How Long Do Dental Implants Take to Heal Before I Can Eat Normally Again?

Healing after surgery for dental implants

Understanding the Dental Implant Treatment and Healing Process

Today, dental implants are the preferred option for tooth replacement in most cases. This durable solution restores the appearance of your smile and can help you regain natural eating and speaking abilities. Dental implants even protect your jawbone in the long term. However, patients still have plenty of questions about them.

One of the most common questions is, “How long do dental implants take?” It’s natural to seek information about the treatment process and recovery before committing. The best way to find out whether dental implants are right for you is to speak with your dentist. Here are some of the facts you should know about dental implant recovery.

Factors that Can Affect Your Dental Implant Treatment

Tooth implants address all kinds of situations, whether you have one or more missing teeth, or no teeth. The process and recovery will vary depending on your individual needs. Your current oral health, additional procedures, and other factors can affect recovery.

So how long do dental implants take in different situations? The first factor to consider is the current state of your oral health. Gum disease is one such factor to look for. If you currently have gum disease, your dentist will likely delay any implant placement.

Dental implants are placed through surgery, so gum disease poses a serious risk of infection. You will need to get your gum disease under control before the surgery can proceed, which could require changes to your oral hygiene routine or various gum disease treatments.

Another potential complicating factor is jawbone density and size. Dental implants rely on your jawbone as a foundation. Good bone density allows some patients to receive immediate-load implants, with the replacement tooth being placed days after implant surgery. These patients can expect to heal within three to six months. 

However, if you have lived with missing teeth for years, then your jawbone may have deteriorated without the stimulation from tooth roots. In some cases, a patient’s jawbone is naturally too thin to support dental implants. While these factors delay treatment, they don’t necessarily make it impossible.

You may need bone grafting to augment the jawbone, which must heal before dental implant placement. It can take three to six months from bone grafting to implant placement. Delayed-load implants can take an additional three to six months from implant placement to when the replacement tooth is attached.

How Dental Implant Recovery Affects Your Diet

After implant placement, you’ll have specific instructions to follow during recovery. Your dentist will go over any dietary restrictions, oral care instructions, and medication, in detail, to give you the best chance of having a successful recovery.

Immediately after implant placement surgery, you’ll be restricted to soft foods. Chewing can disrupt the implant site, causing bleeding and potentially leading to infection. For the first few days and up to a week or so, you should stick to soft foods, such as soups, mashed potatoes, yogurt, and applesauce.

You should also avoid any food or drink that might irritate the area, including anything particularly hot or cold. Acidic beverages, such as soda, coffee, or wine, are also likely to cause irritation. Don’t drink anything through a straw, as the suction can upset healing.

After a week, you should be more or less back to normal. You should continue to avoid particularly tough foods, such as steak. You can speak with your dentist about dietary restrictions during your next checkup to evaluate the healing process.

Full Recovery After Implant Placement

Full recovery after implant placement takes between three and six months. During this period, the dental implant fuses to the bone tissue to provide a strong and lasting foundation. You won’t have any side effects or additional restrictions for most of that time, but the dental implant isn’t fully recovered yet.

The dental implant will have an abutment placed over it to ensure the appropriate spacing of your gum tissue for the permanent tooth replacement to sit comfortably. The abutment also serves as the link between the dental implant and the replacement tooth.

Once the implant fuses to your jawbone, your dentist will place the implant restoration. This is the tooth replacement that uses the dental implant as a foundation. It can be a crown, bridge, or full-arch replacement.

Dental Implants in Virginia Beach

If you have missing teeth or require an upcoming extraction, then dental implants may be the best tooth replacement option for your needs. The team at King Dental can determine whether dental implants or other restoration options are right for you. Schedule a consultation today for information about your treatment options.

King Dental