Dental implants are an increasingly popular form of dental prosthetic, and for good reason. They offer a lasting, natural-feeling solution for lost or missing teeth, allowing the patient to resume normal activities fairly quickly after the implant is successfully installed. And while implants aren’t cheap, they’ve grown more affordable over the last few years and more insurance companies are willing to cover them.
With all that said, you may still have some questions: how do implants work, exactly, and how should I care for my implant or implants after they’re in place. As it turns out, aftercare for dental implants is extremely important in ensuring their success. Let’s take a closer look at implants, how they work, and how to care for a new implant.
How Dental Implants Work
Dental implants are prosthetic replacements for lost or missing natural teeth. They mimic the look of natural teeth via an artificial tooth mounted to a titanium base. Here’s how it works: the titanium base is surgically implanted into the jawbone where the natural tooth should be. When that’s healed and bonded with the bone, a prosthetic tooth is installed on top of it. This prosthesis is virtually indistinguishable from a natural tooth, allowing the patient to take part in most normal activities: eating, drinking, speaking and the like.
For most patients, dental implant surgery is fairly straightforward, with minimal pain and discomfort as the titanium base heals into place. The whole procedure can generally be accomplished with only a few office visits.
Aftercare for Dental Implants
A new implant does require some aftercare, however, following each stage of the process. While dental implants don’t require major surgery to install, it is a surgical procedure and the aftercare needs to reflect this. Some bleeding may occur for up to 72 hours following the procedure. The best way to address this is to take it easy–avoid unnecessary activity, follow your dentist’s or oral surgeon’s suggestions for eating and drinking, and avoid smoking or excessive talking. Biting down on a clean gauze pad can help with the bleeding. If the gauze isn’t effective, biting down on a used black tea bag can help–the tannins in the spent tea leaves help constrict blood vessels and slow bleeding.
There may be some mild to moderate pain or discomfort in the days following the installation of a dental implant. Tylenol is generally the safest over-the-counter painkiller to use, as some other kinds of OTC painkillers can interfere with the body’s healing processes for the jaw bone. This can slow recovery, and is thus best avoided. Pain and swelling of the jaw may occur and can be addressed with a combination of Tylenol and intermittent use of an ice pack. Apply the ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, and then take a break for an hour or so.
The bleeding and pain should subside within four days or so. If they persist, or get worse, contact your dentist.
Long Term Success With Dental Implants
The good news about dental implants is that once they’re installed correctly, they require no more care than a natural tooth. Regular and effective brushing and flossing, a good diet, and overall healthy living will help ensure that your dental implant lasts a lifetime.
A dental implant is more than a cosmetic procedure. It’s a chance for your smile to look and feel its best, helping you in turn look and feel your best. If you’re interested in pursuing a dental implant, get in touch today. Our staff will make an appointment so that we can explore your options and start working toward your best possible smile.