By David Hudnall, DMD
Tired of dentures that slip or require using messy adhesives to keep them in place? Do you miss being able to enjoy foods that you may not have been able to eat with traditional dentures? Denture implants can be a life-changing solution that allows dentures to function like natural teeth and replace missing teeth.
While surgical treatment can sound scary, the vast majority of those who have undergone denture implant placement report that it was well worth it and the best decision that they could have made. Let’s demystify the dental implant healing stages and discuss what you can expect during and after the dental implant process and placement procedure.
Patient Assessment for Dental Implant Surgery
Denture implant placement is a surgical procedure that requires advanced planning to ensure the best possible outcome. If you are considering having denture implants placed, the dentist will conduct a consultation and perform a detailed examination in order to plan your treatment. This appointment includes:
- Examination of the mouth
- Evaluation of any current dentures or needed tooth extraction
- Review of your medical history including any medications that you take
- Radiographs and/or CBCT scans of the jaws
- Impressions of your jawbone
- Discussion of the overall procedure, dental implant healing stages, scenarios for restoring implants, and the estimated price range for treatment
There are many good reasons for performing denture implant surgery, including improved denture stability, preservation of jawbone and gum tissue to properly support your face, improved appearance, improved ability to chew, and better comfort. There are also contraindications to implant placement that must be addressed in advance of treatment to improve the chances for a favorable surgical outcome.
Some of the items that must be taken into consideration include insufficient bone to support denture implants in their ideal location and the need for a separate bone grafting procedure before implant placement. Said bone graft would be separate from the later implant dentistry.
Chronic health issues like autoimmune diseases, uncontrolled diabetes, uncontrolled high blood pressure, nutritional deficiencies, poor oral health, and tobacco use must be managed in order for dental implant treatment to safely proceed. Smoking is a relative contraindication to implant placement because it is known to restrict blood flow to the tissues, slowing the healing process which can lead to implant failure and overall poor dental health.
Dentures supported by a successful dental implant allow you to eat, smile, and laugh with confidence. However, with any procedure comes inherent risks as the outcome of any dental procedure is never guaranteed. Clinicians depend on your body’s defense mechanisms for implant integration and a successful dental implant recovery time. The goal of these assessments in advance of dental implant surgery is to determine your ability to safely undergo implant procedure and accept the proposed treatment, improving your chances for the best possible result and implant healing process.
Dental Implant Surgery Process
Treatment sequences vary depending on individual patient needs. Once the dentist has arranged and scheduled your surgery, your implant placement appointment will proceed something like this:
- Final review of health history
- Monitor and record vital signs
- Local anesthetic is applied to numb the surgical area
- The gum tissue is opened to access the areas for treatment
- Create a pilot hole in the desired location
- Widen the pilot hole to accommodate the diameter of the implant post
- Screw the dental implant into place
- Repeat the process with any additional implants
- Place cover screws on each implant to prevent debris from falling into the central access channel
- Close gum tissue with sutures, covering the implants completely during integration
- A temporary denture or the patient’s existing denture is modified to be worn during the dental implant healing stages
Dental Implant Healing Stages: What to Expect After Dental Implant Surgery
Recovery from surgery is not necessarily a uniform process. Let’s talk about the dental implant healing stages that each patient will progress through toward the end goal of complete integration of dental implants.
Initial Recovery Phase
Initial dental implant healing stages begin with a recovery period that varies by individual patient. Factors that can influence the amount of time it takes to heal include the location and number of implants placed, whether other procedures such as extractions were performed as part of the surgery, your age, and your overall health.
Most patients experience mild discomfort, soreness, slight swelling, and occasional bruising the first few days after receiving treatment. These issues are usually managed with ice packs and medications that the surgeon will prescribe. Soft tissue healing typically occurs within the first few weeks of treatment.
A diet of soft foods, such as mashed or blended foods, and gentle brushing are advised for the first few days after surgery. For some patients, the stitches themselves can prove to be a source of discomfort or irritation that resolves only after they are removed.
The patient can expect to resume their normal diet and get back to a regular routine within 7 to 10 days after treatment. Further healing and improvement occur gradually with each passing day.
Additional dental implant healing stages occur until complete healing and implant integration with the jawbone has happened, usually four to six months post-surgery. Most patients don’t have any symptoms beyond the first two weeks after their dental implant placement procedure and are able to conduct their lives as usual.
Because your gum tissue undergoes changes during each dental implant healing stage, it may be necessary to return to the dental office for follow-up care that includes healing checks, denture adjustments, and temporary denture relines to improve comfort.
While dental implant placement enjoys a greater than 95% success rate and the surgery has become a relatively routine procedure, there are cases where the body does not respond to the treatment as predicted. It is possible for the implant site to fail or be rejected for no apparent reason at all.
Although implant failure can occur at any time during the life of the implant, the highest incidence of implant failure occurs within the first three or four months after the dental implant procedure. Patients should remain on alert and be aware of the warning signs that something is amiss.
Warning Signs that Something Is Wrong
Contact your implant surgeon right away if you experience unusual symptoms during any of the dental implant healing stages. Here are some important signs to observe that can indicate that something is wrong:
- Intense or worsening pain
- Ongoing soreness around an implant that doesn’t resolve within a few days
- Swelling that worsens with time
- Red, puffy, or inflamed gum tissue
- Visible metal or bone showing through the gum tissue
The longer you delay seeking care, the greater suffering you will experience. The symptoms of a failing implant don’t typically resolve on their own. Any implant that does not remain solid within the surrounding bone must be removed in order for symptoms to improve and to prevent further tissue destruction. If an implant fails, it is sometimes possible to perform bone grafting to restore the bone and place a new implant at a later time. Your surgeon will advise you on the best way to address implant failure.
Tips for Recovery After Dental Implants
For dental implant recovery to be as expedient as possible, we offer some general tips to help with the dental implant healing stages that occur immediately after placement.
- Follow the instructions provided by your surgeon
- Get plenty of rest
- Consume soft, nutritious foods
- Stay hydrated
- Use an ice pack wrapped in a cloth to minimize swelling during the first few hours after surgery
- The day after surgery begin warm salt water rinses 3 to 4 times daily to promote healing
- Use any prescribed mouth rinses
- Avoid smoking and the use of tobacco products
- Because clean surgical sites heal more quickly, practice good oral hygiene
- Attend follow-up appointments as scheduled
Implant Solutions to Improve Your Life
Denture implants may be the answer to boosting your health and improving your enjoyment of all that life has to offer. Implant overdentures and the all-on-4 procedure are just two options for denture implant treatment provided by the European Denture Center designed to increase self-confidence and change your life for the better.
Why settle for dentures that can slip at the most inopportune moment when denture implants offer so much more? Take advantage of our affordable denture implant pricing by scheduling your implant consultation today.