How should I prepare myself for dental implant surgery?
Getting ready for dental implant surgery could be a bit nerve wracking, especially if this is your first time. Just like with any other surgery, there could be some level of pain or discomfort associated with dental implant surgery. The good news is that dental implants often times hurts less than having your teeth extracted. This is because dental implant surgery deals mostly with bones and gums which are not as sensitive as your actual teeth. Therefore, if you’ve managed to handle having your teeth removed, you should be able to handle your dental implant surgery as well. Let’s go ahead and review a few tips on how to make your dental implant surgery go as smooth as possible.
What you should do before your dental implant surgery?
Preparing for your dental implant surgery isn’t all that different than preparing for any other surgical dental procedure. Be sure to follow your dentist’s instructions carefully. Here are some general advice to help ease the process for you and your dentist:
Take your medication as prescribed
- Often times your dentist will give you antibiotics or an antimicrobial mouthwash to use before your surgery. Taking prophylactic medication helps you heal faster, fell less pain and reduces the likelihood of developing post-surgical infection. Thus, be sure to take your medications as instructed.
- Take your regular prescribed medications, unless advised otherwise. This means that if you’re taking pills for high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, thyroid condition, etc. continue taking your medicine as prescribed on the day of your surgery, unless your physician or dentist has advised you not to do so.
- Blood thinners such as Warfarin or Plavix require extra precaution. The newer generation blood thinners such as Pradaxa, Xarelto or Eliquis are generally okay to take during your dental implant surgery. Either way, you must follow your physician’s advice when it comes to blood thinners. If your physician has advised you to discontinue your blood thinners in anticipation of dental implant surgery, then you must do so. Otherwise, continue taking them as you regularly would. Keep in mind, your physician and not your dentist gets to determine if you need to discontinue your blood thinners. Therefore, be sure to consult with your primary care or cardiologist beforehand.
- If you’ve have had a recent stent or artificial joint (hip or knee replacement) then you must pre-medicate before your dental implant surgery. This prevents spread of bacteria through the blood and reduces possibility of infection. The rule of thumb is if you have had an artificial joint within the past two years then your need to take a high dosage of Amoxicillin (or Clindamycin if your allergic) an hour before your dental implant surgery. Again, it’s best to consult with your physician to see if pre-medication is required or not. If in doubt, pre-medicate to be on the safe side.
Eat something prior to your surgery
I personally don’t recommend showing up to your dental implant surgery on an empty stomach. It’s always best to eat something beforehand. Why? First off, having something in your stomach helps regulate your blood sugar level. Secondly, eating beforehand reduces your salivation rate which really helps your implant dentist. Finally, there’s a good chance you might not be able to eat anything for a couple hours after your surgery. Therefore, it’s better to stock up on some food in advance. The only exception here is if you’re planning to undergo general anesthesia in which case you must fast overnight.
The last thing you should do before any surgery is stressing out. Stress increases your blood pressure which makes it dangerous to perform surgery. Plus, stress makes your body less responsive to anesthesia and sedation which can complicate matters. If you’re really nervous, talk to your dentist about it. Something as simple as an anxiety pill or Nitrous Oxide gas could help calm your nerves during surgery. If you’re super stressed out, you might require require sedation or even general anesthesia. Talk to your implant dentist to figure out what’s the best solution to help calm your nerves during dental implant surgery.
Show up on time
Dental implant surgery typically takes a long time. It’s not unusual for your dentist to schedule you for 3 or 4 hours to place multiple dental implants. Be sure to show up on time to your appointment. In fact, it’s best to arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled surgery. Being on time allows your dentist to take full advantage of the scheduled appointment time. This way, your implant dentist can take time to numb you properly and perform a smooth surgery. Being late to your appointment puts pressure onto your implant dentist which increases the likelihood of complications. Be on time, relax and let your experienced dentist handle the rest!
Stop smoking or vaping
Dental implants and cigarettes don’t get along with each other. Tobacco use reduces blood flow to your organs which postpones recovery from dental implant surgery. As a result, smokers have a much higher risk of implant failure, infection and other complications following dental implant surgery. We recommend that you stop smoking at least one week before and one week after your implant surgery. This allows for improved blood flow to your organs which improves your recovery process.
What should you do after your dental implant surgery?
Initial recovery from dental implant surgery takes anywhere from 2 to 3 days up to a few weeks. Follow your dentist’s advice during your post-operative recovery period. Often times, you will be given a written protocol on what to do and not to do after your dental implant surgery. Here are some helpful hints to assist you during your recovery process following implant surgery:
Don’t stop taking your medicine
Just because the pain goes away does not mean that you can stop taking your medication. You must finish your antibiotics so continue taking them as prescribed until they are gone. Painkillers can be discontinued once your pain has diminished. Follow your dentist’s instructions and contact them if you have any questions or concerns.
Stay away from the surgery site
Keep away from your dental implant surgery site during the recovery process. You must take it easy for a few weeks, depending on your dentist’s recommendation. Here is a list of things which you can not do during the first few weeks following dental implant surgery:
- Don’t chew hard food objects (nuts, bread, raw vegetables) where the implants were placed
- No forceful spitting, rinsing or swishing for the first few days
- No touching the implant or playing with your tongue
- Strenuous exercises are to be avoided for the first few days
- Avoid brushing the dental implant surgery site for a while
- Also avoid using an electric toothbrush or Waterpik on the surgery site
You need to get used to chewing mashed and soft foods until your dental implants have gone through their initial healing period. This could be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks or even longer. Your dentist will let you know when it’s safe again to resume your normal diet and hygiene routine.
Get as much rest as much as possible
Just like with any other surgery, your body requires time to recover from dental implant surgery. Resting and relaxing is essential to a speedy and quick recovery process. Try to get as much rest as possible for the first few days following your dental implant surgery.
Expect some level of pain and discomfort
Post dental implant surgery pain lasts anywhere from 2 to 3 days up to a few weeks. There are many different factors which come into play when it comes to how much pain you will feel afterwards, for instance:
- Smoking history
- Overall medical health
- Extent of infection in your mouth
- Duration of your dental implant surgery
- Quality of your jaw bone structure
- Number of dental implants being placed inside of your mouth
- Other surgical procedures performed in conjunction with dental implants, such as bone graft or tooth extraction
Some patients only experience slight discomfort after their dental implant surgery. Others will be suffer from severe pain, swelling or numbness for weeks. Follow our recommendation so that you can fall into the first category and make a quick, speedy recovery.
Use ice or heat pack as needed
You can use an ice or heat-pack to reduce swelling and pain following your dental implant surgery. Try icing the area for the first 2 to 3 days. Use the ice-pack 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off. After the 3rd day, start applying a heat pack instead if there is still significant pain and swelling.
When should I see my dentist next?
Your dentist should give you a follow-up appointment after your dental implant surgery. Typically, post-operative appointments are scheduled 1 to 3 weeks after your procedure. Keep in mind, pain, swelling, loose stitches, minor bleeding, etc. are all part of your dental implant surgery recovery process. Of course, you can always contact your implant dentist to ask them questions in the mean time. However, there’s not much they can do for you during the first few days of recovery. For more serious complications, such as uncontrolled bleeding, unbearable pain or numbness within the region, go visit your dentist right away. Call your dentist and make plans to drive over there to have your condition accessed in person by your treating dental implant dentist. Otherwise, simply follow the instructions we’ve given you to allow your body to heal as quickly as possible!