How to Avoid the Numbness After Dental Implant Placement


When you undergo the implantation procedure, the oral surgeon has to drill into your jawbone. This drilling and implantation process inevitably causes some trauma, inflammation and subsequent compression of the nerves and tissues surrounding the implant site.

The technical term for these numb, tingly sensations is “paresthesia.” For most dental implant patients, it’s just a temporary side effect that resolves within a few weeks as the inflammation goes down and the nerves recover from the surgical disturbance.

However, for an unlucky few (around 8-10% of implant patients), that numbness can outstay its welcome and persist longer than desired if the nerves have been significantly traumatized.

Post-Implant Numbness Prevention

So when it comes to post-implant numbness prevention, don’t overcomplicate it. Stick to some simple, proven tips and have patience for your body’s natural healing process to run its course.

Here are the post-implant numbness prevention techniques that are widely recommended:

  1. Ice, Ice Baby: In the first 48 hours after your implant surgery, apply an ice pack to your face around the surgical site for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times per day. The cold helps constrict blood vessels and reduce inflammation around the injured nerves. Less inflammation = less numbness.
  2. A Soft Food Bonanza: For the first week or two after your implant procedure, steer clear of crunchy, chewy, or anything that requires excessive chewing and movement of your jaw. Stick to smoothies, soups, yogurt, milkshakes, mashed potatoes and similar soft foods. This gives the surgical site a break to heal without disruption from a lot of mouth movement tugging on those sensitive nerves.
  3. Take Meds as Prescribed: Use those prescription anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs like ibuprofen) and prescription painkillers as directed by your dental surgeon. They’ll help reduce swelling, inflammation and associated numbness around the implant area. Don’t take more than prescribed, but do take them on schedule.
  4. No Chipmunk Cheeks: As tempting as it may be, resist that urge to constantly poke, prod, pull or massage the numb areas of your mouth with your fingers or tongue. Let the surgical site be for a little while – all that manipulation can actually increase inflammation and slow healing.
  5. The Patience Game: For the vast majority of dental implant patients, any numbness or tingling sensations resolve within 3-8 weeks as the nerves have a chance to recover from the surgical trauma. Don’t panic if your numbness lingers a little longer. As long as it’s gradually improving, you’re likely still in the normal healing timeline.

Don’t Double Down on Unproven Post-Implant Numbness Prevention Ideas

Of course, if you really want to spin your wheels and end up chasing your own tail, you could fall for some of the home remedy “solutions” that inevitably start making the rounds when you search for effective nerve sensitivity management techniques.

Some individuals resort to unconventional methods like employing a soft toothbrush for “dry brushing” the face to stimulate circulation (because nothing aids numbness like aggravating the sensitive area!). Others advocate for facial massagers and intense electric vibration devices (an added layer of trauma to the injury, a brilliant idea!). Then there are those who adopt guerrilla tactics such as using a cotton ball saturated in mint oil or other menthol products to “awaken” the nerves (hello, potential chemical burn). However, these approaches deviate from the norm and may pose risks, especially when dealing with Teeth Cleaning.

You can see how quickly the post-implant numbness prevention “solutions” can become more absurd and potentially problematic than just leaving things alone. Don’t go there!

The bottom line is, trying increasingly convoluted and off-the-wall post-implant numbness prevention “home remedies” is not going to magically accelerate your nerves’ healing and reduce numbness any faster. More likely, you’ll end up causing more inflammation, irritation and damage that could prolong your recovery.

What if the Numbness Persists

So what if you follow all the basic tips – icing, soft foods, medications, patience – and that numbness still persists beyond a few months with no signs of improvement? At what point should you realistically start getting concerned?

Most dental professionals advise giving it a solid 3-4 months for the numbness to completely resolve after an implant procedure. The nerves can take their sweet time healing from that type of trauma. However, if you hit the 5-6 month mark with no change or perhaps even a progression of numbness, it’s a good idea to go back to your oral surgeon for an evaluation.

They may want to take another look with imaging to ensure there are no residual issues like nerve compression or hematoma that could be permanently impacting those nerves. In some cases, surgical intervention may be required to alleviate numbness if it appears nerve damage was significant. But this is the exception, not the norm, so have patience first.

If your numbness starts showing gradual improvement by 3-4 months and continues resolving over time, even if it takes 6-12 months to fully go away, you’re likely still in the “normal” recovery timeline. Just keep sticking to the proven techniques of preventing dental surgery numbness – icing, soft diet, no fussing with the area, etc. And keep the faith that your nerves are slowly but surely healing!

The Simple Post-Implant Numbness Prevention Solution

The bottom line is, some numbness is completely normal and to be expected after getting dental implants, thanks to the trauma and nerve disturbance involved in that surgery. By following some simple best practices for minimizing numbness after implants – icing, resting your jaw, medication as prescribed and giving it a few weeks or months – you’ll likely start regaining full sensation again soon without any crazy remedies required.

If significant numbness persists beyond 6 months though, with no gradual improvement, that’s a good time to circle back with your dental surgeon and get it evaluated for any complications. But for the vast majority of implant patients, keeping it simple is the ticket.

So have patience, stick to the basics, and avoid heading down the rabbit hole of increasingly convoluted “solutions.” Before you know it, your smile will be back in all its full, non-numb glory!

Contact Us

If you are experiencing post-implant numbness and are worried that it is worsening, do not hesitate to book an appointment with our experienced and skilled dentists. Call us today at (713)-364-1985 to get started on your journey to a complication-free future where your implants work exactly as you expect them to. Let us help you enjoy all the benefits of your implant without having to worry about pain, discomfort, or complications.