Dental implants are a very successful tooth replacement option. Perhaps 98% of dental implants are initially successful, and they can last a lifetime when properly cared for. Nonetheless, people often worry that their implants may fail, which makes them concerned about the healing process. 

The information we’re providing here is of a general nature for people considering dental implants or wanting a general refresher on the healing process. If you received implants from a Sydney implant dentist at My Hills Dentist, please check the materials we gave you at the surgery or contact us directly with questions. 

senior man smiling with teeth

Immediate Post-Surgical Stage: 0-24 Hours After Surgery

Immediately after surgery, you will likely feel no discomfort since anesthesia continues to numb the surgical site. There are three different conditions of the surgical site at this point, depending on the decision your Sydney implant dentist made at the time of surgery. You might have:

  • Gums stitched closed
  • A healing cap
  • Full restoration, such as a dental crown, bridge, or denture

If the surgical site doesn’t have a restoration, your dentist likely placed gauze there to help stop bleeding. Continue to apply pressure to the gauze to stop bleeding. As necessary, change the gauze gently. 

With a healing cap or full restoration, the configuration of gauze will depend on the geometry of the site and the extent of bleeding. Follow the specific postoperative instructions your Sydney implant dentist gave you. 

As your local anesthesia wears off, you will begin to feel discomfort. Your dentist will tell you when to expect this and when to start taking pain medication to head it off. If your dentist prescribed pain medication, take it as directed. If not, you can take over-the-counter pain medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen have the advantage of reducing swelling. There is some concern that these medications may impact bone healing, but most studies indicate the effect isn’t clinically significant. However, if you have other risk factors for failure to integrate (osteoporosis, previous smoking, etc.), it might be best to avoid NSAIDs.

Eat only soft, mild foods. Don’t use a straw. Don’t smoke or drink alcohol. The night after your surgery, don’t brush your teeth, rinse, or spit. It’s best to avoid strenuous exercise–take the rest of the day off if you can. Apply an ice pack as necessary to combat swelling and discomfort. Keep your head elevated.

Short-Term Recovery: 1-3 Days After Surgery

During this time, you’ll notice that discomfort and swelling continue to increase. For most people, you can still work and engage in other activities. However, remember to continue taking it easy. Don’t engage in strenuous activities such as exercise or hard physical work. 

Continue eating soft, mild foods and avoiding alcohol and smoking. If your Sydney implant dentist prescribed pain medication, continue taking it as directed. Otherwise, you can continue using OTC medications, but don’t exceed label dosages unless instructed. 

Brush your teeth twice a day, avoiding the surgical site. Rinse the surgical site gently. Don’t use a water flosser. 

Mid-Term Recovery: 3-7 Days After Surgery

Discomfort should decrease at this point. There should be no bleeding. Contact your Sydney implant dentist if you still have significant bleeding or if the pain starts to increase spontaneously at this point. It’s normal for the site to remain a little tender if touched.

Increase physical activity levels gradually. By the end of this period, you can be back up to normal. 

Begin transitioning to firmer food, such as well-cooked pasta and rice. You can add spicy food and alcohol back into your diet. Still, avoid smoking. Ensure you’re eating a nutritious diet that encourages implant healing

Brush your teeth at least twice daily, including at the surgical site. Continue using care around the surgical site. Don’t floss there yet, including a water flosser. 

Full Soft Tissue Recovery: 7-14 Days After Surgery

By 14 days after surgery, your gums should be essentially fully healed. They should look a normal, healthy color and should cause no spontaneous pain, though they might be a little tender to touch at the surgical site. 

You can enjoy all foods, but for now, eat hard, tough, and crunchy foods on the other side of your mouth, if possible. If you have a full mouth restoration, you might wait a little longer to get to the hardest-to-chew foods. 

You can brush and floss your teeth normally now but still avoid smoking.

Bone Recovery Transition: 2-4 Weeks After Surgery

Although your dental implant may look fully healed at two weeks, the bone around the implant is still recovering. In fact, this is potentially a precarious time for dental implants if you received a temporary restoration (dental crown, bridge, or denture). 

Initially, dental implants hold in place what your Sydney implant dentist will measure as primary stability. This is mostly provided by friction and pressure between the implant screws and your bone, the same as a screw in wood. Over time, your body removes pressured bone and builds new bone that attaches to the implant. This creates secondary implant stability, which can be essentially permanent. 

However, the primary stability initially decreases faster than the secondary stability grows, so most dental implants will see a stability dip around the 2-3 week mark after surgery. Typically, the implants remain stable enough that there’s no concern, but it’s worth keeping in mind as you transition back to regular activity. Chew on the other side when eating tough foods. Wear a mouthguard if you’re playing sports. Never use your teeth as bottle-openers or pliers, especially not your implants at this time. 

A few days of patience can help you enjoy decades of function with your dental implants. 

By four weeks after surgery, your implant should be as strong or stronger than it was when your Sydney implant dentist placed it.

Remember to avoid smoking if possible until you achieve full bone recovery, though it’s best if you quit altogether. 

Full Bone Recovery: 4-6 Months After Surgery

Although implants get stronger by four weeks after surgery, it takes time for the bones to fully heal and transition to stable, mature bone around the implant. By four to six months after surgery, the process should be complete, and you’re ready to transition to a final restoration. If you have a temporary restoration or healing cap, the process is essentially immediate, with no additional surgery or recovery. 

If your Sydney implant dentist covered your implant with gum tissue, you will need a new surgery to expose the implant and place a healing cap. After two weeks, your gums will heal again, and you can get a permanent restoration. 

Learn More about Dental Implants in Sydney

If you are considering dental implants in Sydney, it’s important to be fully informed about their benefits and drawbacks. Our implant dentists are happy to explain everything you need to know. 

Please call (02) 9686 7375 or use our online form to request an appointment at My Hills Dentist, serving the Sydney area from Baulkham Hills.