Congratulations! You’ve got brand new implants and your teeth look great! What about implant aftercare?
Although implants look great, they’re a little more high maintenance than your average set of teeth. While, unlike your teeth, your implant is not ‘alive’ but the gum and surrounding bone can get infected and lead to failure if your implant aftercare isn’t tip-top. Also implants do not have a shock absorbing system, so if you have a heavy bite the implant can become overloaded and this must be checked regularly by the dentist.
Immediately after your operation you will need to follow some steps. You can read our blog on healing after dental surgery to get the basics. More implant specific aftercare is as follows. The metal implant should be cleaned the same way you clean a tooth, however, avoid chewing until the tooth is placed on top of the implant. Ensure clean gauze is firmly placed over the site of the implants for an hour. When the gauze is too bloody, change it.
Implant aftercare: Bleeding.
Generally there is much less bleeding with implants than tooth extractions. This is because the implant fills the hole created in the bone. Meaning there is no open wound that needs to be filled with a blood clot.
Biting on gauze is still important for 6-10 hours after surgery. The pressure minimises bleeding under the gum around the implants. Some bleeding or redness in the saliva is normal for around 24 hours.
Biting on a gauze pad, placed directly on the bleeding wound, for 60 minutes, can control excessive bleeding. Repeat as needed every hour for 6-8 hours.
If bleeding continues, bite on a moistened tea bag for thirty minutes. Tannic acid in the tea bag helps form a blood clot by constricting blood vessels.
To minimise further bleeding, sit upright, stay calm, maintain constant pressure on the gauze (do not talk or chew) and minimise physical exercise
If bleeding persists even after these steps, contact your dentist for instruction.
Implant aftercare: Potential Infection.
Although it may be normal for swelling to occur, excessive swelling is a concern. If swelling or jaw stiffness has persisted for several days, there is no cause for alarm. Soft, puffy swelling that you can indent with your finger after oral surgery is very normal.
However, bright red, rock hard, hot swelling that does not indent with finger pressure that is getting bigger by the hour would suggest infection. This usually would develop around day 3-4 after surgery when you would expect swelling to be going down, not up.
Another sign of infection is temperature. A very slightly higher temperature is normal, this is a sign that your immune system is doing its job. A very high temperature several days after the surgery is a warning sign. If a high temperature or severe swelling occur, contact your dentist immediately.
Implant aftercare: Cleanliness
Once your implants are healed you should be delighted with the results. However, now you’ve got to take care of them. Cleaning implant-supported tooth replacements is just as important as cleaning natural teeth, as both depend on healthy surrounding tissues for support. Plaque collects on implant crowns just as it does on natural teeth, and must be removed on a daily basis at home. If it’s not removed it can cause infection. This particular infection can spread fast causing bone loss and the potential loss of your implant. Therefore it is important to stay on top of your dental hygiene.
Be sure to brush with a manual or electric toothbrush twice daily as normal. If you have a bridge, clean underneath it.
An end-tufted brush is good for those hard to reach areas.
An interdental brush helps in cleaning the sides of the implant-supported tooth, crown and abutment posts. Use the brush with a back-and-forth stroke, gently pressing it against the side of the implant-supported tooth or abutment posts. The brush should not be too small as this will decrease the cleaning effect, or too big as this will, cause discomfort when brushing.
In narrow areas, where the interdental brush is hard to use, floss is recommended. Clean the sides of your implant-supported tooth and abutment posts by passing floss (thick floss, Super floss) back and forth between the implant tooth and the neighboring teeth, or through the spaces next to the abutment posts.
Regular hygienist visits might be the right way forward. This will ensure that you’re always on the right track when it comes to your implant aftercare.
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