Patient Instructions: After Dental Implant Surgery

Dental implant surgery is a major oral surgery that will take time to heal. It is essential to follow the post-surgery instructions your surgeon provides so that you heal well and avoid any post-op complications. Knowing what to expect is essential to your speedy recovery. 

It’s common to experience some discomfort after dental implant surgery for three to five days. You may also have some numbness or tingling in your lips, gums, chin, or teeth. These symptoms are usually temporary. 

Here are some other aspects of post-operative care you may want to consider.


Some amount of swelling after dental implant surgery is normal, it is the natural response of the body to surgery. You may notice some bruising in the area as well. Swelling can last for a few days or up to two weeks after the surgical procedure. The swelling is not usually noticeable until around 24 hours after surgery and may continue to increase up to 2-3 days after surgery. After that, the swelling should decrease slowly but may be present for up to 10 days.

  • Put ice packs on the outside of your face 20 minutes at a time, and then remove for 20 minutes. Continue this for the first 48 hours after the surgery. (Do not put the ice pack directly on your skin, wrap it in a thin towel to protect your skin).
  • After 72 hours, you may start using a warm, moist compress on your cheek.
  • Keep your head elevated for the first 3 days and limit speaking and chewing.


You may have some minor bleeding after the procedure and this is normal. To help control the bleeding, bite on a gauze pad placed directly with pressure over the surgical area for 30-45 minutes immediately after the surgery. Calmly rest, making sure your head is elevated. If bleeding continues, replace the gauze for an additional 45 minutes. It is normal to have blood-tinged saliva for the first 24 hours after surgery. (Note: If an uncomfortable amount of bleeding continues, please call your surgeon for instructions.)

The sutures may remain for 5 to 7 days and should not be touched. DO NOT try to cut or pull out the sutures. The sutures placed are resorbable. In the event a suture remains longer than two weeks, please contact the office for a suture removal appointment.

Signs of Infection

It is normal to have some redness, bruising, and swelling after dental implant surgery. The swelling should not get worse once it has begun to go down. If you have persistent swelling after the initial inflammation has passed, you may have an infection. If you experience any of the following signs of infection please call your doctor:

  • Severe pain that gets worse after a few days instead of better
  • Redness or irritation that spreads beyond the surgical site and gets worse after a few days
  • Drainage of pus from the area around the implant
An Oral Surgeon explaining dental implants to a patient using a model


You may be prescribed antibiotics after surgery to help prevent infection, and these should be taken as directed. (Note: For female patients, antibiotics may alter the effectiveness of birth control, please consult with your doctor.)

Pain Medication

Your doctor may prescribe pain medication after surgery. Always follow the advice of your doctor and pharmacist when taking any medications. Take this as directed for the first two or three days after surgery. Then when you are able, you can switch to an over-the-counter option like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). (Note: You may not drive or operate heavy machinery while taking narcotic pain medication.)

  • PLAVIX, COUMADIN and Other BLOOD THINNERS should not be taken with Ibuprofen or Aspirin.

Nausea and Vomiting

After dental implant surgery, some patients may experience nausea and vomiting after anesthesia. This is a common side-effect after any surgery that involves general anesthesia. It is caused by the medications used to put you to sleep and the body’s natural response to surgery. If you experience nausea and vomiting, it should resolve within a few hours after surgery. If it persists, please call your doctor.

IV Site Irritation

It is common to have some redness or swelling around the site where the IV was started. If swelling, pain or firmness of the vein occurs, please consult with your surgeon.

Salt Water Rinsing

Start salt water rinses the day after surgery. These rinses help eliminate bacteria and keep the surgical site clean.

  • Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and rinse your mouth gently for 30 seconds. Spit it out after rinsing.
  • Do this after every meal and before bedtime for up to two weeks or as long as your doctor tells you to.

No Smoking

As tempting as it may be after a major dental procedure, do not smoke after surgery. The healing process after dental implant surgery is sensitive, and smoking can interfere with the success of your implants by hampering the healing process. Smoking puts you at risk of developing peri-implantitis, a bacterial infection that can develop in smokers. Bacteria gather around the base of a dental implant, causing gum and bone tissue to become infected and inflamed. Untreated, the affected bone could deteriorate. This can stop the bone from bonding to the implant.

Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene is essential for the success of dental implants. Even though dental implants are not natural teeth, they still require proper oral care. Brushing with a soft-bristle toothbrush must be done carefully to avoid irritating the healing wound. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on caring for your mouth after surgery, and it is important to follow these instructions carefully to ensure proper healing.

  • Do not brush around the surgical site for 7 days.
  • Do not vigorously rinse your mouth for 14 days after surgery.
  • If an antibiotic rinse is prescribed please use it as directed.


After dental implant surgery, it is necessary to rest and give your body time to heal, especially in the 48 hours following the procedure. It is normal to feel very tired after the procedure, so take it easy and avoid any strenuous activity for a few days after surgery. Your doctor may recommend that you avoid exercise until you have healed completely.


After dental implant surgery, your doctor will recommend a limited diet to ensure your mouth heals without any complications. You should eat soft, nutritious food to ensure you are providing your body with the right nutrients to help you heal faster and reduce the risk of postoperative complications. Your doctor will give you specific dietary recommendations after your procedure. In general, it is important to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet after any major surgery to help promote healing and ensure that your body has all of the nutrients it needs. Small frequent meals are better than 1 or 2 large meals after your surgery.

Soft food suggestions:

  • Smoothies
  • Applesauce
  • Pudding
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Creamy soups and Broths
  • Protein drinks
  • Soft chicken or fish

Bowel Irregularities

Narcotics and dehydration can cause constipation after surgery. If you develop constipation it is important to stop narcotics and drink more fluids. Try to drink a gallon of fluids everyday while on narcotics. Stool softeners may also be used to alleviate constipation. Antibiotics may also cause loose stools or diarrhea. If this occurs, stop antibiotics and call your doctor for further instructions. Kefir and yogurt with live cultures are recommended when taking antibiotics.

Enjoy Your New Smile

You have completed your dental implant surgery and are on your way to a beautiful, new smile. After surgery, it is normal to experience some challenges and symptoms. With proper aftercare, your dental implants should provide a long-lasting result. These suggestions will help you heal quickly and reduce the risk of complications after surgery. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your doctor.

A dental implant patient smiling after the procedure