Taking Care of Dental Implants

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Although compared to other dental treatments (such as full dentures) dental implants are very low maintenance, there are still some things you can do to take care of them. This prolongs their life span and prevents infection. Your dentist will be able to give you advice specific to your case, but there are some general guidelines for taking care of your implants in the stages after the surgery.

Immediately after the surgery

While you are still under local anaesthetic take care not to have hot drinks or to eat anything, in case of damaging your mouth or disrupting the implant area without realising it. For the first day or two after the surgery try to avoid hot drinks and hot food as these can irritate and slow the healing. You should not rinse the area with liquid, and try to avoid touching it with your fingers or tongue. You should also not undertake activities that take heavy toll on your body during the first couple of days – so rule out a run or a trip to the gym.

The First Few Days

It is quite normal for the area of gum to be swollen in the first few days, but this should subside after the second day. To reduce swelling, use an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables and wrap them in a towel. You should hold the pack on your face for 10 minutes at a time maximum and give yourself a 20 minute break in between. After the first 24 hours it might be more helpful to have a gentle heat, for example a hot flannel. If swelling persists for more than a few days, or increases with time, you should visit your dentist in case the implant is not healing correctly. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort from your swelling you might try sleeping on more pillows, as raising your head should help ease the blood causing the swelling away from that area. Your skin may also appear bruised, but again this will fade.

Some bleeding is normal. To stop, apply pressure to the area with a clean piece of gauze or material such as a handkerchief. After 30 minutes of pressure the bleeding should have stopped. Do not apply anything to the area that is not clean, as you put yourself at increased risk of infection.

If you have had a bone graft you may notice small grains or granules in your mouth. Gently rinse these out with water, taking care not to swill water over the implant area and disturb it.

Your mouth may be sore but the pain should not be too severe and taking simple pain killers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol should help. You can take these for the first couple of days, bearing in mind the suggested dose on the instructions. To minimise discomfort you could take a pain killer before the anaesthetic wears off. If you are still in pain after 2 days and it is not reducing you should go back and see your dentist.

The First Few Weeks

Some dentists use dissolvable stitches, which should remain for around 2 or 3 weeks. Some people find the stitches very uncomfortable however, and after a week they may not be necessary as your gum may have healed. If you are experiencing discomfort and your gum has healed your dentist may agree to remove the stitches after a week.

If your implant did not seem to be healing well in the first few days your dentist may have prescribed you with antibiotics to fight infection. Even if your mouth is feeling much better you must finish the whole course of medication. If you are a denture wearer and your denture normally covers the implant site you should try and wear your denture only when absolutely necessary for the first 4 weeks, and do not chew your food with a denture covering a fresh implant.

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