An important part of making the dental implant surgery successful is to follow your dentist’s orders during the post-operative care. It is very important that you take your medications as prescribed, if taken properly these medications will greatly decrease the chances of post-operative complications. If antibiotics are prescribed, make sure you take them until they are ALL GONE.
Following surgery, you may be asked to bite firmly but GENTLY on a gauze pad to stop the bleeding. Change gauze every 20 minutes until bleeding stops. DO NOT CLENCH TOO TIGHT, JUST LIGHT PRESSURE. Do not chew on the gauze, rather keep a steady pressure. Your dentist will give you a package of gauze to take home with you. It is normal to have small amounts of blood in your saliva for the first few days following surgery. You’ll need to phone your dentist if heavy bleeding persists or increases. If bleeding cannot be controlled by biting on gauze and you cannot get ahold of your dentist, a moist tea bag can sometimes help.
You may experience some minor discomfort around the area that can (although rarely) last for several weeks. Over-the-counter Ibuprofen, such as Advil, should make the pain go away, and will also help reduce the swelling. For the first few days following surgery, your dentist may prescribe you a stronger painkiller such as Tylenol #3’s, which you should take as needed for pain in conjunction with Ibuprofen. Once the pain becomes more tolerable, stop taking the T3’s and use Ibuprofen alone as needed. Make your dentist aware if you are unable to take any of these medications.
As soon as possible an ice pack should be applied to the face over the surgical site for 20 minutes on then 20 minutes off, alternating for the first 6 hours following surgery. This is necessary to decrease swelling and discomfort. Place a towel between the ice and your skin. You can continue applying an ice pack for as long as two days following surgery. You need to phone your dentist if swelling becomes significant. Although rare, it is normal to experience some bruising adjacent to the area.
To minimize swelling and bleeding you may want to keep your head elevated for the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours after the surgery, including when you sleep. You must make sure you relax as much as possible and avoid all strenuous activities for as long as three days following the dental implants surgery. Getting your heart rate up can increase bleeding in the site, so please avoid. No smoking following surgery for at least 72 hours. Smoking delays healing greatly increases the chance of complications, so should be kept to a minimum for as long as possible.
You will likely have stitches placed. Try not to play with the stitches as torn sutures can lead to implant failure. You will need to return to have the stitches removed in 10-14 days, unless told otherwise. You are advised to drink at least eight glasses of water or fruit juice for 2-3 days following surgery. Try to limit your diet to soft foods such as yogurt or soup during the first week of surgery. The worst thing you can do is chew on the surgery site, this can lead to ripped sutures or unwanted forces being placed on the new implant. Also, avoid very hot liquids/soups as this can dissolve blood clots which are needed for proper healing. Avoid drinking through a straw which can disrupt blood clots.
Be gentle brushing and flossing the area; you don’t want to disrupt the healing process. Keep your teeth clean but do not brush/floss directly over the surgical site for at least a week. Do not use your regular alcohol-based mouth rinse such as Listerine/Scope for at least a week, as these are not ideal for the healing area.
Starting 24 hours after surgery, you will be asked to gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water solution – one teaspoon of salt in one cup of water – about three to four times a day to further disinfect the area. Rinse for 20-30 seconds. You must make sure you spit carefully to avoid any complications. Do not rinse vigorously for the first 3 days.
If you have any problems or questions, make sure you call our office at (250) 558-4222 right away. Dr. Bicknell can be reached 24 hours a day, his after-hours phone number can be found on the answering machine.