As with other surgical procedures, getting a dental implant usually involves some discomfort after the anesthesia has worn off. But dental implant technology has come a long way in recent years, reducing the amount of pain associated with the procedure. Computer-assisted planning at Wilmington Oral Surgery makes the process more efficient, cuts down the need for bone grafting, and makes recovery easier for most of our patients.
Many patients are pleasantly surprised with the speed of their recovery, and find they feel well enough to return to normal activities the day after surgery.
The keys to having a good experience when getting a dental implant are:
- Choosing an oral surgeon with an excellent track record of performing dental implant procedures
- Discussing your anesthesia options with the surgeon’s staff ahead of time to make sure you select the option that best fits your situation
- Following pre- and post-op instructions to the letter, such as rinsing with salt water, avoiding smoking and drinking from a straw, eating soft foods and keeping your head elevated
- Practicing good oral health habits after healing
The Dental Implant Surgery
The surgery has several steps. The area where the implant will go will be numbed, or you will be prepared for oral or IV sedation. Then the tooth or teeth involved are extracted, if they haven’t already been taken out. If necessary, a gum incision is then made to expose the part of the jawbone where the implant will go. A special drill creates a hole in the jawbone for the implant. The implant is placed, and then the abutment—the part that connects the implant to the artificial tooth—is screwed into the implant.
The gums are closed, with stitches if needed. Finally, the crown (your artificial tooth) is attached to the abutment.
The process varies by patient and oral health. If you have a complicated case, the process will have more phases and last longer. Instead of having a single treatment visit, you may have several, and will need time to heal after each treatment.
The Dental Implant Recovery
In addition to choosing the type of anesthesia right for you, you can reduce the amount of pain you experience after the procedure by getting pain prescriptions filled and taking them according to the surgeon’s post-op instructions. Over-the-counter medications are usually sufficient to handle pain or bleeding in the days after surgery. You may also experience short-term facial/gum swelling, and skin or gum bruising. Ice packs can help with the discomfort associated with these symptoms.
You will be asked to eat soft foods while the implant site heals. Dr. Puckett typically uses self-dissolving stitches, so you will not have to come back to the office to get them removed.
Compared to other alternatives such as dentures and bridges, dental implant crowns fit better and are therefore more comfortable. They also last longer, so you avoid the hassle of coming back to get new tooth replacement appliances.
Because maintenance is so simple, most people even forget they have implants once the initial healing period after surgery has passed! Once the implant has fused with the jawbone, there is no feeling attached to the implant per se. Your implant works like a normal tooth.
Most patients do not have any problems with their implants, and are delighted with their smile and the function of the crowns attached to their implants. These are just a few of the reasons dental implants are so popular.
To avoid complications after healing from the surgery, brush and floss, see your dentist for regular checkups, and avoid habits that can damage natural and artificial teeth, like chewing on ice and hard candy. If you grind your teeth, get treatment such as a night guard to protect your teeth.