Getting a dental implant isn’t like popping a retainer in your mouth. It’s a surgery and it will require aftercare. Although that would be nice (maybe someday).
Right after getting a dental implant, there are certain things you’ll want to do and not do, like drink only cold beverages and don’t do strenuous exercise.
We’ll get into the exact aftercare steps in more detail below.
How To Clean Dental Implants
Cleaning your dental implant is the best thing you can do at home to ensure a long and healthy implant lifespan. This is especially important in the days immediately following surgery.
So here’s the best way to clean your implants and some tools you can use.
How To Clean Dental Implants At Home
Basically, cleaning your dental implants looks the same as cleaning your natural teeth. Simply brush, floss, and even use non-alcoholic mouthwash on a daily basis.
But because these are artificial teeth, there are certain things to keep in mind. Food particles and bacteria can actually get stuck in the areas around the implant. This can lead to the formation of plaque, which, if untreated, can lead to an infection.
To keep your artificial teeth as clean as possible, you should consider getting these dental implant cleaning instruments.
You can use a typical toothbrush to brush your dental implants, but patients wonder what type of toothbrush to use. There is essentially no dramatic difference when using sonic, electric, or manual toothbrushes, so any of those are fine to use.
The main considerations should be how the brush feels on your implant and how easy the brush is to use. But whatever toothbrush you choose, it needs to be soft-bristled.
There are plenty of types of floss out there, and it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. Generally, dentists recommend using unwaxed tape or floss specifically for implants, ensuring that the surrounding tissue is best protected.
But then for many types of prostheses, you should use a floss threader. To be safe, check with your dentist about what floss to use for your specific denture.
Oral Irrigators (aka Water Flossers)
Oral irrigators can really help with reducing plaque and inflammation. Find a water flosser with a nonmetal tip and use it one to two times every day, supplementing it with non-alcoholic antimicrobial rinse as desired.
Stimulators can really encourage healthy gum tissue, which is crucial in maintaining a dental implant. The best kind to use are rubber-tipped stimulators so as to be gentle on the gums.
Professional Dental Implant Cleaning
It’s very important to get your dental implant cleaned by a professional periodically. They will need to thoroughly clean the threads of the implant, the surrounding tissue, and your natural teeth. This helps keep away bacteria, which can lead to an infection. Plus, it’s good for the dentist to inspect the overall condition and alignment of the implant.
Your hygienist will probably incorporate scaling, a method that cleans much deeper than the surface of the tooth, cleaning below the gumline to remove the buildup of plaque. This is more than just your average dental cleaning.
How Often Should Your Dentist Clean Your Implant?
When you first get your implants, you’ll be visiting your dentist frequently. Over the several-month process, you probably make several visits.
However, after the initial period of osseointegration and adaption, you should treat your implant like the rest of your teeth. This means going to the dentist every six months.
Dental Implant Care And Maintenance
It is so important you know how to maintain and clean dental implants properly, or else you could experience one or more of the complications associated with improper dental implant care.
If not cleaned properly, dental implants can start bleeding, also known as mucositis. If this is caught early, it’s actually reversible, but if it progresses too much, it could lead to infection and even bone loss. This is not reversible and may require the removal of the implant and even a bone graft.
Dental Implant Care 48 Hours After Placement
The first 48 hours after the dental implant surgery are the most pivotal. This is when the symptoms are most pronounced.
The first hour after surgery, keep firm but gentle pressure on the gauze packs with your teeth, keeping them in place.
Make sure not to change out the gauze until after that first hour, unless you have heavy and persistent bleeding. If you do have bleeding that doesn’t stop, put the new gauze in place for 30 minutes and then switch it out. After that, change the gauze every 30 to 45 minutes.
Here some symptoms you’ll probably see in the first day:
- Persistent bleeding
Seeing these symptoms means your body is healing itself.
To help your recovery go smoothly and to avoid complications make sure to follow these tips:
- Don’t disturb the surgical areas
- Brush your teeth the night of surgery with a gentle toothbrush
- After the first 24 hours, rinse with salt water 2-3 times a day
- Apply ice if needed
On the second and third days after the procedure, continue caring for your whole mouth. You may notice discoloration or bruising around the surgical areas, but this is normal and should last for 2-3 days. After a few days, you can apply gentle heat to the area to decrease the discoloration and bruising.
Some patients notice a sharp protrusion in their mouth. If you’re worried about it, feel free to contact your dentist. Other things you may experience dry lips, a sore throat, and stiff jaw muscles, but these are all expected side effects of using gauze.
Dental Implant Aftercare Instructions For The First Weeks
In the following days and weeks after your procedure, you should continue your care using the dental cleaning tools we mentioned above and regularly visiting your dentist. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing with salt water should become second nature to you as your implants continue to heal.
One other thing you may want to consider is altering your diet, incorporating less acidic foods, softer foods, and nutrient-rich drinks and foods.
And one step that cannot be overemphasized is that you need to schedule post-operative appointments with your dentist. It’s essential to the health of your dental implant, and it allows the dentist to clean and inspect your teeth (as we talked about above). After getting an implant, you should be visiting your dentist for regular checkups at least every six months, maybe more frequently.
Before you go under the knife, you should buy all of the supplies you’ll need for your at-home aftercare, like ice packs, soft foods, and gauze pads. You don’t want to be running to the store after you’ve had surgery — you need rest!