If you have had teeth extracted and are now having dental implants placed, it's important that you do what you can to reduce your risk of infection. While the incidence of infection after dental implants is quite low, if you were to develop an infection, it could lead to the loss of the implant. Your dentist will talk to you about your personal risk factors. In the meantime, here are some tips for staying infection-free during and after your healing process.
Boost Your Immune System
A healthy immune system will make getting an infection much less likely. You might think that skipping your daily walk or neglecting to eat enough fruits and vegetables won't affect your dental implant, but these lifestyle choices can actually have an impact. To keep your immune system functioning optimally, WebMD suggests getting enough sleep, watching what you eat, exercising regularly, relaxing alone or with friends, and keeping your sense of humor intact.
If you do not have a healthy immune system, talk to your doctor and your dentist about any health conditions that you might have. For example, if you have an autoimmune disease or diabetes, getting that problem under control before having your dental implants placed can boost your chance of success at avoiding an infection.
Don't Smoke During the Healing Process
Smokers are more likely to experience oral infections, and this risk goes up any time you have invasive dental work done. Your dentist will tell you to stop smoking several weeks in advance of your appointment. You also should not smoke for several weeks after having your implants placed. Because it's difficult to quit smoking, this will require a concerted effort on your part to improve your chances of getting through the process infection-free.
Talk to your physician about ways that you can quit smoking. In addition to avoiding an infection from dental implants, the rest of your body will thank you, too, as you'll be reducing your risks of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Take Your Prescriptions as Directed
Once you have your implants in, you'll probably get a prescription for preventative antibiotics. You might also receive a prescription-strength mouthwash to use each day. Do not neglect to use these medications as directed, as they will greatly reduce your chances of developing an infection. Take the entire course of antibiotics even if you have no signs of infection; taking only half of the prescription can cause resistant bacteria to take hold. Use the mouthwash until your dentist tells you to stop, as it works by removing excess bacteria from your mouth.
If you are prone to developing infections, you might get an antibiotic to start before your appointment, too. If you forget to premedicate for the required number of days, let your dentist know as soon as possible, as you might need to reschedule your appointment for a later date to accommodate the premedication regimen.
Watch the Surgical Site Carefully
Most of the time, healing will progress without incident. If you have symptoms of an infection, however, it's important to get in to see the dentist as soon as possible. These symptoms include pain that gets worse instead of better, swelling after the second or third day after having the implant placed, fever, swollen lymph nodes in your neck, and a foul taste in your mouth. Even if these occur on a weekend, you should call the dentist on call to let them know that you have had recent dental implant surgery and are now having troubling symptoms.
In most cases, dental implant surgery goes off without a hitch, and you will be left with beautiful new teeth. A few lifestyle changes can make it more likely that you will heal without any issues at all. If you do have a problem, calling your dentist as soon as possible can allow you to save your implants and enjoy quick healing.