Dental implant aftercare

Dental implant aftercare

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Technology has evolved and this has made dental implant surgery much easier, with less pain and faster recovery. You still need to maintain and care for your mouth for a period of time after the surgery though, or risk implant failure.

After the surgery, it is vitally important that you maintain the practices that your dentist/ dental surgeon asks you to do. It is your responsibility to carry out the post-operative care, or you risk infection and damaging your implants. However, if you do look after your implants, it’s likely they will stay strong and healthy for many years to come.

Your dentist will give you a full explanation of what is required. Their advice supersedes any generic information you find online, and if you are concerned about a symptom or problem, contact the surgeon who performed the procedure.

On the days following surgery

Immediately after the surgery, you will be instructed to bite down on a gauze pad for an hour to slow/ stop the bleeding. Gently remove the pad, and then repeat for half an hour if required.

For the first 48 hours, be gentle with the surgery site. Avoid ‘swilling’ liquid over the area, and don’t touch or irritate the area. Don’t undertake any strenuous exercise for at least 48 hours.

The night after the surgery, clean your remaining teeth gently with a soft toothbrush, as normal. Avoid the surgery site, but after a few days you can gently begin to clean the area when you feel comfortable doing so. Your surgeon will likely advise you to use a warm salt mouthwash a number of times a day, and may prescribe a chlorhexidine mouthwash. Do not use anything other than your dentist has advised.

Try to keep food away from the surgery site, and only eat soft foods. Chewing can cause extra stress on the jawbone, which can cause bone rejection and implant failure.[1] So, avoid crunchy foods, chewy foods, as well as anything too hot or cold.

Do not smoke. This slows down the healing process and may cause implant rejection.

Pain should not be a big problem. Over the counter pain medication should manage any pain, and remember to take them regularly for the first two days after the surgery. Take the first dose before the local anaesthetic has worn off. You may have also been prescribed antibiotics, take these as instructed and finish the full course. An infection may result in failure of the implant.

There will likely be pain and swelling. You can use an icepack to the face, but if the swelling or pain continues more than 48 hours, contact your dentist.

[1] Seth S, Kalra P. Effect of dental implant parameters on stress distribution at bone-implant interface. Inter J Sci Res. 2013;2:121–124


After a few weeks

At this point, the surgical area should have healed enough for you to return to normal oral hygiene. The stitches will have dissolved, and you will not be in any pain or discomfort. However, the implant still needs a longer time to fully integrate with the jaw, so you must still be fastidious with your oral care. This includes gently brushing your teeth, and flossing. You also want to avoid eating hard or chewy foods for a couple more months.


Depending on how many implants you get and your tolerance to pain, you may want to plan a day or two off. However, many people return to work after their implant surgery and continue as normal. It is recommended that you don’t plan any major events for a few days after the surgery.

If you have any form of sedation, you will need someone to drive you home afterwards. There will also be extra after-care if you choose sedation.

Avoid hard, chewy, spicy foods and alcohol. Don’t eat things that have the potential to get stuck in teeth, such as popcorn and seeded fruit like strawberries. Also, avoid hot drinks such as tea and coffee. Instead, eat soft foods and drinks at room temperature.

Chew on the side of your mouth that still has teeth. Do not use a straw, as sucking may dislodge the blood clot and start bleeding again.

There will be less bleeding than there would be with a tooth extraction. This is because the implant fills the hole. To minimise bleeding in the hours following surgery, sit upright, maintain pressure on the supplied gauze, don’t talk or do anything to raise your heart rate and increase blood flow. Bleeding is normal for up to 24 hours.

Swelling is proportional to the surgery. Sometimes, there is hardly any. If the surgery was intensive, you can expect some swelling around the site of the treatment, and this may not show up until the day after the surgery. You can ice it gently, 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off for the 24 hours following surgery. If the swelling is bright red, hard to the touch, and hot, seek immediate assistance from your dentist.

Many people say the pain is less than a root canal or having a tooth removed. Because the whole process is so well planned with a view to quick healing, it probably won’t be as bad as you expect. Remember to take OTC painkillers as advised by your dentist—don’t want for the pain to start before starting painkillers.

Yes you can, but try to avoid it for a week to ten days post-surgery to allow the gums to heal. Always remove the denture at night. Discuss this with your dentist as your denture will require modification/relieving in order it not affect your newly placed implants and possibly cause failure.

If, after a few days, the pain is increasing or there is new swelling, contact your dentist or dental surgeon immediately. This is to ensure you don’t develop an infection.