Once patients understand what happens during dental implant surgery and what they can expect their brand new smiles to look like, their next question is usually, “What is the recovery like?” When asking about what to expect after dental implant surgery, you may be thinking back to your recovery from having wisdom teeth removed or another type of oral surgery, but most patients find that recovery from dental implants is much more comfortable. Here’s what you should know.
Immediately After Dental Implant Surgery
Depending on the level of sedation you received for your dental implant surgery, you may feel groggy and “out of it” once your procedure is over. Usually you will experience some light bleeding, seeping, and swelling. We ask that you not pull on your lip to view the surgical site or poke at it with your tongue or fingers.
Your local anesthesia will begin wearing off a few hours after getting your dental implants. When it does, you’ll start to experience some discomfort. This can be alleviated with over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. We’ll provide you with instructions for using these and any other medications you might be prescribed.
First 24 Hours After Dental Implant Surgery
Don’t brush your teeth near the surgical site, but do continue to brush and floss—just don’t rinse or spit for the first 24 hours. Also avoid smoking or using straws for that first day.
A soft food diet is a good idea after dental implant surgery and in the initial day after surgery, a liquid diet is best—smoothies, soups, yogurt, and juice. In the first 24 hours, you may also experience sensitivity to hot and cold. Avoid hot, spicy foods and carbonated or alcoholic beverages.
You should restrict your activities and plan on getting plenty of rest the first day after your surgery. After this, you can usually return to work, although this depends on the extent of your procedure. We can help you decide when you’re ready to go back to your normal activities.
First Few Days After Dental Implant Surgery
Swelling around your face, eyes, and the surgical site usually peaks around the 2–3 day mark. The best way to alleviate this is with a cold compress or carefully applied ice pack. With an ice pack, always wrap it in a dishcloth or towel before applying it. Use compresses for 20 minutes on, then 20 minutes off. After 36 hours, moist heat can be used to bring down further swelling.
After the first 24 hours has passed, you should gently rinse with warm salt water three times a day. Combine one-half teaspoon of salt with 8-ounces of water and stir until the salt is dissolved. This can soothe any discomfort and promote healing.
You’ll have follow-up appointments at our office to check-in on your progress and healing, but prior to this, our team will call you to make sure you’re doing well and to see if there’s anything we can do for you. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have during these calls—we’re here to support you!
How to Know if Something Is Wrong
If you have excessive bleeding or discomfort 48–72 hours after your surgery, call our office. You should also notice that with each passing day, you’re feeling better and better. If, instead, the pain and swelling is becoming worse as time goes on, it’s a sign that you may have an infection. Other signs of infection include fever, discharge from the surgical site, and a foul taste.