Restorative dentistry treatments can help repair damage and improve oral health. Dental implants, specifically, offer a permanent, natural feeling solution to replacing missing teeth. Dental implants feel so natural because they mimic how our teeth are naturally secured within the mouth. This means dental implant treatment requires surgery, and with surgery comes recovery. Windsor dentist Stephen D. Lipman offers this overview of what to expect during dental implant surgery recovery.
The Dental Implant Procedure
Dental implant surgery involves the placement within the jawbone of a small titanium post to which a dental restoration will eventually be placed. Though each step of dental implant treatment is done quickly, long periods of time are needed between each step to ensure proper bone healing and as a result, dental implant treatment can span several months.
Depending on the state of your jawbone, treatment may take more or less time. For those who are lacking enough jawbone to properly secure the implant, a bone graft will be needed and the graft will need to heal before the implant can be placed. Once the jawbone is determined to be sufficient, dental implant treatment can begin. During the procedure, a small incision is made within the gum through which the titanium implant is screwed into the jawbone. The jawbone is given time to heal and the dental restoration, typically a dental crown, will be placed to complete the treatment.
Dental Implant Recovery
For most, dental implant surgery causes about the same level of discomfort as a tooth extraction. Patients can expect sore, tender gums and jaw, which can generally be alleviated with doctor-approved over-the-counter pain medications. Hard, crunchy foods should be avoided during the initial recovery phase as they can cause complications during the healing process. As with all surgery, each recovery is unique to the patient, and if a bone graft is needed, recovery time will be increased. However, once the implant is placed, there are some common things to expect following dental implant surgery.
- Initial Recovery and Osseointegration: Once the dental implant is placed, the jawbone will begin the healing process. As the jawbone heals, it creates a permanent bond around the implant, a process called osseointegration. This process is important to the success of dental implant treatment as it's responsible for keeping the implant from falling out. Osseointegration is a slow process, requiring two to six months.
- Abutment Placement: The abutment is used to attach the dental restoration to the dental implant. Sometimes the abutment is placed at the same time as the implant but if it's not, it will be placed once osseointegration is complete. When the abutment is placed, a small incision is made in the gums to access the implant. Recovery time following abutment placement is about one to two weeks. During this time, the gums may feel sore from the incision but discomfort will lessen within the next few days. It is also important to again avoid hard, crunchy foods as these can cause pain at the incision site.
- Dental Restoration Placement: Once the gums have healed from abutment placement, the implant will be ready for the final step: restoration placement. Different types of dental restorations can be attached to implants to restore one or multiple teeth. Dental crowns can be paired with implants for individual tooth replacement or a full set of teeth can be replaced with implant-supported dentures. Patients may feel mild, short-lived gum soreness after restoration placement.