Unmasking Tooth Implant Side Effects – A Comprehensive Guide

Oct 20, 2023
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Tooth implant side effects are a natural part of the dental implant recovery process. Here’s a comprehensive guide to what they are and what you may expect.

Even today, after sixty years, dental implants remain the ‘gold standard’ option for the replacement of missing teeth. They are incredibly strong and allow patients to eat normally without dietary restrictions. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that there has been a large increase in the popularity of dental implants in the US, and this growth shows no signs of abating.

Inevitably, implants stand out from their competition because they’re anchored surgically into the jaw. As such, they become an integral part of the mouth over time. Undertaking this procedure, however, can mean that tooth implant side effects after surgery are a natural part of the recovery process.

In this post, we’ll take a close look at what those side effects are and what patients should (and should not) expect. So let’s get started.

Pain and discomfort

It’s only natural for patients to experience some discomfort after a surgical procedure and tooth implants are no exception. Typically, discomfort near the implant site is most noticeable during the first few days after surgery. However, any pain should diminish within a week to ten days. In the meantime, discomfort is typically managed using either prescription painkillers or over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol.

If pain continues past the ten-day period and worsens to the point where medications aren’t providing any form of relief, this is not normal. As such, implant patients are advised to get in touch with their implant surgeon as soon as possible.

Minor bleeding

Another post-surgical side effect of tooth implants is bleeding. Sometimes a little blood from the incision area may appear in your saliva. Again, as long as the blood is not excessive, this is normal until the site properly heals – healing can take several days.

To minimize bleeding after dental implant surgery, it’s important to avoid any strenuous exercise and instead, stick to gentle movements and plenty of rest. But also, patients can gently apply a wet gauze to the affected area and carefully bite down. Your dentist should supply you with gauze as part of your post-surgical care package.  

If bleeding continues beyond a few days, or you experience excessive amounts of blood, there may well be another reason beyond the norm. If this is the case, then talk to your implant surgeon about the situation.

Swelling and bruising

Not every implant patient experiences swelling and bruising, but it is one of the more common tooth implant side effects after surgery, particularly when multiple implants have been placed. Swelling is the body’s natural response to trauma (in this case, implant surgery) and is the result of an increased movement of fluids carrying white blood cells, enzymes and growth factors to the affected area. Swelling and bruising often occur during the first stages of recovery (typically within the first few days) and signify that you’re on the mend.

Normally, swelling and bruising can be brought under control using a combination of hot and cold compresses. Any application should be repeated at regular intervals until the bruising and swelling subsides or is no longer present – typically, this is around seven to ten days.

Implant sensitivity

While an implant resembles a tooth root, it doesn’t contain nerves. So what we might interpret as implant sensitivity is actually tenderness around the implant site. Tenderness can apply to the jawbone, gum and even adjacent teeth and is natural after dental implant surgery.

To remain comfortable, patients should avoid rigorous brushing at the implant site, or overly hot/cold or spicy foods as they can irritate the areas around the implant while escalating any discomfort further.

Instead, be sure to eat and drink lukewarm foods and beverages and stick to plain softer foods that are high in nutrients. Foods like flaky fish, eggs and soups are ideal.

Typically, the mouth should begin to feel normal again after 1-2 weeks but this does depend on the amount of oral surgery a patient has undertaken.

Gum discoloration

Discoloration around the gum tissue is also normal after tooth implant surgery and is usually caused by bruising in and around the implant site. As such, this is nothing to worry about and patients don’t need to do anything to help the problem as any bruising should dissipate naturally within 1-2 weeks.  

Now we’ve discussed the normalities of tooth implant side effects after surgery, it’s time to talk about what you shouldn’t expect or what falls outside of the norm.

Dental implant side effects – What you should not encounter

Extreme discomfort

We’ve already talked about the normalities of slight discomfort after dental implant surgery but if you experience surging pain that either worsens or doesn’t disappear, this is beyond normal. For this reason, you should schedule an appointment with your implant dentist as soon as possible as there may be underlying issues that need addressing.

Fever or nausea

The human mouth is home to billions of bacteria, some good and some bad. If bad bacteria (pathogens) get into the implant site they will cause discomfort but may also trigger other systemic symptoms like fever and sickness. While these symptoms can be a direct response to surgery, it may also mean you have a badly infected dental implant that will need investigating. So if sickness or fever persists, contact your oral surgeon.

General implant irritation

Sometimes the tissue surrounding the implant may reopen after surgery. This is known as incision line opening and can be felt in symptoms like general irritation or a sudden ‘pulling’ pain. If this is the case, you should talk to your implant dentist at the earliest possible opportunity so they can take a closer look.

Extreme swelling

Prolonged inflammation that affects the ability to open the mouth or swallow could signify a bigger problem, namely infection. Additionally, excessive swelling could also be a symptom of an allergic reaction. Even high-grade titanium can contain impurities that trigger allergic responses, and although the latter is very rare, extreme inflammation could well be the body’s natural reaction. 

If you experience prolonged or extreme swelling or inflammation that’s outside of the norm, get in touch with your implant dentist immediately.

Breathing problems

Under normal circumstances, dental implant surgery should not cause breathing issues, however, when an implant impacts or pierces the sinus cavity, this can lead to a stuffy nose which can affect nasal breathing. This may be accompanied by a bloody nasal discharge. If you do experience any post-surgical breathing issues or nasal bleeding it’s important to contact your oral surgeon or ENT specialist as soon as possible. 

So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to tooth implant side effects after surgery.  If you are considering dental implants as a replacement for missing teeth, it’s good to have an understanding of what to (and what not to) expect.

At Chesterfield Dentistry. We provide a free implant consultation where you can get all your questions and concerns answered, allowing you to make a fully informed decision. 

Book yours today!