How do I take care of a dental implant?
Dental implants are an excellent option and investment in overall health, and Straumann dental implants are designed to last a lifetime with proper maintenance and care. Just like natural teeth, dental implants require consistent dental check-ups and diligent oral hygiene.
Dental teams are well trained to discuss cleaning and aftercare steps to take at every stage of the procedure, from after implant surgery, to long-term care of the new teeth. By following their regimen, which includes brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings and checkups, dental implants can be successfully maintained for decades.
Post-surgical steps and tips
After dental implant surgery, it’s important to follow all of the dental team’s instructions. As healing begins, these are a few of the important topics they will discuss:
- Swelling: Cool the external treatment area with ice or cool packs as soon as possible after the operation to help prevent pain and swelling.
- Pain: Start taking any pain medication as prescribed.
- Oral rinses: Do not use oral rinses in the first few hours after the operation, as this may cause bleeding. However, sipping water after the procedure is permissible.
- Temporary restoration: The dentist may place a “healing cap” or a temporary tooth replacement. A healing cap is placed on the implant to allow the mouth to heal. Avoid chewing anything hard on the side where the dental implant was placed. This will help the dental implant to heal in preparation for the next step of the treatment.
- Body Position: Sitting is better than lying down. Keep the head up during the day and also at night. Do not lie on the side where the implant was placed.
- Driving: Do not drive in the first few hours after the operation. A patient’s ability to drive might be impaired by anesthetic or medication.
- Oral Care: Do not use a toothbrush in the dental implant area of the mouth until the stitches are removed. The dentist and hygienist may recommend using an oral rinse instead of brushing the new teeth.
- Food: Do not eat until the anesthetic has worn off. Avoid hot drinks and spicy, acidic, crunchy, or hard food for the first day.
- Rest: Avoid alcohol, nicotine, coffee, black tea, and sports or physical exertion for the first few days after procedure
Caring for new teeth
Both the patient and the dental team contribute to the long-term success of dental implant procedures. Dental teams will prepare individual patient oral care plans, and advise on cleaning techniques specific to each treatment situation. Just like with natural teeth, dental tartar can build and cause problems for dental implants, and diligent oral care is vital to the long-term success of new teeth. Long-term care instructions include:
- Use a soft toothbrush (change regularly) or an electric toothbrush for cleaning teeth.
- Use cleaning aids recommended by the dental team, such as interdental brushes or irrigation devices for cleaning the spaces between teeth.
- Brush teeth on the inside, outside, and top surfaces where chewing occurs.
- Specific dental implant cleaning and flossing techniques may be recommended
- Regular check-ups and preventive visits to the dentist are necessary to keep new teeth healthy.
What if a problem occurs?
Complications are rare after dental implant placement. Patients often report minimal pain or downtime, and stitches are usually removed about seven to ten days after the procedure. Straumann dental implants are thoroughly researched and scientifically backed devices; however, there may be possible side effects. It is very important to contact the dentist immediately if certain symptoms or side effects appear, such as:
- Excessive pain on the day of the operation
- Numbness at the dental implant site 12 hours after the operation
- Unusual discomfort or swelling at the dental implant site several days after the operation
- Bleeding continues after the day of surgery
- Loss of the temporary tooth
If you have any symptoms or questions not mentioned above that become cause for concern, contact the dentist, hygienist, dental implant coordinator, or any member of the dental care team.