After careful consideration and consultation, with the guidance of your dentist, you’ve decided that implant surgery is the best solution for your dental woes. This can happen for a plethora of reasons, but most often, implants are installed when a tooth is experiencing trouble below the gum line. This means that procedures like a root canal or cavity filling won’t be able to reach the problem area, and therefore, an implant is the best route to take to fix a tooth that needs to be extracted. Once a tooth is removed, an implant is installed in its place with metal posts or frames directly into the jawbone beneath your gums.
Implants fuse into your jawbone and serve as artificial teeth providing the same support and structure a real tooth would. If a tooth needs to be removed due to issues below the gum line, it’s important to replace the tooth with a replica in order to maintain the structure of all your other teeth. These implants are important to everyday functions like eating and talking. Alternative options include things like bridges and dentures, which can be uncomfortable and unnatural-feeling for some. For most people, bridges and dentures are not practical or possible to wear, making implants one of the most common choices for people who need to remove teeth and replace them with a long-lasting and comfortable solution.
Types of Implants
There are two different types of implants that are recommended by oral surgeons and dentists, which are also approved by the ADA:
Endosteal: These implants are placed directly into the jawbone and once the gum tissue has healed upon the first surgery, a second surgery is needed to connect a post to the initial implant. After this, a false tooth is attached to the post to maintain a natural look.
Subperiosteal: These types of implants require a metal frame that is installed and grafted onto the jawbone. Posts are then attached to the frame, which protrudes through the gums. Artificial teeth are then placed onto the posts.
To be eligible for implants, you must have healthy gums and enough bone structure in your jaw to support the implant. You also have to make sure you keep your gums and oral health in tip-top shape to support your new implant. Implants are the preferred option because neighboring teeth don’t need to be ground down or prepped like they do with bridges and don’t need to be held down in place with intrusive metal that can become uncomfortable.
Upon your implant surgery, you will have to be very cautious to not disturb the surrounding area. There are many helpful tips to help you navigate the first few hours, day, and weeks following your procedure:
Post-op: Immediately after surgery, you will want to bite down on the gauze your surgeon has placed in the operated area. Do so gently, while making sure they remain in place. Don’t touch, remove, or replace the gauze within the first hour after surgery unless the bleeding is not controlled, in which case you should contact your oral surgeon immediately. If there is minimal bleeding that hasn’t stopped, place enough gauze in the area in hold in place with slight pressure until it stops (about 30 minutes). After the initial hour, you can change your gauze as you feel necessary.
Caution: Be careful to not cause any direct contact with the surgical site. Don’t probe the area with any objects, brushes, or floss. You can brush your teeth, however, but very carefully, making sure to avoid the area for the first few days, especially. Refrain from smoking during the healing process as it can delay healing and increase discomfort, causing “dry sockets.”
Pain: With any kind of oral surgery there will always be a level of discomfort, swelling, and pain. There will also be a bit of oozing from the implant site for about 48 hours after the procedure. Your surgeon will prescribe the appropriate pain medications for you to help reduce the level of discomfort you may feel within the next couple of days.
Icing: The first 24 hours after your surgery are the most crucial for icing. Use ice packs are specifically made for facial icing that is gentle and won’t be too hard or painful to hold on the surgery site. Never ice for more than 15 minutes at a time and be sure to ice in short rounds, without ever overexposing your skin to cold temperatures.
Cleaning: You can brush your teeth the night of your surgery but very carefully around the implant. It’s important to keep your mouth clean since you will have an open wound in your mouth for several days that is susceptible to bacteria that can grow in the mouth. You can begin salt water rinses 24 hours after your surgery using one tablespoon of salt for every 8 ounces of water. Swish the salt water gently in your mouth and allow the water to spill out of your mouth into the sink, do not forcefully spit it out as it can disrupt the clotting process of the implant wound site. You can rinse up to three times a day, especially after eating.
Activities: The day of your surgery will be restricting as you shouldn’t move around too much after your procedure and consider bed rest for the remainder of the day. Any vigorous activity can increase bleeding, swelling, and pain. Also be very careful when standing up from laying position and some people can experience light-headedness and dizziness immediately following the procedure. Avoid exercise for at least 3 to 4 days following surgery, and be aware of your lowered caloric and fluid intake post-surgery.
Having implant surgery may seem intimidating, but it’s a procedure that is one every day for people from all walks of life. People of all ages can benefit from this kind of dental surgery and go on to live normally with their implants as though they have their original tooth in place.