An estimated 3 million dental implants are placed each year in the United States. Dental implants are safe and effective tools for replacing missing or severely damaged teeth, and getting them can protect your oral health.
Dental implants have a high success rate and can last a lifetime as long as they're well-maintained. The most important thing is to stick to your dental implant aftercare plan to ensure that the implant site heals properly.
What are some common dental implant care mistakes that patients can make? We're here to tell you what they are and how to prevent them.
Learn more about what not to do (and what to do instead) after getting dental implants.
Deviating From Your Recommended Aftercare Plan
Taking good care of your dental implants can expedite the recovery process and prevent infection, excess bleeding, and more. When you receive your dental implants, your dentist will talk to you about the proper aftercare routine to follow in the coming weeks.
How you take care of your dental implants will change from week to week. By rushing the aftercare plan or neglecting it, altogether, you may find yourself facing unexpected or unwanted problems.
To ensure maximum success, make sure that you hang on to any aftercare pamphlets or paperwork that your dentist gives you. You can also write down the steps to take each day and keep it in a noticeable location, like taped to your bathroom mirror or fridge. If you have any questions about your aftercare plan, don't hesitate to call your dentist to get a refresher on the steps you should be taking.
If you're having trouble with any of your recommended aftercare steps, this is another good reason to call your dentist. For example, if a soft food diet is upsetting your digestive system or you're experiencing adverse effects from your medication, call your dentist. There's no need to suffer through recovery or attempt a trial and error process on your own.
Disturbing the Dental Implant Location
One of the more common issues that patients experience after getting dental implants is excessive bleeding. This tends to happen in response to a disturbance of the dental implant location.
In order for effective healing, your dental implant location needs to form a blood clot. Dislodging this blood clot will cause bleeding because it reopens the tissue that is trying to heal.
To keep the blood clot intact, do not touch or poke your dental implant or the surrounding area. Do your best to keep your fingers and tongue away from it. Refrain from using a straw and use mouthwash or saline solution gently, not rigorously.
That said, accidents can happen. If the blood clot becomes dislodged or you notice any excessive bleeding, give your dentist a call.
Not Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene
While dental implants are unlikely to decay, there are still many compelling reasons to maintain good oral hygiene. Not only does good oral hygiene protect your teeth and gums, but it removes plaque from the dental implant site.
When bacteria and food particles build up around the dental implant, it can lead to dental implant failure. Plaque can irritate the gums, cause infection, and reduce the effectiveness of medications.
After you get your dental implant, continue to brush, floss, and use mouthwash twice a day. As we mentioned already, make sure that you use mouthwash gently to avoid disturbing the blood clot. If your dentist gives you any implant cleaning tools, use them as advised.
Ask your dentist about the best oral hygiene products to use when your dental implant is healing. Some toothbrushes and types of toothpaste may be too harsh to use during recovery. You may also need to use a water pick to floss around the dental implant, rather than typical dental floss, which can leave behind residue or shed fibers.
Smoking Before Your Dental Implant Site Has Healed
The act of smoking can dislodge the blood clot that is forming at the dental implant site. Beyond that, cigarette smoke can do some serious damage to your dental implant and make it harder to get another one if the first one fails.
Cigarette smoke does damage to the tissue and jawbone surrounding the dental implant site. If the tissue and jawbone become too weak, they can't support the dental implant. Cigarette smoke can also prevent the implant from fusing properly to the jawbone.
Smoking during any kind of recovery can also slow the recovery process because it weakens the immune system. If you can, try to quit at least two weeks before your dental implant surgery. If this doesn't work, you're going to need to curb the urge to smoke for several weeks after getting your dental implant.
We understand that curbing the urge to smoke is difficult. Try different cessation techniques, such as using nicotine patches or nicotine lozenges. The longer you can put it off, the better your recovery process will go.
Neglecting Your Medication
Once you get your dental implants, your dentist will give you a few prescriptions to fill. Most of the time, you will require medication to prevent infection and medication to prevent an infection from setting in. If you don't take the full course of medication as prescribed or take doses that are lower or larger than recommended, you may disrupt or delay the recovery process.
When you pick up your medication, make sure that you know if you need to take it at a certain time of day. You should also ask the pharmacist if they recommend taking certain medications with or without food. If it helps, set alarms or leave reminders around the house so that you take all of your meds on time as prescribed.
As we mentioned earlier, you can always contact your dentist if your medication isn't agreeing with you. It is possible that alternatives are available that won't cause the same side effects.
Not Scheduling Regular Appointments
Your dental implant surgery does not mark the end of your dental journey. Once you get your implant installed, you will need to schedule a series of follow-up appointments. This allows your dentist to clean and assess your dental implant to make sure that it is healing properly.
You should also carry on with your twice-a-year visits to your dentist for cleanings. Dental cleanings are crucial because the tools and procedures dental hygienists use can remove plaque that your toothbrush and floss can't. Plaque removal keeps your gums healthy, which helps your dental implant and the rest of your teeth to remain intact.
Not Calling Your Dentist With Concerns
Dental implant failure is uncommon, but there are a number of signs that it may be happening. These signs can include:
- excessive bleeding that persists even after gauze and pressure is applied
- severe discomfort or pain that is new or sudden
- noticeable gum recession around the implant
- the ability to shift the implant or the feeling that it is loose
- swelling and other symptoms of an allergic reaction
Even if you have a scheduled appointment coming up, don't hesitate to call if you start to notice any of these signs or have other concerns. One study found that patients were often better able to notice dental implant-related problems than their dentists, especially when they knew what signs to look out for.
The faster these signs are assessed by your dentist and treated, the less likely it is that the dental implant will fail or cause lasting problems. Most dentists will provide emergency dentist appointments for cases just like these.
Eating Hard Foods Too Soon
As your dental implant heals, your ability to chew comfortably will be impaired. Plus, hard foods, including potato chips, pretzels, and even certain types of bread can disturb your dental implant location and dislodge the blood clot. As a result, you will need to stick to a diet of soft foods after implants that don't require much chewing.
Many patients will need to stay on this soft food diet for up to two weeks. Understandably, you might feel the urge to switch back to a more diverse array of foods earlier than the two-week mark. Many patients feel that a soft food diet is boring or doesn't keep them full.
The good news is that there are plenty of soft food recipes that provide plenty of nutrition and flavor. Change up your meals to ensure that you don't grow bored and succumb to the urge to eat hard foods too soon.
Not Drinking Enough Water
It's always important to drink plenty of water every day. For women, that's about 11.5 cups a day and for men, that's about 15.5 cups a day. Not drinking enough water after getting dental implants can result in a dry mouth, which may increase your likelihood of complications.
When you're recovering from surgery, hydration is key. This is especially important when you're recovering from an oral surgery because drinking water throughout the day helps to promote saliva production. Believe it or not, saliva has the power to fight off bacteria and neutralize acids, which will keep your dental implant safe and clean.
Make sure that you keep sipping water, but remember to avoid using a straw. Grab a glass or a screw-top water bottle and start hydrating.
Playing Impact Sports
You might be dying to get back out on the field or into the ring, but you're going to want to hold off. Any trauma to the face in the first six months after getting your dental implant can hinder a full recovery.
Different athletes have different ideas of what counts as an impact sport. As far as we're concerned, if the risk is moderate to high that you could get hit in the face or jaw, that's an impact sport. This includes everything from boxing to basketball to football.
You can still stay active while you navigate your dental implant care routine. While we urge you to rest for the first two to three days, you can resume any cardio you normally enjoy. Jogging, walking, cycling, and swimming are all perfectly suitable physical activities to engage in while you recover.
Not Asking About Financing Options
An important part of taking care of your oral hygiene and dental health is ensuring that you can access the care you need. If you aren't sure how to pay for dental implants or your dental insurance isn't covering as much as you expected, make sure to ask about financing options.
Many dentists will provide zero interest financing plans that allow you to pay off your dental implant bill a month at a time. At Montclair Dental Spa, we even offer low monthly payments and allow you to pay off the cost of dental implants over the course of nine years.
Don't go into unexpected debt or take out high-interest loans to get the dental care you need. Find out about financing options so that you can protect your dental health and your bank account.
Avoid These Dental Implant Care Mistakes for Success
Dental implants are becoming a more common procedure that can treat missing or damaged teeth. The success rate is remarkably high, but some of that depends on what you do when the dental implant procedure is complete. Use this guide to avoid common dental implant care mistakes and create the ideal recovery conditions for your dental implant.
Do you believe that you could benefit from dental implants? Are you looking for other holistic dentistry procedures to improve your smile and your oral health? Montclair Dental Spa is proud to serve the patients of Montclair, New Jersey.
Contact us today to set up your consultation. We'll get back to you as soon as possible.