A dental implant is a fixture placed into the jawbone to fuse with the bone and act as a replacement for the root of a missing tooth. This is the closest thing to a natural tooth, and it has great stability because it stands on its own.
The process of fusion between the dental implant and the jawbone is called "osseointegration”, and it begins with surgery to place the implant into the jawbone. In order to integrate with the bone and not be recognized as a foreign object in our body, implants are often made of titanium.
It typically takes several months for the jaw to fully heal after dental implant surgery. During this time, you will be given general recommendations, which include eating only soft foods, applying ice compresses to reduce swelling, and having a lot of patience.
The Healing Period
As with any surgery, swelling and discomfort are expected for the first two days. You may experience painful swallowing and stiff jaw muscles for about a week post-op. After the third day, you should feel gradual, steady improvement. The bones and structures will slowly shape and adapt to the implant.
The recovery process may vary according to the patient’s oral condition. Aspects like the number of teeth extracted and implanted, if there was bone grafting done, and lifestyle choices affect the surgery and the healing time.
There are some habits and activities you should avoid just before and after your dental implant is placed. This period is crucial to guarantee a healthy and strong support for the implant structures to be added later.
- Avoid foods and drinks that are too cold, hot, chewy, tough or spicy
- Avoid activities that increase nasal or oral pressure, such as straining when lifting heavy objects, blowing up balloons, playing musical instruments that require a blowing action. This includes blowing your nose or holding your nose while you sneeze. Sneeze with your mouth open.
- It’s best to avoid using straws because tissue can be harmed by the vacuum created when you drink with them.
- Avoid smoking
- Don’t pull or stretch your lips or mouth to look at your stitches. Doing so could cause tearing.
- Take all your prescribed antibiotics, anti-swelling medication, and painkillers if needed.
- Keep your mouth clean after surgery to reduce the risk of infection. Your dentist may recommend salt water rinses for the day after the procedure and prescribe antibiotic rinses if necessary.
- Don’t brush the teeth near the area of the surgery for 24 hours. And when you do it again, be very gentle.
After this period, once your jaw is fully healed, you will be ready to get the permanent prosthetics attached to the implants.
Dental implant surgery is worth the time, prep, and precautions it takes. The benefits are many, and it is a long-lasting alternative to restore your smile and the functionality of your teeth. Please call our Washington D.C. office for questions about the dental implant process.