Getting ready for dental implant surgery can be a bit nerve wracking, especially if it’s your first time receiving dental implants. Just like with any other surgery, there could be some level of pain or discomfort after surgery. The good news is that dental implants usually hurt less than having your teeth removed. This is because dental implants deal mostly with bones and gums, which are not as painful as dealing with actual teeth. If you’ve managed to have your teeth removed, you should be able to handle your dental implant surgery.
What you should do before your implant surgery?
Preparing for your dental implant surgery isn’t all that different than any other surgery. Be sure to follow your dentist or surgeon’s instructions carefully. Here are some general advice that can help ease the process:
Take your medications
Your dentist may give you antibiotics, pain-killers, or a special mouthwash to use before your surgery. Taking prophylactic medicine helps expedite the healing process, decrease post-op pain, and reduce the likelihood of developing an infection. Therefore, be sure to take your medications as instructed by your dentist.
If you take regularly prescribed medications, continue taking them unless advised otherwise by your dentist or oral surgeon. This means that if you’re taking pills for high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid condition, etc. then continue taking your medicine on the day of surgery. Blood-thinners such as Warfarin or Plavix require extra precaution. The newer generation blood-thinners, such as Pradaxa, Xarelto and Eliquis, are generally okay to take during your dental implant surgery. However, you must consult with your physician (not dentist) to decide whether or not to take your blood-thinners before dental implant surgery.
If you’ve have had a recent stent or artificial joint (like hip or knee replacement) then you must pre-medicate before dental implant surgery. Pre-medication protects you against the spike of bacteria in the bloodstream to reduce the possibility of infection. The recommendation is that if you’ve had a stent or artificial joint replacement within the past two years you should pre-medicate. To pre-medicate, you need to take a high-dose of Amoxicillin (2000 mg) or Clindamycin (600 mg) an hour before your dental implant surgery. Consult with your physician to see if you need to pre-medicate before dental implant surgery. If in doubt, pre-medicate just to be on the safe side.
Eat before your surgery
It’s best to eat something before your surgery. First off, having something in your stomach helps regulate your sugar levels. Secondly, eating beforehand reduces salivation rates which helps maintain a drier working area for your implant dentist. Finally, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t be able to eat a solid meal following your surgery. The only exception is if you’re planning to undergo general anesthesia, in which case you need to fast overnight.
The last thing you should do before any surgery is stress out. Stress increases your blood pressure and makes it dangerous to perform surgery. Stress also makes your body less responsive to anesthesia and sedation, which can complicate matters. Talk to your dentist or surgeon if you’re super nervous to figure out a solution to calm your nerves. Something as simple as an anxiety pill or Nitrous Oxide gas could calm your nerves and ease the entire process.
Show up on time
Most dental implant surgery typically takes a long time. It’s not unusual for your dentist to schedule 3 to 4 hours for bigger cases. Be sure to show up on time to your appointment. We recommend that you plan on arriving 15 minutes before your scheduled surgery. Being on time allows your dentist to take full advantage of the scheduled appointment. This way, your implant dentist can take time to numb or sedate you and focus on performing a smooth surgery. Being late to your appointment puts unnecessary pressure on your dentist and increases the likelihood of complications. Be on time, relax, and let your experienced dentist handle the rest!
No smoking or vaping
Dental implants and cigarettes don’t mix well. Tobacco products reduce blood flow to your organs which postpones recovery from dental implant surgery. Smokers have a much higher risk of implant failure, infection and other complications following implant surgery. We recommend that you stop smoking one week before and one week after your implant surgery. This allows for improved blood flow to your organs and significantly improves your recovery process.
What should you do after your dental implant surgery?
Recovery from dental implant surgery takes anywhere from 2 to 3 days up to a few weeks. You will be given verbal and written instructions on what to do after your dental implant surgery. Follow your dentist’s advice carefully to minimize post-operative pain and discomfort. Here are some helpful hints to improve your recovery process:
Take your medications
You must finish your antibiotics until they are gone. Just because the pain goes away does not mean you can stop taking your medications. You can discontinue your painkillers, but you must finish your antibiotics. Follow your dentist’s instructions and contact them if you have any questions.
Stay away from your surgery site
Take it easy on the site of your surgery for a few weeks. Here’s a list of things to avoid during your recovery period:
- Don’t chew hard food objects, like nuts, bread and raw vegetables
- No forceful spitting, rinsing or swishing for the first few days after surgery
- Do not touch the implant or play with it with your tongue
- Avoid strenuous exercises for a few days
- Avoid brushing the dental implant surgery site for the first few days
- Do not use an electric toothbrush or Waterpik on the surgery site for a week or two
Get used to chewing mashed and soft foods. Your dentist will instruct you when it’s safe to resume your normal diet and oral hygiene routine.
Get as much rest as much as possible
Just like with any other surgery, your body needs time to recover from dental implant surgery. Resting and relaxing is essential to a speedy recovery process. Try to get as much rest as possible for the first few days following your dental implant surgery. Stay away from chewing hard and sticky foods to give your jaws time to relax.
Expect some level of pain and discomfort
Pain can last anywhere from 2 to 3 days up to several weeks. Some patients feel almost no pain after their dental implant surgery while others suffer for weeks afterward. There are many different factors that come into play when it comes to how much pain you will feel afterward, for instance:
- Heavy smokers always experience more pain
- Your overall medical history
- Extent of infection in your mouth
- Duration of your surgery
- Quality of your jawbone
- Number of implants being placed inside of your mouth
- Extent of your surgery which includes which other surgical procedures were performed in conjunction with your dental implants (such as bone graft, tooth extraction, etc.)
Follow your dentist’s recommendations to improve your chances of making a quick and speedy recovery.
Use ice-pack and heat-pack
Use an ice-pack and heat-pack to reduce swelling and pain following your dental implant surgery. Try icing the area for the first 2 to 3 days and then start using a heat-pack after that. Place the ice-pack for 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off, for the first 2 to 3 days after your surgery. After the 3rd day, start applying a heat-pack if you’re still experiencing significant pain and swelling.
When should I see my dentist next?
Your dentist or surgeon will schedule a follow-up appointment after your dental implant surgery. Most post-operative appointments are scheduled 1 to 3 weeks after your procedure. Expect to experience pain, swelling, loose stitches, minor bleeding, etc. as part of your recovery process. Feel free to contact your dentist to ask them questions. However, there’s not much they can do for you during these first few days of recovery. For more serious complications, such as uncontrolled bleeding, unbearable pain, or numbness in the region, pay a visit to your dentist right away. Otherwise, follow the instructions they’ve given you and allow your body to heal and recover properly.