Dental implant aftercare instructions. What are the do's and don'ts?

Richard Hattaway

Written by Richard Hattaway DDS, Nichole McKenna DDS, Matthew Stewart DDS

Getting the implant surgery is just the first step. Dental implant aftercare is equally important. You can easily avoid unnecessary pain, discomfort, and complications if you take proper care of your new smile.

The guide below explores full dental implant aftercare, including the day of surgery and the following weeks.

Begin proper care immediately after surgery

Control bleeding

Richard Hattaway

Richard Hattaway, DDS

Gentle pressure on the surgical site helps stop the bleeding. Do this for 45 minutes up to 2 hours.

If bleeding is excessive, bite down on a moistened black tea bag instead. The tannic acid constricts blood vessels and it is easier for blood clots to form.

In order to avoid unnecessary bleeding try to remain calm, sit upright, and refrain from physical exercise. Don’t bend over or lift anything heavy. Forceful spitting, smoking, and using a straw can also complicate blood clots forming.

Manage pain

Medication on tongue

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Minimize swelling and bruising

Swelling and bruising on your face and gums often appears on the day after your surgery. Sinus lifting might trigger bruising around your nose and eyes. The discoloration will peak 2-3 days after you return home and it will disappear on its own.

If it bothers you, you can place an ice pack on your face, closest to the area most affected. Keep it on for 15-20 minutes at a time, take a break, and repeat for 48 hours after surgery. Some OTC products also have an anti-inflammatory effect but use them with caution, as they can cause damage to the healing process.

Other things you can do include avoiding salt, staying hydrated, and sleeping in a propped-up position. Stack 2-3 pillows under your head when you go to bed.

Get enough rest

Most patients return to work the next day. If, however, your job requires strenuous activity, take a few days off.

Physical exertion and vigorous exercise should be avoided for about a week. Make sure to also get 8 hours of sleep every night. A big part of the healing process takes place when you are in bed.

Maintain proper oral hygiene

Professional dental cleaning

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Follow the right diet

Give up smoking and alcohol

Smoking impacts dental implant healing immensely. Under no circumstance can you smoke for at least 2 months after your surgery. Ideally, give up smoking for good. Nicotine works to constrict blood vessels which could mess with osseointegration and lead to infection or implant failure.

You should also abstain from alcohol consumption for no less than 72 hours after the placement procedure. The best solution would be to give up drinking for at least a week. It can slow down blood vessel formation and thus the implant may not fuse well enough with the bone.

Schedule a check-up visit

Implant between natural dentition

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Stay alert

FAQ

The most important thing is not to smoke or use nicotine products. Cigarettes are detrimental to proper healing of dental implants. It’s also a good idea to refrain from alcohol, especially until after 3 days post surgery.

Do not drink hot liquids or eat hard, crunchy food. Get enough rest and don’t strain yourself to allow your body to do its work.

The ADA stands against preventive antibiotics. Most specialists will not prescribe a course unless symptoms of infection appear.

If you are worried about swelling on your face or mouth, it may be a good idea to sleep with two pillows tucked behind your head. Such a propped-up position allows blood to easily flow down, away from the affected areas.

Some dentists also recommend a towel on your pillow the night of the surgery. Blood in the saliva may still be present at this time.

Stay away from hot drinks for a while. The first 2 or 3 days are most important. After that you are good to go. Remember to brush your teeth after, though, as coffee stains are tough to remove!

Hours after the surgery you might want to only drink liquids, especially if you feel nauseous. For the next few days, stick to soft foods to avoid placing too much pressure on the implant site. Most patients return to their regular diet after about a week.

References

  1. Tranexamic Acid Tamponade to Control Postoperative Surgical Hemorrhage - JOI
  2. Pre- and post-operative management of dental implant placement. Part 1: management of post-operative pain - Nature
  3. Influence of exposing dental implants into the sinus cavity on survival and complications rate: a systematic review - NCBI
  4. High-risk use of over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: a population-based cross-sectional study - NCBI
  5. Dental implant infections - PubMed
  6. Efficacy of chlorhexidine rinses after periodontal or implant surgery: a systematic review - PubMed
  7. Post-Surgical Clinical Monitoring of Soft Tissue Wound Healing in Periodontal and Implant Surgery - NCBI
  8. Shock Absorption Capacity of Restorative Materials for Dental Implant Prostheses: An In Vitro Study - ResearchGate