Recovery time after dental implants

Dental implants are a major surgical procedure. Whilst post-operative pain is minimal and normal activities are usually resumed within a couple of days, the recovery process varies from patient to patient and depends on several factors:

  • How many implants were placed – the more implants, the longer your recovery.
  • Staging of implant placement – generally if a tooth is extracted and an immediate implant is placed, recovery will take slightly longer. If the tooth being replaced was extracted a couple of months prior to implant placement the implant generally integrates faster with the bone.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions some medical conditions such as diabetes and osteoporosis may delay healing.
  • Infection – if the tooth being replaced by an implant is infected at time of surgery, recovery will take longer
  • The amount of bone existing – if there is a good volume and quality of bone, recovery is faster. If there is bone loss, and grafting material  is required recovery can take longer.
  • Quality of the implant being placed 
  • Skill of the surgeon placing the implant.
  • Management of oral hygiene – this is a huge factor in the success of an implant. Regular brushing of the teeth and saltwater rinsing helps immensely.
  • Following diet guidelines – eating a soft diet initially, taking care not to bite down on hard foods such as nuts and chewy bread allows the implant to integrate well with the surrounding bone.
  • Smoking – delays the healing process.
  • Attending regular review appointments with your surgeon ensures your recovery is running smoothly.

Recovery time line

Day of your operation

If you’ve general anaesthetic or IV sedation you will require someone to assist you get home. If done under local anaesthetic, you can drive home yourself.

Once the anaesthetic wears off you will feel slight pain coming from the site of the implant. Normal painkillers are usually all you’ll need. An icepack can help reduce any swelling or pain.

Approximately 2 hrs after the implant placement you can commence a soft food diet. Ice cream, smoothies and soup are good.  Avoid hard foods and drinking from a straw. Take it easy for the rest of the day.

1-3 days after your operation

For a couple of days you will experience increased bruising and swelling. This is a normal part of the healing process and is assisted by hot and cold compresses. A soft food diet is to be continued. It is recommended to start gentle brushing of the implant site with a soft toothbrush.

3-7 days after your procedure

Facial swelling and bruising peak at around 3-4 days after your operation, from then onward it will begin to reside. On the 5th day after your surgery you should be feeling much better, pain killers required will be minimal. Your diet will still consist mainly of soft foods. With caution you can proceed to resume normal activities such as light exercise.

7-14 days after procedure

One week after the procedure you are feeling much better, pain killers are usually not required, swelling and bruising should be almost gone by the 2 week mark.  Normal diet can recommence, just be careful with hard and crunchy foods.

Beyond 14 days.

Following the above guidelines, you will heal comfortably and successfully.  The pain and discomfort will have subsided and you can resume normal activities and diet. In a couple of months the integration of your implant with the jawbone will be complete.

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