Missing, broken, or decaying teeth can impact your quality of life. It affects your smiling confidence, ability to chew food, and general oral health. Luckily dental implant surgery can help with this problem.
Dental implant surgery involves artificial teeth being implanted into the jawbone. Metal screws replace the teeth’ roots and attach to artificial teeth that look and function like regular teeth.
The dental surgeon uses general or local anesthesia or opts for IV sedation. Then, they will cut the gum and drill holes deep into the bone for the dental post, which acts as the artificial tooth’s root.
The bone around the screw needs time to grow into and around the post, which can take several months. However, once it’s healed, it provides a strong, solid base for your artificial tooth.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait for the bone to heal before inserting the artificial tooth. But, in the meantime, you can get a temporary tooth in its place. Just ask your oral surgeon about it.
Of course, like any surgery, you might have a few questions. Continue reading to get the answers to the commonly asked ones.
How Long After Dental Implants Can I Eat Normally?
Your teeth are responsible for the mechanical breakdown of food. Unfortunately, you can’t chew normally after dental implant surgery. Otherwise, it might damage the implant while it heals.
Usually, people can resume their regular eating habits within a week of dental implant surgery. Allowing a week of soft foods prevents suture bleeds and strain on the gums while ensuring proper gum healing.
What to Expect During the First Few Hours After My Dental Implant Surgery
Knowing what to expect after getting your dental implant is essential. It allows you to do everything possible to speed the healing process and get your million-dollar smile back.
In the first few hours after dental implant surgery, you can expect the following:
- Feeling groggy immediately after the procedure, depending on the type of anesthesia.
- Numbness of the gums and surrounding area.
- Light swelling and bleeding at the surgical site.
- Some discomfort as the local anesthesia starts wearing off.
You mustn’t poke around the surgical site, pull your lip to look at it, or fiddle it with your tongue during this time. If you do, it might cause unnecessary damage to the site and impede your healing time.
What Types of Food Should I Eat the First and Second Day?
Your teeth mash food, so your stomach can tolerate it, which puts strain on your gums. After surgically getting dental implants, you must eat suitable foods to avoid damage to the surgical site.
A soft food diet is recommended for the first and second days after dental implant surgery. Eating soft or liquid foods will ensure you don’t place unnecessary strain on the surgical site and allow proper healing.
During this time, you can eat foods like:
- Soups that are smooth and don’t contain chunky bits,
- Broths and bouillon,
- Meal replacement drinks,
- Protein shakes,
- Nutritious smoothies
- Yogurt or applesauce,
- Mashed potatoes, and
Remember that your gums might be sensitive to heat and cold, making it difficult to eat foods like ice cream or hot soups. It all depends from person to person, though, so see what works for you. You should be good to go as long as it’s soft foods you can tolerate.
You might also find this interesting: What are all-on-4 dental implants and is for me?
What Can I Eat After the First Few Days?
After the first few days of soft and liquid foods, you should be ready to move on to foods with more sustenance.
After the first few days of dental implant surgery, you can include easily chewable foods into your diet, like:
- Soft bread,
- macaroni and cheese,
- cooked vegetables,
- potatoes, and
- soft meats like chicken, fish, and ground beef.
The idea here is to incorporate chewable foods into your diet slowly. That way, you don’t place too much strain on your sutures, allowing the healing to continue without interruption. If you eat something that causes discomfort, put it off for a few more days before you try again.
Are There Any Foods I Need to Avoid and Why?
When you chew on food, bits and pieces rub against your teeth and gums. Usually, it isn’t a problem, but it might be right after dental implants.
To avoid foods damaging the surgical site, tearing the sutures open, or causing discomfort, avoid the following foods:
- Hard, crunchy, and tough-to-chew foods require more bite strength to chew these foods. Because the numbing agent doesn’t wear off for a few days, you can bite your inner cheeks or tongue, causing injury. These foods can also damage or tear open the sutures and include popcorn, crackers, nuts, and crisps, to name a few.
- Sticky foods require more chewing than other foods, which can be tough on your sutures. They can also get stuck on the dental implant, causing a risk of infection. These include foods like toffee, gum, and caramel.
- Acidic foods irritate gums, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. While healing from your surgery, you want the surgical site to be free of opportunistic bacteria to promote speedy healing. Avoiding foods like citrus fruits, soft drinks, cheese, bread, and fried foods is best.
- Hot or cold foods can irritate the surgical site, especially if you have a higher sensitivity. When the site is irritated, it allows bacteria to grow or an injury to occur. To prevent this, try having food and drinks at room temperature for a few days.
Are There Any Physical Activities I Should Not Do?
If you love being active, you’d probably want to return to physical exercise as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that might not be the best idea after you’ve had dental implants inserted.
Strenuous activity, like weight lifting or jogging, can damage the surgical site after dental implant surgery. Exercise increases blood flow throughout the body. When you’re recovering from dental surgery, it can cause throbbing, swelling, and even bleeding at the surgical site.
Lifting heavy weights can be especially dangerous because people tend to clench and unclench their jaws when they lift. It places more stress on the sutures and implant, risking the sutures to rip and cause unbearable pain. At the same time, jogging or jumping can worsen throbbing in the mouth, having the same effects as lifting weights.
Everyone reacts differently to dental surgery. Some can get back to exercising quicker than others. So, ask your dentist or dental surgeon if you’re unsure when to get back into your physical routine.
What kinds of questions should I ask my dental surgeon?
Getting dental implants might not be a big procedure, but there are things you should know before you get them. The most important thing is to ask your dental surgeon crucial questions to validate their abilities and know what to expect from the surgery.
Ask your dental surgeon the following questions about their abilities:
- What training did you have in this field, particularly dental implants?
- How many dental implants have you done, and how much experience do you have with this procedure?
- What are your success and complication rates, and how do you manage complications?
- How do you assess patient suitability for dental implant surgery?
Anyone would want a capable person cutting into their gums. So, knowing the answer to these questions will give you a good feel for your surgeon’s capabilities.
Ask your dental surgeon the following questions about the surgery:
- What will the total procedure cost?
- Will the new teeth match my existing teeth?
- What should I do to prepare for the surgery?
- What can I expect from the surgery?
- What anesthesia will you use?
- How long will the surgery take?
Knowing the answers to these questions is essential to prepare yourself for the surgery. That way, you know exactly what to do to let the procedure go off without a hitch.
Ask your dental surgeon the following questions about your recovery:
- What can I expect immediately after dental surgery?
- What oral care must I apply at each stage of the recovery process?
- How can I ensure quick and proper healing of the surgical site?
- What foods can I eat at each step of the recovery process?
- When can I start exercising again?
- Will there be a need for additional surgery?
Everyone is different, and even though you’ve researched the answers to these questions, they may differ for you. That’s why it’s best to ask your surgeon these questions to get tailored answers to your needs. Knowledge is power. The more you know about your surgeon, the procedure, and the recovery process, the better prepared you are.
The Bottom Line
Dental implant surgery can be scary, but knowing what to expect can ease some of the tension and anxiety you might feel.
Your teeth are your primary source of the mechanical breakdown of foods. Knowing what you can and can’t eat will ensure quick healing. To make it easier, consider making a list of the foods to avoid, those you are allowed to eat, and when.
Although exercise doesn’t directly impact your surgery site, it can impede healing. Strenuous activity like lifting weights and jogging isn’t the best idea within the first week after your surgery. Ensure to ask your surgeon when you can continue your exercise regimen.
Finally, for a dental implant surgery to be successful, you need a capable surgeon that knows what they’re doing. Please don’t be shy to ask them a few questions to set your mind at ease and prepare for the procedure you’re about to face.