There’s no getting away from the fact that dental implants are the gold standard of missing tooth replacement and have been for many years. They are in fact the closest thing to a natural tooth that we can produce at this time, and when cared for properly, can last for many years. However, in order to better ensure longevity, the correct protocols need to be followed and one of those is to allow the appropriate recovery time.
Before we go on, however, it’s important to clear something up…
When we talk about a specific ‘recovery time’ for dental implants, we are really talking about two separate factors. Firstly, there’s the time taken for any dental implants to fuse with the bone tissue once attached to your jaw. Technically known as osseointegration, this is a process that takes place after surgery over a period of 3-6 months. The idea is that surrounding bone tissue at the implant site fuses with the titanium implant over time and this process allows for a solid foundation upon which to attach a permanent restoration. This could be a single crown, a bridging tooth or (in conjunction with other implants) a whole arch of dentures.
Typically, dental implant patients can expect to be back to normal once all the symptoms of surgery reside.
This is usually within 5-7 days. However, some patients experience a longer (or shorter) recovery time, based on a number of factors including
- The number of dental implants placed and the complexity of the surgery
- Whether any further surgery was needed such as bone grafts or sinus lifting and
- The type of surgery – digital dental implants vs conventional implants.
So let’s go into each one of these in more detail…
The number of dental implants placed
Some patients will undergo a single implant with no complications. With this in mind, it isn’t unheard of for a patient to return to work the very next day. On the flip side, another patient may undergo multiple tooth replacements involving complex surgery. In this instance, it can take two or more weeks for a patient to recover sufficiently and feel back to normal. As a rule of thumb, the more dental implants you have, the longer the recovery period.
Additional surgical processes
Sometimes, patients need extra surgery prior to an implant being placed such as a bone graft or a sinus lifting. These procedures may be required to ensure that the implant stands the best chance of survival. In either case, it can take several weeks/months for the area to fully heal before any implant-based restorations are placed.
Digital dental implants vs conventional implant surgery
Digital dental implants surgery is a cutting-edge technique that allows dentists to plan and execute an implant-based restoration down to the finest detail, virtually, before the patient is needed in surgery. Because major factors like implant depth and trajectory are already calculated, it allows the dentist to perform a technique known as flapless surgery.
With conventional dental implants surgery, the gum is opened up uncovering the jaw bone beneath. The implant is anchored into position and the gum is then stitched back over the implant.
With digital flapless surgery, however, a small pinhole is drilled through the gum into the bone into which the implant can be directly placed. The result is minimal surgery time (in some cases just 10-20 minutes) no sutures, little or no bleeding and ultimately, a speedier recovery.
So now you have a rough idea what tooth implant recovery period you can expect, let’s take a closer look at what to expect immediately after and the days following dental implants surgery.
On the first day…
For the first 30 minutes right after surgery, you’ll be fitted with gauze packs. You need to apply gentle pressure to the area to halt any bleeding. If it persists after this time, reapply gauze packs every 30-45 minutes until any bleeding stops.
You can gently brush your teeth but avoid the implant site for the first 24 hours and take pain killers and apply ice as instructed by your implant dentist. If you feel like eating, stick to lukewarm soups, yoghurts, pureed potato or vegetables and milkshakes. A word of warning – Avoid drinking through a straw as the sucking action can cause further problems to any newly placed dental implants. Finally, get plenty of rest.
During the first week
While you can afford to be a little more mobile, continue salt rinsing and gently brushing your teeth. Also, carry on applying ice packs as instructed to bring out any swelling. Diet-wise, continue with a soft food diet, particularly in the first 3-7 days, choosing foods high in nutrients like soft flaky fish, spinach and avocado to aid recovery, Also drink plenty of water.
One to two weeks
After 1-2 weeks any bruising, swelling or discomfort should be all but gone. Continue to practice good oral hygiene and start to introduce other foods as you see fit. Although avoid hard or chewy foods for the time being at least. Everything else should be okay. By now you should be feeling better about your dental implants and be ready to return to work (if you haven’t already done so).
So there you have it, everything you need to know about tooth implant recovery time. Here at DDSS/DDII, we use the latest cutting-edge digital implant surgery to ensure that any recovery time you experience will be speedy. To find out more call (02) 8294 8656