If you’re considering getting dental implants to replace missing teeth or you already have and are curious about the healing process, you’ve come to the right place! While implants can take a few months to fully heal and integrate with the jaw bone, you’ll be left with a permanent tooth replacement that can last you for a lifetime.
Eating, speaking, and smiling will be so much easier with your new dental implant and you won’t have to worry about bone loss. To learn more about what to expect through the recovery process, read on in this blog from Douglas G. Hope DDS, FAGD.
How Long Does it Take to Heal From Dental Implants?
This depends on if we’re talking about the healing of your gums after oral surgery or the healing of your jaw. You will undergo two minor oral surgeries that are months apart from each other. The first surgery is the placement of the implant in the jawbone and the second surgery involves reopening the gums to attach an abutment to the implant.
Both of these surgeries will take from a few days to 2 weeks to heal depending on your overall and oral health as well as the complexity of your procedure. Those who receive multiple implants, smoke, or have received bone grafts will take a little longer to heal than a very straightforward placement of one implant in a healthy mouth.
Your jaw, however, will take the longest to heal. The reason dental implants are unique as a tooth restoration is that the implant fuses with the jaw bone through osseointegration. This process takes months to occur and results in the artificial tooth root stimulating the jaw bone to prevent bone loss and provide a secure anchor for the tooth.
Osseointegration takes 3-6 months to complete after which the abutment can be attached and then several weeks later, the dental crown.
What Is the Healing Process Like?
Bleeding, tenderness, swelling, and mild to moderate pain can be expected after undergoing oral surgery. You will be given gauze to bite down on immediately after your surgery to stop the bleeding. You should bite down on it for 30 minutes and replace it with fresh dampened gauze if the bleeding continues.
This will help form blood clots at the implant site, which protects the wound and encourages new tissue growth. If a blood clot never forms or becomes dislodged, the nerve endings and bone tissue will be exposed, leading to a painful condition called dry socket.
Bleeding can persist for up to 72 hours, so make sure you frequently change your gauze. Swelling will peak 2-3 days after your procedure. With each passing day, your bleeding, swelling, and pain should go down. If this is not the case, you should contact your dentist right away.
Aftercare For Dental Implants
If bleeding persists, you can try biting down onto a wet caffeinated tea bag that contains tannic acid. This will promote the formation of blood clots by constricting blood vessels. However, bleeding should not be excessive or continue for more than 72 hours after the procedure.
To reduce swelling, apply a cold compress such as an ice pack to the affected area, alternating between 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off. Elevating your head when you lay down can also reduce swelling, as well as taking anti-inflammatory pain medication such as ibuprofen.
If you are experiencing pain or tenderness, take prescribed or over-the-counter anti-pain medication. If pain is severe, contact the dentist right away. For the first 24 hours, the only thing you should do to clean your mouth is to gently rinse with a warm saltwater solution. Let it leak out in the sink without spitting. After 24 hours, you can gently brush your teeth again but be careful around the implant site.
Will I Have Any Restrictions?
Especially in the first 24 hours, you should not smoke, drink alcohol or hot liquids, engage in strenuous activity, eat hard or sticky foods, or chew on the side of the mouth with the implant.
You should stick to soft foods such as mashed potatoes and apple sauce for a few days to a week. Avoid all forms of suction such as sucking through a straw, spitting, or inhaling a cigarette. These can dislodge your blood clots and lead to a dry socket.
Dental Implants at Douglas G. Hope DDS, FAGD
Once you get through the healing process, you’ll be cleared to use your tooth restoration just like a normal tooth. Unlike dentures, you won’t have to worry about bone loss, shifting teeth, or food restrictions.
If you’re interested in dental implants, contact us at Douglas G. Hope DDS, FAGD today. You must have adequate bone density and health. To find out if dental implants are right for you, schedule a consultation with Dr. Douglas Hope.