After surgery, it is imperative that you take proper care of your dental implants. If your implants are not properly cared for it may lead to infection and dental implant failure. Your dentist will advise you on the exact post-operative care routine that he or she prefers. The following are the most common recommendations.

Use prescribed antibiotics

To reduce the risk of infection, your dentist may prescribe you a series of antibiotics. Even if you believe you are infection-free and past the point where infection may be a risk, you must complete the entire course of antibiotics. Failure to take all of the medication may result in a flair-up of an antibiotic-resistant strain of the infection. Infections can also move into the heart and become life-threatening if antibiotic treatments are not followed exactly.

Use a prescribed mouthwash

All mouthwashes are not created equal. The mouthwash your dentist prescribes is designed to rid your mouth of harmful bacteria that could promote infection and implant failure. Use the mouthwash as recommended by your dentist and don’t substitute other mouthwashes without consulting him or her first. If you believe you are having a bad reaction to the prescribed mouthwash, contact your dentist immediately.

Avoid smoking

Since nicotine causes blood vessel to tighten, restricting blood flow and reducing circulation, it interferes with your body’s immune system and makes healing more difficult after any major surgery. It increases the acidity inside your mouth, providing a place for bacteria to thrive; and, it can also contaminate your wounds with tar, making it even more difficult for them to heal. Smoking can also stain and discolor your new teeth. For all of these reasons, it is important that you avoid smoking after implant surgery.

Prevent swelling

Some swelling is to be expected after surgery, but too much swelling can damage tissue and cause implant failure. Take care to reduce swelling as much as possible. Use ice packs on the affected area. Wrap the ice pack in a cloth to prevent the cold pack from damaging your skin. Most dentists recommend 30-minutes-on/30-minutes-off when treating with ice, but your dentist will provide you with his or her exact recommendations.

You can also reduce swelling by keeping your head elevated. This should be easy during the day, but may be difficult when you are sleeping. Try propping your head up on a pillow or use a wedge under your mattress. You want your head elevated enough so that it is above your heart.

Brush and floss

After surgery, brush and floss your new teeth just like normal. Use a soft toothbrush to avoid scratching the surface of the implant or your gums. Take care to get the backs of your teeth and between teeth. Brush your gums, tongue and palate to get all of the germs that may threaten your oral health.

Follow up with your dentist

In the months following your surgery, your dentist needs to see you in his or her office several times. Once your implants have healed, you can return to a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule. Visit your dentist every six months, just as you would normally.

Your dentist may have other recommendations. Be sure to follow his or her instructions exactly. Failure to do so could result in painful and costly implant failure. If you care for your implants properly, they could last a lifetime.

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