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Matt Hlavacek, MD, DDS

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Recovering from dental implant surgery

June 12, 2014, 3:33 am

A healthy mouth is a beautiful mouth. Unfortunately, many people suffer embarrassment, worry, or even physical pain due to having damaged, diseased, or missing teeth. Friends and loved ones may ask why they hide their smile behind their hand or why they keep their lips tightly clamped together when smiling. For those who haven’t experienced the emotional and physical discomfort of an unhappy mouth, this can be hard to understand. Thankfully, technology has come a long way, and dental implants may offer the solution that many patients need to smile freely again.

Dental implants are ideal for replacing missing teeth, severely damaged teeth, or diseased teeth that can’t be saved. Previously we discussed a general overview of dental implants as well as their benefits. Today we are going to look at recovery after dental implant surgery and steps you can take to ensure that your implants last for many years to come.

If you are considering dental implants to restore your smile, you probably are hoping for long-term benefits. Dental implants are an investment that may pay dividends for a lifetime, but they do require proper care and maintenance during the recovery period and for life. Such an investment, when properly cared for, allows many patients to smile without inhibition — expressing joy and confidence. For many patients, dental implants also restore lost function when it comes to chewing, thus allowing the patient to enjoy favorite foods and meals without experiencing discomfort or pain.

Immediately after the initial surgical procedure to implant the post for your dental implant, it is normal to experience some pain and swelling of the gums and possibly the cheek and face. Prescription pain medication may be offered, and depending on your level of discomfort, you may be advised to apply a cold compress or ice pack. It is important to understand that for the first several days, possibly even a full week, your diet should consist of soft foods. If ever there was a great excuse to have smoothies every day, this might be it!

After the first week, any pain or swelling should have decreased significantly, and for most patients will have disappeared entirely. However, the absence of symptoms does not mean your jaw is fully healed. Placement of the titanium post into the jaw may be likened to healing a fractured bone. It takes time, even a few months. How long it will take will depend on a number of factors, including your overall health, health of your mouth and jaw, and how well you care for your implant and mouth after your procedure. It is imperative that you keep any post-procedure follow-up appointments.

Most patients have a temporary crown, sometimes called a provisional restoration, placed on the titanium post. This will mimic the permanent crown that will eventually be put in place. It is important to treat the titanium post and temporary crown or denture as if they are regular parts of the mouth. You will need to clean and care for them as if they were natural teeth. Proper brushing and flossing are critical to successful dental implant surgery and to avoid infection. If you have any concerns about how to care for the titanium post or temporary denture or crown, do not hesitate to reach out to Dr. Hlavacek for guidance. It is Dr. Hlavacek’s goal to be your partner and champion along every step of the way in your dental implant journey and to work with you to ensure a successful outcome.

The two most common causes of dental implant failure, infection, and further deterioration of the jaw and surrounding teeth are failure to brush and floss properly and smoking. In fact, well before your dental implant surgery, be sure to have a dental visit in which you discuss proper flossing and brushing, and if you smoke, make plans to quit. By putting these good habits into place as far ahead of surgery as possible, you will increase your odds of continuing them after your procedure.

To learn more about dental implants and about other mouth restoration options, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with Dr. Hlavacek at Kansas City Surgical Arts. Suffering from damaged or missing teeth or dental disease takes a physical toll, but it also causes emotional stress. Dental implants and other restoration options are available. Call us today at (816) 286-4126 and take the first step toward having a worry-free smile!