Hawaii Pacific Dental Group, Inc.

The Recovery Process after Dental Implant Surgery

By Dr. Rohinton J. Patel on May 26, 2014

A woman in a field of flowersWhen patients suffer from lost teeth, more than just their appearance is at stake. Over time, missing teeth can result in loss of bone tissue, changing facial structure, a shifting bite, and impaired diet and speech. Through the use of dental implants, patients can fully replace their teeth for a healthy bite and restored smile.

Like any surgical procedure, though, dental implants need time to properly heal. This includes the initial days and weeks, wherein patients will experience certain post-surgical side effects, as well as the following weeks and months toward the end of recovery. After undergoing implant surgery at our Honolulu office, keep the following recovery timeline in mind.

The Day of Surgery

When you arrive home after implant surgery, it’s best to relax throughout the rest of the day. In addition to the fatigue you will likely feel from surgery, your incisions and damaged tissues will need time to begin the initial healing process. In addition to resting, it may also be a good idea to apply an ice pack to your cheeks and jaw for 15-minute intervals. This will help minimize any subsequent swelling over the following days.

For the first few hours after surgery, your gums may bleed lightly from the surgical site. Applying gauze to the area should help reduce the frequency and degree of bleeding, which should stop altogether by the end of the day.

Early Recovery

One of the first symptoms patients should notice is pain or discomfort around the implant area, particularly as the anesthesia from treatment begins to wear off. As soon as patients begin to notice any pain after surgery, they should begin to take the pain medication prescribed by their cosmetic dentist. The majority of discomfort will be experienced in the first few days of recovery, although this can largely be controlled through the appropriate medication. After this time, over-the-counter analgesics such as ibuprofen and aspirin are usually enough to manage pain.

Patients will also experience bruising and swelling in the first couple of days, which should reach their peak by the third day. Both of these are common side effects of surgery, and should not be a concern unless they persist or continue to worsen. On average, patients can expect both bruising and swelling to gradually decrease by the end of the first week, usually lasting no longer than 10 to 14 days in total.

Throughout this initial recovery period, it is important that patients do not eat any foods that may disrupt the implants or put excess pressure on them. A soft food diet is therefore recommended while the implants heal, and patients are advised to avoid chewing directly with their implants.  

The Following Weeks and Months

After the first week or two, the recovery process is mostly unnoticeable. Patients can continue to engage in all daily activities without discomfort or worry, all while the implants continue to be strengthened by surrounding gum and bone tissue. This time is still vital to the healing process, however, as implants require months to fully integrate with the jaw.

During this time, patients will no longer experience side effects of surgery, but they should be cognizant of any potential dangers. Too much stress or pressure on the implants may hinder their healing, and any physical trauma will certainly pose a risk. Most patients complete the full recovery process within three to six months, but your dentist will be able to tell you exactly when the implants have successfully integrated. At this point, permanent restorations such as dental crowns can be attached to the implants, and your teeth will be fully replaced.

Prepare for a Successful Recovery

Dental implants are an excellent way to restore lost teeth, but patients must take the right precautions to prevent implant failure after surgery. Speak with Dr. Patel for a more detailed explanation of what to do after implant surgery and what you can expect throughout recovery. Contact us to schedule a consultation or your next appointment.

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