Dental implant aftercare instructions: Diet and dental hygiene
The dental implant procedure is oral surgery, and whether you receive local anesthetic or you elect to undergo sedation dentistry (oral or IV sedation) to cope with dental anxiety or other concerns, you’ll need to follow the post-operative instructions provided by your dentist. These procedures speed healing and ensure a successful implant.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants replace the roots of teeth as well as the crowns, which helps prolong the life of remaining natural teeth around them, and maintains jaw bone support. A single tooth implant consists of two parts: a post that sits in the jaw bone and a replacement false tooth that’s attached to the post. If the implants are replacing a row or set of teeth, the false teeth are anchored to several posts in the jaw. The dentist fits the posts in the jaw bone surgically, and when the bone has healed around the posts he attaches the replacement teeth. Sometimes, posts and teeth can be fitted in one visit.
Careful preparation for dental implant surgery increases the chances of a successful outcome. dentists offer some tips to help prepare for implant surgery:
- When scheduling surgery, tell your dentist if you take other medications, such as blood thinners. Your prescribing physician may need to alter your dose in preparation for the operation.
- Painkillers and antibiotics given prior to surgery can help to reduce your discomfort and risk of infection. Ask your dentist about medications you can take before surgery.
- If you’re nervous or stressed by the prospect of surgery, talk to your dentist. He may be able to offer intravenous sedation if it’s suitable in your case.
recommendations for implant care
Immediate Aftercare Tips
Of course, you’re also probably wondering how you should take care of your dental implants immediately following the procedure. After you get dental implants, you’re likely going to experience some pain in swelling over the next 24 hours. This is normal, and therefore shouldn’t alarm you.
Here are some things to do after your procedure:
- To control bleeding, bite on the sponges that were placed in your mouth
- For the first 8 to 12 hours post-surgery, avoid moving around excessively and keep your head elevated
- Hold an ice pack to your face in 15-minute intervals as needed
- For the first 24 hours, only consume soft foods and beverages
- Take prescribed medications as directed by your doctor
- For the first 24 hours, avoid rinsing your mouth
Also, remember that you shouldn’t drive yourself home after the procedure.
Electric toothbrushes have been shown to disrupt biofilm better than a manual brush due to the ability generate more brush strokes than the human hand. Regardless of the toothbrush of choice, patients should be advised to brush for a full two minutes with a soft bristle brush. End tuft brushes are also great for those hard-to-reach areas or for reaching around the sometimes bulky contours of implant crowns.
Water flossers have been shown to disrupt bacteria in pocket depths measuring up to 6 mm deep; however, this is a technique-sensitive approach to interproximal care. Patients need to be educated about proper techniques and should be advised to use water flossers on a low-pressure setting. Some other recommendations for interproximal cleaning include products that promote gingival stimulation such as soft picks, rubber tip stimulators, and proxabrushes with plastic wires. When recommending dental floss, be sure to select a type that does not shred or leave particles behind, as this may contribute to implantitis.
Dentifrice and over-the-counter mouthwash
As previously stated, the mechanical action that is achieved with a toothbrush and interproximal cleaners are ideal for the disruption of slimy biofilm, a fact that must be stressed to patients. For those patients that inquire about dentifrice and over the counter mouth rinses; it is appropriate to recommend a formula that is nonabrasive to the exposed implant parts and contains antimicrobial ingredients.
Protective appliances (night guards and/or retainers)
Occlusal guards, if recommended by a dentist, will decrease the occlusal load on dental implants during night time grinding or clenching. Retainers can also be fabricated for patients that have a dental implant proximal to natural teeth to prevent open contacts from developing. Natural teeth are dynamic due to the presence of the periodontal ligament as opposed to an implant that is ankylosed into the bone and will not move. Open contacts can lead to interproximal caries in natural teeth and peri-implant diseases.
Avoiding smoking is a good idea for your health in general. However, it’s particularly important that you avoid these substances when you have dental implants.
Remember, your dental implants take about 6 months to heal, so smoking during this time period can be particularly detrimental.
Schedule Regular Visits to the Dentist
Dental implants can help improve your smile. However, they’re not a cure for all dental hygiene issues. Depending on your overall oral health, you should plan to visit your dentist at least twice per year. With proper care and regular visits to the dentist, your dental implants can last a lifetime.
Plastic or metal “picks” seen over-the-counter that mimic professional instruments should be avoided. Metal instruments can scratch the implant surface, creating areas for bacteria to colonize, and plastic instruments have been shown to imbed residue into the implant surface. Patients should be cautioned to avoid the use of these “instruments,” as they are for professional use only.
Immediately After Dental Implant Surgery
24-48 Hours Post-Op: Cool Liquid Diet
Here are some general guidelines on what you can and cannot consume immediately following your dental implant procedure:
- For the first 24 to 48 hours, consume only cool liquids.
- Avoid hot foods and drinks for several hours after surgery.
- Do notdrink through a straw or use a water bottle that requires suctions for at least 2 weeks. If you’ve had a sinus exposure or bone grafting, this is extended to 1 month.
- Docomply with your “Week One” dietary guidelines that our care team provides. Following these precautions will give your mouth a better chance to heal properly.
For the first three months of dental implant healing, you’ll be on a soft diet. During this time your dental implants are integrating, and you’re wearing a temporary prosthesis that is not meant to be used to chew hard or crunchy foods. Not sure what a soft diet entails? No worries! Our care team will provide a list of food recommendations and be available to answer any questions you may have.
Week One After Surgery: “No-Chew” Diet
- Apple Sauce
- Avocados (mashed)
- Coffee and tea
- Cottage cheese
- Fruit ices and popsicles
- Fruit juices, including nectars and juices with pulp
- Liquid protein supplements like Boost, Ensure, Resource
- Smoothies (seedless)
- Soups (cream or broth)
Week Two: Soft “Fork-Tender” Diet
From 2 weeks post-op until dentists place your definitive bridge, it’s important for you to eat only foods that are soft and easy to chew. Avoid hard and chewy foods like raw fruit, sandwiches, pizza crusts, etc. Instead, start with foods that are still quite soft; anything that can be cut with the side of a fork is suitable for this part of your diet.
Fruits and Vegetables
- Soft fruits like bananas, mangos, peaches, and pears (avoid fruits with seeds, such as raspberries, strawberries, etc.)
- Apple sauce
- Steamed veggies
Meats and Other Protein Sources
- Broiled fish
- Roasted or chicken stew
- Soups with small soft pieces of vegetables and meat
Bread, Pasta, or Rice
- Soft loaves of bread
- Spaghetti, macaroni, rice pasta
- Cooked, refined cereals, such as cream of rice, oatmeal, grits, or farina (cream of wheat)
Other Soft Foods
- Items from Week One list
- Mashed potatoes
- Ice cream
- Cottage cheese
- Scrambled eggs
What Foods Should I Avoid Eating After Dental Implant Surgery?
Here are some foods you should avoid eating after your dental implant surgery:
- Chips and pretzels
- Crusty breads
- Corn on the cob
- Hard candy
- Pizza (crust)
- Raw apples and vegetables
- Sub sandwiches
- Steaming, hot foods
Nutrition After Dental Implant Surgery
It is important to remember to eat daily. Eating and drinking regularly will make you feel better and heal more quickly. It will also give you more energy and nourishment. One of the things patients lack most while on a soft food diet is protein; we recommend adding protein supplements to your diet. The first few days of eating may be a little uncomfortable so it’s important to follow your dietary restrictions and eat the recommended foods to ensure you’re not aggravating your healing process.
If you are a diabetic, maintain your eating habits and check your glucose frequently. This is key to infection prevention and avoiding diabetic-related complications.
After your dental implant procedure, you’ll be anxiously excited to start eating your favorite meals again. But it is so important to eat the proper foods during each healing stage. Your long-term dental implant success depends on it! Once your jaw has fully healed, you’ll receive your permanent prosthesis, also known as a ‘definitive,’ and you’ll be able to eat anything you’d like. Craving steak, corn on the cob, or apples? All these foods will be easy and enjoyable to consume with dental implants!
Preventing implant failure
When caring for dental implants, it is important to maintain healthy gum tissue and supporting bone. Due to the absence of natural tooth structures, it is impossible for the implant itself to decay or develop a cavity. However, the life expectancy or success of the dental implant can become jeopardized in the presence of inflammation or the periodontal infection known as implantitis. Implantitis is the destructive inflammatory process affecting the soft and hard tissues surrounding dental implants. During the inflammatory process, dental implants can become colonized by the same destructive bacteria that cause periodontal infections in natural teeth and, if left undisturbed, these bacteria can develop into calculus. Calculus is a rough hard deposit that can destroy the supporting gum and bone that surround the implant and lock it into the jaw. Once established, this deposit cannot be brushed or flossed off and can only be removed by a dental hygienist. This constant microbial challenge is threatening to the life of the implant and can ultimately cause a dental implant to fail.
The first step in the prevention of peri-implant diseases is to build an effective plaque removal routine and practice it two to three times a day at home. The mechanical action that is achieved with a toothbrush and interproximal cleaners is the most effective way to remove sticky plaque. However, depending on individual needs of the patient, you might suggest an over-the-counter therapeutic mouth rinse to kill bacteria in other parts of the oral cavity not accessible by hygiene aids. Encouraging patients to visit their dental hygienist for professional maintenance visit three to four times per year, depending on the prosthesis design and the patient’s abilities to perform adequate home care, is also of importance for not only the prevention of disease around your implant, but for the benefit of an overall healthy mouth!