Care After Dental Implant Placement
PLEASE NOTE: A metal healing cap may normally be visible protruding through the gums at the site of implant placement.
Day of Surgery
Bite down gently but firmly on the gauze packs that have been placed over the surgical areas, making sure they remain in place. Do not change them for the first 30 to 45 minutes. The packs may be gently removed after that time. If active bleeding persists, place enough new gauze to obtain pressure over the surgical site. The gauze may then be changed as necessary (typically every 30 to 45 minutes). It is best to moisten the gauze with tap water and loosely fluff for more comfortable positioning.
Do not disturb the surgical area today. Do NOT rinse vigorously or probe the area with any objects. You may brush your teeth gently. PLEASE DO NOT SMOKE OR DRINK THROUGH STRAWS for at least 48 hours, since this is very detrimental to healing.
Intermittent bleeding or oozing overnight is normal. Bleeding may be controlled by placing fresh gauze over the areas and biting on the gauze for 30-45 minutes at a time.
Bleeding should never be severe. If so, it usually means that the packs are being clenched between teeth only and are not exerting pressure on the surgical areas. Try repositioning the packs. If bleeding persists or becomes heavy, you may substitute a tea bag (soaked in very hot water, squeezed damp-dry and wrapped in a moist gauze) for 20 or 30 minutes. If bleeding remains uncontrolled, please call our office.
Swelling is often associated with oral surgery. It can be minimized by using a cold pack, ice bag or a bag of frozen vegetables (such as peas) wrapped in a towel and applied firmly to the cheek adjacent to the surgical area. This should be applied 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off during the first 12-24 hours after surgery.
Unfortunately most oral surgery is accompanied by some degree of discomfort. You will usually have a prescription for pain medication. If you take the prescription medication before the novocaine has worn off, you should be able to manage any discomfort better. Some patients find that stronger pain medicine causes nausea, but if you precede each pain pill with a small amount of food, it will reduce the chance that nausea will occur. The effects of pain medications vary widely among individuals. If your doctor has reviewed your medical history and advised you that this is okay, you may supplement each pain pill with a NSAID analgesic such as naproxen or ibuprofen. Remember that the most severe pain is usually within 36 hours after the local anesthetic wears off; after that your need for pain medicine should lessen. If you find you are taking large amounts of pain medicine at frequent intervals, please call our office. Your doctor may want to see you before prescribing you additional pain medication.
Nausea is not uncommon after surgery. Sometimes pain medications are the cause. Nausea can be reduced by preceding each pain pill with a small amount of soft food, and taking the pill with a large volume of water. Try to keep taking clear fluids and minimize dosing of pain medications, but call us if you do not feel better. Coca Cola or ginger ale may help with nausea.
Eat any nourishing food that can be eaten with comfort. Avoid extremely hot foods. Do not use a straw for the first few days after surgery. It is advisable to confine the first day’s intake to cold liquids or soft foods (ice cream, puddings, yogurt, milk shakes, etc.). It is best to avoid foods like nuts, sunflower seeds, popcorn, etc., which may get lodged in the surgical areas. Over the next several days you may gradually progress to solid foods. It is important not to skip meals! If you take nourishment regularly you will feel better, gain strength, have less discomfort and heal faster. If you are a diabetic, maintain your normal eating habits or follow instructions given by your doctor.
Instructions for the Second and Third Days
Keeping your mouth clean starting the day after surgery is essential. Use ¼ teaspoon of salt dissolved in an 8 ounce glass of warm water and gently rinse with portions of the solution, taking five minutes to use the entire glassful. Repeat as often as you like, but at least 3 to 4 times daily. If you are given a plastic irrigating syringe, use it to gently flush food debris away from around any visible implant healing cap(s) starting 3 days after surgery.
Begin your normal tooth brushing and flossing routine as soon as possible after surgery. Soreness and swelling may not permit vigorous brushing, and you should avoid the area where the doctor worked. But please make every effort to clean your teeth within the bounds of comfort.
You may apply warm compresses to the skin over the areas of swelling (hot water bottle, microwaveable gel packs, electric heating pad) for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off to help soothe tender areas starting the day after surgery. This will also help decrease swelling and stiffness.
Normal healing after dental implant placement should be as follows: The first two days after surgery are generally the most uncomfortable, and there is usually some swelling depending upon if your doctor placed any bone graft. On the third day you should be more comfortable and, although still swollen, can usually begin a more substantial diet. The remainder of the post-operative course should be gradual, steady improvement. If you don’t see continued improvement, please call our office.
It is our desire that your recovery be as smooth and pleasant as possible. Following these instructions will assist you, but if you have questions about your progress, please call our office. Calling during office hours will afford a faster response to your question or concern.