Dental implants can be required for a variety of reasons, from injury to tooth decay. No matter what the reason for needing an implant, the process for getting them into your mouth is the same. Implant surgery can be performed at a dental office, but it is more involved than a simple cavity filling or tooth extraction. We take a look at the procedure and recovery time for dental implants, as well as how to care for your implants to avoid problems down the road.
What is the procedure for a dental implant?
Dental implant surgery involves extracting your old tooth (if necessary) and inserting a titanium post directly into your jawbone. Once the post is secure and settled in your mouth, a crown or overdenture is placed on top of it to protect it and give you the feeling of having a natural tooth. The procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia, general anesthesia, or sedation, depending on the patient’s preference. Your dental team will work with you to determine which option is best for you, and give you instructions on how to prepare for your implant surgery.
In some cases, bone grafting may be needed if your jawbone is not strong enough to support the implant post. This involves taking bone from another part of your body and placing it into your mouth. Your dental professional will take X-rays to help determine whether a bone graft is necessary to support the implant.
What is the recovery like after the implant surgery?
Once the dental implant post is in your mouth, the recovery process can begin. Your body needs to generate enough new bone to fully support the implant. This process is called osseointegration. You can think of it like a plant growing roots to support itself as it grows. Over time, the implant, even though it’s artificial, will become part of your mouth. Dental implant procedure recovery time varies from patient to patient, but it usually takes at least a few months for the bone to grow enough to support a crown or overdenture. You’ll have a temporary crown in place while this process happens.
What can I expect right after the surgery?
For the first 2-3 days after the surgery, you’ll need to keep the area dry and clean. Bleeding and swelling are common as your body recovers from oral surgery and adjusts to the new post in your mouth. Brush your teeth gently and avoid eating any hard foods or things that can get stuck in the implant area, like nuts, popcorn, and rice.
It is also recommended that you avoid exercise or any strenuous physical activity for the first few days after your implant surgery. These activities can increase, bleeding, swelling, and pain in your mouth and add to your recovery time.
Your dentist will schedule several follow up appointments after your implant surgery to check on your recovery and determine when you might be ready to have a permanent crown installed. This should take anywhere from 3-6 months depending on your body and your specific situation.
How should I take care of my implant?
After going through such an extensive process, the last thing you want is to have dental implant problems years later. Proper care and maintenance of your implants are necessary to make sure this doesn’t happen. You should treat your implant as you would any other tooth when it comes to brushing and flossing — you can’t skip over it because it’s an artificial tooth. The implant does fuse with your mouth and become part of your body, so it’s susceptible to problems just like your natural teeth.
Lifestyle changes should be considered as well, such as quitting smoking or changing a diet, to go along with good oral hygiene. Caring for your implant can only go so far if you are engaging in behaviors that damage your mouth on a consistent basis.
If you have any questions about dental implant surgery, call Winning Smiles to schedule an appointment with your dentist – 716-332-2444.