Dental implants are known for their strength, however many people don’t realize that dental implants are only strong if they heal properly. In fact, when dental implants don’t heal properly the entire implant can fail and will need to be removed. The reason why implants are so strong is the same reason why they can fail. It is all based around a process called osseointegration, where new bone grows around the implant to fuse it in place.
When this process occurs without disturbances, the implant will be fused in the proper position and will eventually be able to withstand the forces of chewing and biting. However, this process can take around 3-6 months to complete. During this time if the implant is disturbed, it may shift in position, become loose, or fail to fuse with the surrounding bone. All these things can cause the implant to fail.
It is important to note, however, that the vast majority of dental implant procedures are successful, especially when patients follow the post-operative guidelines provided by their implant dentist. Although your dentist will provide you with the appropriate information before your implant surgery, here are four things that you can expect to avoid while recovering from dental implant surgery:
Electric Toothbrushes & Waterflossers
While you definitely want to keep your mouth clean after surgery, electric toothbrushes and waterflossers can damage the surgical site, cause bleeding, and can even make your sutures fall out. Not to mention, using an electric toothbrush can be uncomfortable right after implant surgery. Instead, it is recommended to use a traditional toothbrush or dental implant cleaning brush to gently brush your teeth for the first few days following surgery. As you heal, your dentist will tell you when you can start using these things again.
You will also need to temporarily avoid mouthwash for about a month after implant surgery, unless your dentist prescribes a prescription mouthwash. Instead your dentist may recommend cleaning your mouth with a soothing saltwater rinse made up of 1 part salt and 3 parts water. As you rinse your mouth, you will need to gently move the water around and then let it drip out when you are through. It is highly important that you don’t rinse vigorously or spit because this can also cause damage to the surgical site.
Immediately after implant surgery, you will want to avoid eating spicy or acidic foods that can irritate the surgical site, as well as warm or hot foods that can cause bleeding. While you recover, you can expect to be on a temporary soft foods diet until your implant has healed. This means that you will need to avoid certain foods that can possibly damage the implant or cause it to fail. In most cases, this means avoiding foods that are hard, chewy, sticky, or that take more than a couple rounds of chewing. You will also need to avoid foods that fragment into sharp pieces because these can damage the surgical site.
These substances can negatively affect your recovery and should be temporarily avoided. The nicotine in cigarettes constricts blood vessels, which can lead to implant failure. For this reason, most dentists recommend to not smoke for two months following surgery. Alcohol has been found to slow blood vessel formation, which can slow down osseointegration. It should be avoided for a minimum of 72 hours after surgery, but it is recommended to avoid it for at least a week after. Caffeine should also be avoided for the first three weeks after surgery because it can cause excess bleeding and slows the healing process.
Dr. Sadati possesses extensive experience in all aspects of advanced restorative dentistry, with an emphasis in cosmetic and implant dentistry. He has attained Accredited Fellow status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most rigorous, demanding credentialing process in the world. He is the only AACD Accredited Fellow in South Florida.