Dental Surgery

Photo by rgerber, CC0 1.0

It’s normal to feel nervous when you’re going to the dentist, even when you’re just going in for a standard cleaning. So it makes sense that, when going in for something as significant as dental implant surgery, you want to be extra prepared. Below, I’ve compiled a few simple tips to help cut down on your worries and get you ready for your dental implant procedure.

  1. Do Your Research

First things first, if you are thinking about getting dental implants, you need to do your research so you know what to expect.  Unlike less invasive ways of replacing missing teeth, like bridgework or dentures, dental implants are artificial teeth that are attached to your jawbone using metal screws. Though they do require invasive surgery, the upside of dental implants is that they are more durable than the alternatives and less prone to slippage and other problems that can affect your speech or eating abilities.  Make sure you understand the details of the procedure and discuss it thoroughly with your dentist beforehand.

  1. Plan The Day Of

Preparing for the day of your surgery shouldn’t be too complicated, but you still don’t want to leave anything to the last minute. Obviously, you’ll need to take the day off from work or any other regularly scheduled activities. If you have a kid who needs to be picked up from school or a pet who needs to be walked, make sure someone else is available to do it for you instead. Most importantly, since you will be given some form of anesthesia to deal with the pain, you’ll also need to arrange for someone to drive you home from the appointment.

For coping with the pain after the anesthesia wares off, you’ll also want to have ice packs and over-the-counter pain killers on hand. The last thing you want to be doing after you’ve just had surgery is driving to the pharmacy to pick up some ibuprofen, so be sure you stock up in advance!

  1. Organize Your Recovery Time

Beyond preparing for the day of the surgery, you also need to plan ahead for the months of recovery time that comes afterward.  For the first few days after the surgery your jaw and teeth will likely be sore and very sensitive. Even with the help of pain medications, it’s likely that you won’t be up to doing many of your regular activities. Take at least a few days off from work to recover, and avoid doing any high-impact exercise or recreational activities for the first few days, too. Instead, take some time to relax and pamper yourself—after this kind of surgery, you’ve earned it!

  1. Prepare Soft Foods

Since your jaw and teeth will likely be sore and sensitive for at least the first couple of weeks after the surgery, make sure you have your kitchen stocked with appropriate foods that will be gentle on your teeth.

For the first day, you should limit yourself to clear liquids like soup, juice, or tea. By day two you might be able to upgrade to foods like yogurt, apple sauce, ice cream, or Jell-O. Finally, later in the week, you should be ready for softer solid foods like oatmeal, mashed potatoes, eggs, pasta, rice, and tofu.

Whatever you do, stay away from crunchy foods like chips or popcorn as well as chewy foods like steak and celery. You should also avoid eating or drinking things that are especially hot, cold, or spicy.

  1. Keep Up Your Regular Brushing and Flossing

Even though your teeth may be sensitive at first, it is crucial that you keep up with your regular dental care to keep from getting infections, cavities, and other problems.  In addition to saltwater rinses and mouth wash, you should keep brushing your teeth regularly. Consider replacing your old toothbrush with a new, sensitive one that your teeth will agree with.  Once you’ve already had to have surgery to replace some teeth, you’ll be especially motivated to follow your dentist’s recommendations about regular brushing and flossing to make sure you keep the other teeth in good shape!

Final Thoughts:

Getting dental implants is no small procedure, but you can certainly make the process easier by going into it well prepared. Do your research, prepare for some recovery time, and make sure you’ve got all of the soft food and painkillers you’ll need stocked up in advance of your appointment. If you do all of this, your surgery and recovery should go off without a hitch!

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