After Placement of Dental Implants

Now that you’ve had dental implant surgery, you probably have lots of questions:

  • How long will my recovery take?
  • Will there be any discomfort?
  • What can I eat, and when?

Hopefully, we’ve had a chance to address many of your concerns before leaving the office today. But just in case we didn’t, or if you need a reminder, here is some information about what to expect in the days following surgery.

Please remember that we are partners in caring for your health. Your doctor and nurses have done their best to minimize your discomfort, and start you off properly on the road to wellness. But the next phase recovery is in your hands. There is much you can do to assure that your recovery time is as short, painless and complication-free as possible. Please take a few moments to look over these suggestions for the days ahead.

Can I drive home?

If you were asleep for your surgery, it will take some time for your alertness and coordination to return to normal. You may also experience some blurring of vision following anesthesia. For these reasons, we recommend that you do not drive or operate machinery for the first 24 hours after surgery.

What if I notice bleeding after I leave the office?

Some oozing of blood from the surgical site is common after dental implants. This may occur for up to 48-72 hours following surgery. Your doctor has placed gauze sponges over the surgical site. Please continue to bite down firmly on these sponges for the first hour after surgery to help stop any bleeding. Please remember spitting and rinsing aggravates and stimulates bleeding. If you had implants placed in the upper jaw or if you had a sinus graft procedure bleeding from the nose is common. Do not blow your nose only blot and apply pressure.

What if the oozing is heavy?

Oozing can be quite heavy after some procedures. If the bleeding seems heavy, gently wipe out large clots from your mouth. Next, take two gauze sponges folded into fourths, or a moistened regular (not decaf or herbal) tea bag wrapped in gauze, and placed over the bleeding site. Bite down firmly for one hour without changing. Repeat the procedure if bleeding continues. In most cases, this will greatly reduce the amount of oozing. If active bleeding continues despite these measures, please call the office and let us know.

When can I have something to eat?

About an hour after surgery, you may remove the gauze sponges that have been placed in your mouth and have something to eat. Be sure to eat foods that are soft for the first 24 hours after surgery. Avoid hot foods and drinks for several hours after surgery. Also do not drink from a straw for at least 24 hours. These precautions will give your mouth a better chance to heal properly.

Will my recovery time be painful?

The amount of discomfort you’ll feel after surgery usually depends on how extensive your surgery was. If your doctor did not give you a prescription for pain medication at the office, he probably feels that your discomfort will be minimal. Ibuprofen or Tylenol should be adequate. The local anesthetic used during surgery will begin to wear off within 2 to 4 hours and you may begin to feel less comfortable after this time. Please take your first dose of either the prescription pain medication or the Ibuprofen/Tylenol after having something to eat and before the anesthetic starts to wear off.

Follow the directions on the medication bottle to know how much you should take. Be sure to call during regular office hours if the pain seems to be worsening instead of getting better after 5 to 7 days.

It’s not unusual for pain medications to cause nausea or even vomiting in some people. If this happens, try eating prior to or decreasing the amount of medication you’re taking. Over the counter pain medications cause less GI upset than narcotics. Try these if the narcotics seen to bother your stomach. If you still feel ill, stop taking the medication and call us during regular office hours so we can prescribe something else for your pain. DO NOT drive a motor vehicle, operate machinery or drink alcoholic beverages while taking prescription pain medication.

Will my face become swollen?

Swelling often occurs as part of the natural healing process, especially after bone grafting procedures. Facial swelling usually increases for 3 to 4 days after oral surgery, soon after that it will begin to subside. The swelling may make it difficult to open your mouth wide or to swallow. You may also notice some bruising on your face where the surgery was done, or experience numbness or tingling of the lip and/or tongue on the affected side. If you had implants placed on both sides of your mouth, it’s not uncommon for one side to be more swollen or uncomfortable that the other.
In most cases, you can help minimize the amount of swelling by applying an ice pack to your face over the area where surgery was done for the first 24 hours. If you had surgery on both sides, switch the ice pack from one side to the other every 30 minutes.

Is it normal to run a temperature after surgery?

Some patients develop a slight elevation in body temperature following oral surgery. You shouldn’t be concerned unless your temperature rises above 101.5. If it does, please call us.

Why do I need to take an antibiotic?

Dental implant surgery requires antibiotic therapy. Antibiotics are use to prevent infection on or around the dental implant or bone graft. It is important that you follow the dosage directions on the bottle and continue taking the medication until it’s finished. If you should develop a reaction to the medication, such as skin rash, stop taking the medication and call our office.

Please note that some antibiotics can interfere with the ability of birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. If you normally use oral contraceptives, please be sure to use an additional method of birth control during your current menstrual cycle.

Will I have sutures (stitches)?

Most oral surgical procedures require suturing the tissue together to aid healing. Most of the sutures we use fall out themselves over 3 – 5 days. Some sutures may need to be removed or take longer to dissolve.

Can I brush my teeth?

Good oral hygiene practices are as essential after oral surgery as at any other time. After 24 hours you can resume tooth brushing. It may also help to gently rinse your mouth every so often with mild salt water (1/4 teaspoon of salt in a glass of water). DO NOT use mouth wash or hydrogen peroxide rinses for 14 days.

Can I smoke?

No. Smoking of any kind after oral surgery interferes with the normal healing process and can increase your chances of developing an infection, failure of the implant and or bone grafts. Smokers have a higher risk of implant failure.

Do I need a follow up appointment?

Yes. The doctor usually wants to see you 3 weeks following the surgery. Then he will need to see you to either test the healing torque of the implant, or for the second stage procedure to uncover the implant and place the healing abutment if your implant was placed as a two-stage treatment. This is usually 2 to 4, or 4 to 6 months after the implant surgery. If you had only a bone graft, the implants are usually placed 3 to 4 months following the grafting procedure.

How soon can I resume my normal activities?

You can resume light activities as soon as you feel up to it. We do ask, though, that you limit strenuous activities for about 3 days. Do not perform activities which require coordination or concentration while taking narcotic pain medication; this includes driving.

When will I get my teeth?

This depends on how, where and what type of implant or grafting surgery you had done. Usually lower jaw implants are ready for teeth (integrated) 4 months after surgery. Upper jaw implants require 6 months of healing before the teeth are placed. There are special procedures when the implants can have temporary teeth placed on them right after implant placement. Your surgeon would have discussed that with you if you were a candidate

How can I reach my doctor if I need to?

One of the doctors can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling either our office number during regular office hours or our answering service at 215-750-4745 when our facility is closed. After you call, please keep your line free so that the doctor can return your call. If no one has responded after 30 minutes, please try again. If you feel this is an emergency please go to the nearest hospital emergency room or call 911. Please note if you need medication or medication refills you will need to call during regular office hours. Prescriptions will not be phoned in to your pharmacy after hours.

Regular Office Hours:
Monday  – Thursday 7:45 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Friday 6:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Saturday 8:00 a.m.  – 12:00 p.m.