3 Stages of Recovering from Dental Implants

Recovering from Dental Implants

Invested in getting a dental implant but unsure about the recovery process? Our guide will walk you through the main three dental implant healing stages you can expect once your procedure has finished and what your recovery will look like at each stage.

Although dental implants are not as invasive as other dental practices like tooth extraction or wisdom teeth removal, the healing process still takes time and special care. To ensure your dental health is optimal after your dental implant surgery, it is best to follow the advice provided below.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are replacement teeth that are secured to the jawbone through a titanium post or screw. They are difficult to pick out from your natural teeth due to the dental crown being designed to match the colour and shape of the surrounding teeth.

Over time, the tooth replacement will fuse to the jawbone through a process called osseointegration. This creates a natural feel when eating or smiling and makes them easy to maintain.

What Types of Dental Implants Are Available?

Multiple types of dental implants are available depending on the number of missing teeth you need to be replaced. While most dental implants replace a single tooth, requiring just one post and one crown, others are available for more extensive tooth replacement procedures:

  1. An implant-supported bridge for when multiple teeth are missing in a row
  2. An implant-retain denture for when you are missing all of your teeth in your upper or lower arch

Your dentist will advise you on which type of dental implant is best for your missing tooth or teeth.

Benefits of Dental Implant Treatment

Undergoing dental implant surgery benefits your overall dental health and the future of your teeth and jaw. Leaving the gum tissue exposed for over 12 months without a dental implant can result in bone loss, shifting in the surrounding teeth, and other dental problems.

By inserting a dental implant over other replacement options, you can benefit from:

  • The durability obtained from your dental implant fusing to the bone often lasts a lifetime with proper dental care.
  • The implant’s natural appearance and structure boost your confidence and allow you an easier time while eating.
  • The fact that your dental implant is permanent no worry of it slipping loose like other replacement options like dentures. This rigidity also improves your speech.
  • Improved oral health as the implant allows easier access than other options for brushing and flossing.

Dental Implant Procedure

The entirety of the dental implant process may take several appointments to complete, which can affect the length of your recovery time and the steps you need to take to improve the healing process. However, most implant placement procedures follow similar steps:

  1. Consultation: An initial consultation is needed to x-ray your teeth and jaws, as well as complete a full assessment of which dental implants will best suit your needs. The amount of healing time required for your dental implants can often be estimated in this stage as the number of implants you require is determined during the consultation.
  2. Impression: Dental moulds are used to create an impression of your teeth and mouth, allowing your dentist to begin creating the dental implant with your material of choice.
  3. Extraction: If the tooth to be replaced has yet to be extracted, your dentist will perform this necessary step before the bone grafting procedure begins. They will also clean the dental implant site to keep it clear of infection before surgery.
  4. Bone Grafting: A bone graft is necessary for those who do not have enough healthy bone tissue in their jaw for a successful dental implant. The bone is taken from another part of your body, or created by dental bone grafting material depending on your dental health.
  5. Dental Implant Surgery: The actual surgery stage begins once the foundation of your jaw has been approved in strength and function. The dental screws are installed into the implant site before healing abutment placement is undertaken to prevent the soft tissue from growing over the implants during healing. The dental crown is then added to make your new tooth match the existing natural teeth.

Who Cannot Have a Dental Implant?

You may not be able to undergo dental implant surgery if you have pre-existing medical conditions that would interfere with the healing process. While many of these conditions can be improved once identified, your health needs to be in top shape to ensure a successful healing process.

You may not be able to undergo dental implant surgery if you currently have:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Cancer or leukemia
  • A history of heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor nutrition
  • A habit of excessive drinking or smoking
  • Anemia or other blood disorders
  • Liver disease
  • Teeth grinding habits
  • Bone loss
  • Been taking medications that thin the blood
  • Diabetes

During your initial consultation with your dentist, these health problems will be discussed and treatment plans can be made to prepare you for a dental implant procedure in the future.

Dental Implant Healing Stages

The extent of recovery time needed once the full dental implant treatment has been completed varies between people and treatment types. On average, it takes anywhere between 1-6 weeks before a patient can return to eating their regular diet without discomfort or pain.

The main influences on the length of time required for dental implant healing include:

  • The number of teeth replaced
  • If extraction was required
  • Your health before the treatment, especially your jawbone health and its underlying tissue
  • Age and health factors

Even with the numerous factors that can affect implant healing, most patients will go through similar dental implant healing stages.

1. Immediate Post-Surgery (0-24 Hours)

Although a dental implant is often considered a minor surgery, every invasive procedure carries risks. Immediately following surgery, your dentist’s instructions will emphasise the need to rest and not irritate the surgical site. This means not biting down on the side of your mouth where your implant is, while also avoiding physical activities, smoking, and eating hard or crunchy foods.

There will be some swelling and discomfort around the implant site, which is normal to experience during this stage and those that follow. That is why it is best to only eat soft foods and drink water slowly through a straw. You are likely to experience this pain and swelling for a few days, usually lasting no longer than a week.

In the case that you are experiencing pain, be sure to take your prescribed pain medications as directed. It is also best to prevent infection from setting in during this delicate healing time by rinsing your mouth with a saltwater solution or antibacterial mouthwash. If you are uncertain of what steps to take during this stage, always refer back to your dentist’s instructions.

2. Soft Tissue Healing (1-14 Days)

After the initial dental implant surgery, you are likely to experience up to two weeks of tenderness, redness, and swelling around the implant site. This is an indication of the soft tissue surrounding your teeth is working hard to accept the new material and integrate it into your jawbone.

Some people may experience swelling for up to six weeks, but proper rest and a lack of physical activity can help speed up this process. During this time, you should also be drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, to help flush out the implant site and further promote the healing process. You can also regularly use an antibacterial mouthwash or saltwater rinses to clean out the surrounding gum tissue.

3. Bone Healing (3-6 Months)

Your dental implant post-placement takes some time to completely fuse to the jawbone, especially if bone grafts were used during the installation process. Because of this, the bone healing phase is one of the longest dental implant healing stages. The exact length of time for this healing process varies, ranging from a couple of weeks to several months.

This stage should be treated as an adjustment phase as you get used to your new implant and work to keep it clean. You can resume your normal activities at this time, but will still need to be wary of overdoing it when it comes to physical activity. Otherwise, be sure to take care of your body with plenty of fluids and a balanced diet, as well as practising good oral hygiene.

Regular teeth brushing should be maintained, but be sure to avoid the dental implant area until you are certain it has completely healed. Careless brushing may impede the healing stages and lead to increased soreness and irritation, which is why a soft-bristled brush is best. Continuing with regular antibacterial mouthwashes or saltwater rinses can keep the site clean instead of brushing.

So long as you maintain good oral hygiene and take care of your implant post-placement, your teeth should be fully functional by the end of this stage. Just be sure to schedule regular appointments with your dentist every six months to ensure that your overall dental hygiene, as well as the well-being of your implant, is progressing well.

What Can Affect the Healing Stages?

All of the dental implant healing stages require careful treatment of your new implant, so it is important that you do not disrupt its bonding process as it assimilates to your jawbone. Initially, this means allowing a blood clot to form around the implant to protect the sites. Still, later on, it is just as important not to bump the healing tooth or the surrounding tissue.

You can prevent any delays to the healing stages of your dental implants by avoiding actions such as:

  • Spitting
  • Vigorous rinsing or brushing with a toothbrush
  • Prodding the surgical site(s)
  • Not using the gauze the dentist gave you post-procedure to stem the bleeding
  • Not using ice to lessen any swelling
  • Eating hot, spicy, or hard foods
  • Biting down on the side with the implant before it has fully healed
  • Neglecting your oral health
  • Engaging in physical activities, especially right after treatment
  • Smoking

Tips for Dental Implant Recovery

While it is always best to follow your dentist’s recovery plan when it comes to healing from implant dentistry, you can also take specific measures to help speed up the process. The most important tip to remember is to be gentle with yourself and your new tooth. Any surgical or invasive procedure, no matter how minor, requires rest to guarantee full recovery, as well as preventative care to avoid any infections or damage to the healing site.

Rest

The last thing you want to be doing after a minor surgery is physically exerting yourself. Right after your procedure, it is best to take the time to lie down and take care of your body. Your dental health can be greatly affected if you are not getting the right amount of rest to heal.

During this time, it is also important to only eat soft foods and avoid biting down on the side your implant is located. Putting any stress on the implant site could delay the healing stages.

Regularly Clean Your Mouth

Maintaining good oral health post-procedure is vital to keeping your new implant clean and free of any bad bacteria. It is important to be gentle when cleaning the site, so you may want to avoid it with a toothbrush until it is fully healed. Regularly rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash or saltwater can help the site, as well as the rest of your mouth, clean until you can begin brushing like you once did.

Take Over-the-Counter Pain Medication

To alleviate any pain or discomfort you may be feeling, be sure to take any over-the-counter pain medication your dentist has prescribed. This way you can continue your daily activities without any disruptions.

Apply Ice

A simple ice pack on the side of your face where the implant is located can go a long way to reducing swelling and pain. It is not uncommon for the soft tissue surrounding the implant area to be inflamed for some time after the procedure, but a 20-minute application of ice can alleviate it significantly.

Schedule Regular Dental Appointments

Regular dental appointments are required following a dental implant surgery to ensure that the healing stages are progressing as expected. These appointments will track the integration of your new tooth and ensure you are experiencing a healthy recovery.

At Putney Dental Care, we provide only the finest after-care for all of our dental implant treatments. Our team are experienced in all areas of dental care, including the monitoring and support throughout all dental implant healing stages. If you require a dental implant and are looking for quality care, we have you covered!

Book your initial consultation online, or give us a call at (02) 9808 2588 to get started on your journey to a brand new smile today.

FAQs

How much are Dental Implants?

The exact cost of a dental implant is subject to change based on several factors: how many teeth need to be replaced, the material used for the crown, whether bone grafting is required, and even how much work must be done before implant installation to make the surgery possible.

You can ask your dentist for a quote on your implants during your initial consultation.

How Long Do Dental Implants Take to Heal?

The initial incision at the implant site will only take 1-2 weeks to heal with gentle treatment. However, the full integration process will usually take between 4-6 months, with more extreme cases requiring up to 8 months.

How Long Do Dental Implants Last?

With proper care and regular dental appointments, the titanium screw of your implant should last a lifetime. The crown itself may require replacement after 25-30 years, even with the best dental care, simply due to usage.

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