If you have lost any teeth from injury or disease, dental implants are often the most effective way to replace them. After undergoing implant surgery, you can expect a healthy smile that looks naturally attractive. Recovery is relatively short, with minimal risks and permanent, rewarding results.
Dental implants are prosthetic roots that serve to function the same way a natural tooth root does. It is placed directly into the bone, fusing itself with the bone and lasting as long as an entire lifetime. Each implant root is made of titanium, which is a hospital grade material frequently used in joint replacements throughout the body. Once your implant is secured, an abutment is placed on top of the implant. The abutment supports the permanent restoration and is screwed directly into an opening at the top of the implant. Implants may be used to support a dental crown, bridge, or even a full arch of teeth (upper or lower).
What to expect after dental implant surgery
After dental implant surgery, common side effects include swelling, bruising, and discomfort near the implant site, particularly over the first two to three days of recovery. While all of these effects should begin to subside in about three days after surgery, some patients express concern over the amount of pain involved. During the early stages of recovery, know that it is normal to experience some degree of discomfort and pain. Although the pain is easily manageable for most patients, everyone’s recovery is slightly different, and certain factors will determine the degree of side effects an individual experiences.
Some implant procedures are simply more complex, due to factors such as the implant’s location or patient’s health complications. Other patients may have required a prior bone graft, or will have their implant surgery performed alongside additional procedures. In each of these scenarios, pain during recovery has the potential to be heightened. Luckily, a majority of patients can easily manage their discomfort and by following these tips on ways to relieve pain:
1. Take Medication: Painkilling medications, called analgesics, are the most effective and direct way to reduce post-surgical discomfort and pain. For some patients, over-the-counter painkillers, such as those containing acetaminophen or ibuprofen, are enough to keep pain under control. Others may feel more comfortable relying on a prescribed painkiller for the first day or two. Both options are viable and safe, provided the medication is taken as directed.
2. Use an Ice Pack or Cold Compress: The use of a cold compress is generally recommended as a way to reduce early swelling and bruising. A cold compress should be used within the first 48 hours after surgery, in 15-minute intervals: 15 minutes of contact on the sore area, then 15 minutes off. By the third day, there should be a noticeable decrease in swelling.
3. Eat Soft Foods: Soft foods will help relieve the pressure on your gum tissues and jaw, allowing them to heal around the implant. Foods like mashed potatoes, soup, yogurt, eggs, fish, canned fruit, and oatmeal are all good options. No matter what you eat, avoid chewing any of it with the implant site itself by using the opposite side of your mouth. A great deal of pain and irritation can be avoided this way, and will make for a shorter overall recovery time.
4. Limit Physical Activity: After arriving home, relax for the rest of the day. Any immediate physical activity will interfere with the healing process, resulting in unnecessary bleeding and discomfort. Even if you are feeling well, continue to avoid overexertion for the first three days.