Dental implants can literally give you a second opportunity to have "new" adult teeth that look, feel, and function just like the real thing, but getting them may take time. While the implants are well worth the process you go through, you don't want complications at any point in that process caused by neglect or error on your part. This is an investment worth protecting, and you should be vigilant about oral care from start to finish, when your new teeth are implanted. The following information will help to ensure you have no medical hiccups during the process and that all goes smoothly.
What Will The Dental Team Be Doing?
The five-step process of preparing your mouth for dental implants can be drawn out, depending on how quickly you heal, how much work has to be done at each step, and how fabulously you care for your mouth throughout the procedures. Generally, you will be ready for the actual implants once the following has taken place:
- The old or damaged teeth are removed.
- The jawbone is made ready for the implants with grafting, as needed.
- The posts (for the implants) are laid into the jaw bone.
- Abutments, or connectors, are secured to the posts.
All of this may take place over the course of several months, and time out is required between steps, during which your mouth will heal from the various procedures. Any issues arising at individual steps could mean more delays or even additional steps; thus, you want to go out of your way to take care of yourself and keep the ball rolling toward completion of the entire procedure.
What Should You Be Doing?
1. Treat your mouth gingerly at each point: Resist the urge to poke around, inspecting new pieces placed in your mouth, and keep the situation as free from (your) interference as much as possible. Other than thorough cleaning, you shouldn't do anything inside your mouth unless instructed to do so by your dentist.
2. Use ice for any swelling: Some swelling is normal following procedures, and this can be treated with an ice-pack. Alert your team to any swelling that's not expected or worse than predicted, as this could be an indication of infection.
3. Apply gauze for minor bleeding: At various points in the procedure, you can expect to see small amounts of blood in your saliva, and this can quickly be remedied by biting down on gauze; however, notice any more bleeding than that and you should contact your dentist.
4. Stick with the plan for pain: Your team may prescribe strong pain medication immediately following surgery, but other than that, you're most likely going to take over-the-counter remedies for any discomfort. Since there shouldn't be excess pain, if you feel any, contact the dentist's office right away, rather than taking extra medicine or going to any other extremes.
5. Work to avoid infection: You may be given an antibiotic as a preventative tool against infection, and taking it is crucial. The mouth is a very busy place in terms of bacterial activity, and it's all too easy to come into contact with material that can complicate wounds. Be proactive and precautionary.
6. Eat normally as soon as you're able: Immediately following any procedure, you may be limited to pudding and applesauce; however, it's important that you resume a normal diet once healing has taken place. This will keep your teeth and gums conditioned and allow for normal healing. Be sensible, though, throughout the dental implant process, by avoiding candy apples, hard candy, gum, or any other item that may push, pull, or otherwise brutalize the inside of your mouth. If ever in doubt, give a quick call to your dental team to be sure, rather than take on any unnecessary risk.
7. Drink room-temperature liquids: Particularly after any procedure, you'll want to avoid liquids of extreme temperatures. Even after healing has taken place, your mouth might become more sensitive to temps than it was prior to beginning the dental implant process, and that's okay, so long as you can comfortably adapt.
8. Don't be a daredevil: Even something as seemingly innocent as going to the gym could put the entire procedure in jeopardy, if you were to, for example, bump your jaw on a weight or other piece of equipment. Especially with more rigorous activity, be extra cautious. If your mouth starts to throb at any point, stop what you're doing. Also, keep in mind that you may not be eating a normal amount of food after visits to the dentist, so your energy levels won't be what you're accustomed to.
9. Be more obsessive with your oral care routine: It's easy for most people to take care of their front teeth, especially considering they're used in smiling, which everyone sees; however, now, more than ever, care of every tooth in your mouth is critical. You also need to work the gums and keep them clean as instructed by your dental team. The procedures may leave you a little vulnerable in terms of oral health so while all of this is going on, take extra care to keep your mouth clean, free from food debris and ready for the next step.
10. Smile! You're on your way to strong, permanent teeth that will look great and function just like "real" ones do. Conduct regular inspections of the areas being worked on, without prodding and count the days until you can crunch, munch, and open wide with a full set of near-perfect pearly whites.
Take extra steps to keep your mouth in great condition and take extra TLC with the entire dental implant process. Although it may feel long now, in no time at all you're going to be very glad you followed dentist's orders and took such tedious care of your teeth, because they're going to be better than they ever were. You can click here for more information on this topic.