Once you and your oral care provider have determined that a bone graft will be beneficial, you want to do everything you can to ensure that the procedure will go smoothly and that your dental implants will last for a lifetime.
In most cases, an oral care provider will advise the patient to stop smoking prior to undergoing the implant procedure. In some instances, the surgeon will not agree to do the procedure unless the patient quits smoking. This is rare, however, as they would much rather have the patient stop smoking prior to the procedure and to remain a non- smoker following the procedure. During the healing process, health and healing can be severely impeded by smoking, as smoking interferes with blood flow to the mouth. Anything that disrupts the healing process jeopardizes the implants and the bone graft itself. The heat from cigarette smoke can cause oral-burn syndrome, which can severely damage soft tissue and bone as it tries to heal. In fact, studies have shown that smokers are twice as likely to experience dental implant failure as nonsmokers. Smokers also experienced complications following graft/implant surgery 15% more frequently than nonsmokers. Infection following the procedure is also more common among smokers. This can result in the development of cavities and gaps that occur between the gums and the implants. These gaps can become swollen, irritated, and filled with infection and bacteria.
After your procedure, your dentist or oral surgeon will provide you with a detailed list of directions to help you heal properly. Simple things like making sure to only eat soft foods and not chewing on the implant area can make all the difference. If you should experience swelling, pain, or a small amount of bleeding, don't rinse your mouth out or spit. Place herbal tea bags soaked in cool water or clean, dry gauze in the mouth to stop the bleeding.
If you were given a prescription for antibiotics or pain medication, make sure you take them exactly as directed. During the first part of your recovery period, avoid exercise or other vigorous activities. Your doctor will tell you when it is safe to resume all of your regular activities.
Following your implant procedure, your surgeon will schedule follow-up appointments at one, three and six-month intervals for the first year. After that, you only need to be seen once a year. Your follow-up appointments will include X-rays to ensure that the fusion of the implants and jawbone is in good condition and that no infection or separation are present. If either has occurred the problem can be corrected before it becomes too serious.
Along with the scheduled visits to your oral surgeon, you will need to see your dentist twice a year for regular exams and professional cleanings. This will ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy and in good condition. In the event that periodontal disease occurs, your dental visit will reveal the problem and allow the dentist to treat it. This will keep your gums, your implants, and your natural teeth healthy.
Just like your natural teeth, your dental implants need regular care to remain healthy and strong. Although your implants are made of sturdy materials like porcelain, if they are not kept clean it can affect your natural teeth and gums. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste, brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day. Floss with a dental floss formulated specifically for crowns and implants or with a water flosser. Use an antibacterial mouthwash daily to kill germs and bacteria.
The surgical procedure to put your implants in place is only the first step in obtaining and maintaining a healthy mouth and an attractive smile. Proper continued care is necessary to keep them looking and feeling great for many decades to come.