Professional dental implant care is important after a dental implant restoration.
Dental implants are a wonderful restoration option for patients who’ve experienced tooth loss. They are beautiful, permanent, mimic natural tooth structure, and have a high success rate when cared for properly.
Failure of a dental implant or rejection is exceptionally rare, but to minimize risks it’s important for patients to follow through with a thorough implant aftercare routine at home. Dental implant treatment is an oral surgery procedure, and implant aftercare is more intense compared to a root canal or even a tooth extraction.
The good news is the mouth heals quickly with only some additional care on your part during the first couple of weeks and months.
The Basics of a Thorough Dental Implant Aftercare Routine
Your dentist will supply you with detailed instructions after your dental implant has been placed. In case you’ve misplaced these instructions or you’re simply preparing for your upcoming implant appointment, here are the basics to remember.
Eat a soft foods diet for your initial healing period.
After your dental implant post is placed, you’ll need to stick to a liquid and soft foods diet for a week or two, depending on your dentist’s instructions. Although you might be craving a burger or a crunchy chocolate bar, resist the temptation. Your implant is very sensitive during the first part of the healing process.
Follow your dentist’s instructions for pain medication.
Your dentist will supply you with guidelines on pain medication. These may be a prescription or a combination of over-the-counter pain medication. You’ll experience swelling and inflammation during the first week, so take any anti-inflammatories recommended by your dentist, even if the pain feels manageable.
Rest as often as needed and pay attention to your body.
Every person is unique when it comes to healing. Some patients may feel ready to return to work within a day, others may need a few days off to relax. Listen to your body and follow what it’s telling you. Rest as much as you need and don’t hesitate to stay home in bed if you’re not feeling great.
Brush and floss twice a day as usual and after meals.
Keeping your teeth clean is always important, but it’s even more vital right now. Take your time to carefully brush and floss in the morning and before bed, as well as after meals. You don’t want any food debris or residue from sugary drinks sitting on the healing implant. Once your dental implant is 100% healed, you can return to twice-daily brushing.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head.
The area around the dental implant will be tender. We recommend buying a new toothbrush that has very soft bristles and a small, round head. It may seem silly, but sometimes kids’ toothbrushes are the perfect size for gently cleaning around the dental implant post. After your dental implant is healed we strongly encourage patients to continue only using a soft-bristled brush to prevent enamel erosion and gum irritation.
Swish with an alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash.
Your dentist will likely recommend you not use a traditional mouthwash immediately after your dental implant surgery as it can be a bit too harsh. Swish with a warm saltwater solution for the first few days, and when you’re given the OK to go back to mouthwash, choose an ADA-recommended product that’s alcohol-free and antibacterial in nature.
Upgrade to an electric toothbrush and water flosser.
Electric toothbrushes and water flossers (i.e. a Waterpik) are two valuable upgrades to your implant aftercare routine. Electric toothbrushes offer superior cleaning power and most have heads that are small, round, and soft-bristled. Water flossers are also very effective for dislodging food debris and bacteria, especially around the dental crown on your implant.
Periodically check the implant site for signs of inflammation.
If your dental implant is in an easily visible location, we recommend taking a look in the mirror every now and then to ensure there are no signs of inflammation or irritation, especially along your gums. Peri-implantitis is similar to gum disease but occurs in patients who’ve had a dental implant. It results in gum damage around the dental implant and may look red, swollen, and show signs of receding.
This brings us to our final tip, and perhaps one of the most important.
Book an appointment if anything feels off about your oral health.
Whether it’s peri-implantitis, abnormal healing, sudden pain, or even a completely unrelated oral health issue, always book an appointment at the very first sign of trouble. The sooner your dentist can see you, the sooner you’ll feel a lot better!
Maintain regular check-ups with Berrien Dental during the healing process and beyond.
After your dental implant has been placed you’ll usually be back to see us for a check-up within a week or two to ensure the initial healing process is on the right track.
If everything looks normal, your dentist may recommend another check-up in another two weeks or a month. Eventually, you’ll return to a fairly normal schedule of routine preventive care appointments. It’s important to follow through with these appointments and not postpone visits as it’s crucial for your dentist to be able to catch signs of trouble as early on as possible.
If you need to book a visit with your dentist or have any questions about dental implants, you can call our St. Joseph office. During non-business hours and weekends, you can also fill out this quick online booking form.