A missing tooth can negatively affect one’s speech, health, and self-confidence. Fortunately, patients can restore their lost teeth in function and appearance through dental implants. An implant is fused within the jawbone, effectively replacing the root of a natural tooth. However, because the procedure is more involved than alternative tooth replacement options, it is beneficial for patients to understand what to expect throughout the process. Kansas City dentist John Goodman offers the following advice on preparing for your dental implant surgery.
One of the most integral steps in preparing for dental implants is assessing the health of your mouth and jawbone. Before even deciding if you are a good candidate for the procedure, your cosmetic dentist will want to evaluate your ability to support an implant. Keep in mind that the longer a tooth is missing, the more likely it is that the jawbone has degraded. As a result, some patients do not initially have enough bone to support dental implants.
If you have insufficient bone structure, your dentist may be able to perform a bone graft to bolster your jaw, which in turn will allow you to receive dental implants. A graft may come from your own bone, a donor, or from synthetic materials, depending on your dentist’s recommendations.
Abstain from Smoking
Patients who smoke will have an inherently greater chance of implant failure, but this risk can be dramatically reduced by abstaining from tobacco throughout the treatment process. Your dentist will likely advise you to stop smoking as early as possible - at least two weeks in advance - up through the first two weeks of recovery. However, any tobacco use during recovery may result in an inflammation of gum and bone tissue, called peri-implantitis, which keeps the implants from properly bonding.
Make Preparations for Recovery
Before undergoing surgery, arrange for someone to drive you home afterward. A general anesthetic may be used, leaving you groggy, but it’s a good idea to have someone assist with driving after any type of anesthesia. Before leaving, your dentist may prescribe a painkiller to address discomfort over the next few days, although some patients find over-the-counter painkillers adequate.
When you get home, plan to relax for the rest of the day and night. Any bleeding should be manageable by applying pressure with a gauze pad, and swelling can be reduced through the application of an ice pack. Side-effects may last for up to a week following surgery, but patients are typically able to return to work, school, and other daily obligations the following day.
As you continue into your recovery, understand that the dental implant takes months to fuse with your jaw. Even if it feels strong and fully healed, do not put unnecessary stress on it until it has been crowned and your dentist is confident the procedure has completed.
Get Started with Your Implants
The first step in the implant process is determining your candidacy. Meet with Dr. Goodman to learn whether you qualify for implants or, if not, what treatment options are available. Call or email us to schedule an appointment and start restoring your smile.