The process of replacing a tooth with an artificial dental implant requires surgery. As with any surgery, your body may not be quite up to snuff in the hours and days following the procedure. It's important to know what's normal to experience post-op and what might warrant a call to the doc.
Puffy gums and a swollen face are among the side effects your dentist is most likely to mention. The swelling is at its worst within 48 hours, and typically begins to subside after that. A puffy face may be accompanied by a stiff jaw--caused by the swelling, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons-certified Kentucky Oral Surgeons. If the puffiness is not relieved by moist gauze or ice packs and gets worse after two days, you need to contact your surgeon.
There's a good chance you'll have purple and yellow bruises on your face and gums post-surgery, according to the Mayo Clinic. Don't be alarmed if the bruising seems to migrate from your face to your neck and shoulders. This is a normal post-op response that occurs when tissues are disturbed during surgery.
You're probably expecting to feel some pain in the area where your implant was placed -- and you'd be correct in assuming that. The pain may signal a problem if it seems to get worse in the 24 to 48 hours following the procedure. You may need painkillers or, at worst, it could be the sign of a nasty infection, according to Dr. Clarence Lindquist of the Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery & Dental Implant Center of Washington, D.C.
You may be one of the few to have an infection if you experience escalating pain, coupled with more swelling, a fever that runs over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, or bad breath or bad taste emanating from the implant site. Call your doctor.
Even more rare than an infection, according to Colgate, is nerve damage caused during surgery. If it does happen, you'll know it. You'll either have pain or not be able to feel anything on your lip, chin or tongue. Usually, nerve damage occurs when a dentist nicks the nerve with a drill as he's trying to replace a tooth in the lower jaw. Usually the numbness is short-lived, but sometimes it never goes away.
Another casualty of a procedure revolving around a lower tooth implant can be a jaw fracture, when the jawbone is damaged during surgery. Jaw joint pain, known as TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder), can also be an unwanted result, according to Kentucky Oral Surgeons.
When an upper tooth is replaced, there is a slight chance of sustaining damage to your sinuses, according to Colgate. The damage happens when the surgeon accidentally drills through the jawbone and into the sinuses or nasal cavity, resulting in an infection.