such as:

  • Smoking & tobacco products
  • Hard or sticky foods
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Chewing at the implant site
  • Sucking through a straw
  • Spitting
  • Use teeth as tools

What you should do to encourage healing is rest for the first 24 hours and stick to very soft foods. After the first 24 hours, you may consume hot liquids again but still, be mindful of avoiding crunchy or hard foods that require a lot of chewing. 

Swelling will peak around day 2 or 3 and can be relieved through applying cold compresses or moist heat. If you notice excessive or prolonged bleeding such as bleeding that exceeds 3 days after the implant surgery, you should contact your dentist right away. This could be a sign of a dental emergency known as mucositis or peri-implantitis. 

Your mouth will need to be examined and x-rays will be taken to determine if this is the case. While some mild to moderate pain is expected, this should decrease and not get worse as the days go on. 

Take NSAIDs for the pain or your dentist may write you a prescription for a stronger anti-pain medication. Over a few days, the swelling, bleeding, and pain will go down and you will be able to introduce semi-soft foods and then slightly harder foods. 

Implant Dentistry at Oakbrook Dental

At Oakbrook Dental, we offer single-tooth and full-arch dental implants to replace missing teeth and restore your beautiful smile. If you would like to prevent bone loss and be able to eat all of your favorite foods without restriction, dental implants could be the best tooth-replacement option for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Reema Patel or Dr. Pako Major.