Oral Health and Genetic Risk Factors

Jaw Stiffness After Dental Implant Surgery: Is It Normal?

Dental implants are quite impressive in that their placement is incredibly intricate, while also being a routine (and comfortingly predictable) surgical procedure. Your dentist will make an incision in your gingival tissues to access the part of your jaw (the alveolar ridge) where the implant will be placed. Considering that a foreign object (the titanium alloy implant) has been placed in your body, some healing is to be expected. This healing is actually how the implant stabilises itself, allowing it to function as an artificial tooth root for the prosthetic tooth that will be attached to it. Some jaw stiffness is unlikely to be a surprise after dental implant surgery. But how much stiffness is normal?

Some Stiffness Is To Be Expected

Remembering that your jaw is now healing around the implant, jaw stiffness is to be expected during the recovery period. This can result in limited functionality of your jaw muscles, meaning you may find it difficult to fully open your mouth. The condition is known as trismus and should only be temporary.

The Problem Is Likely To Be Temporary

The normal functionality of your bite should gradually return. The pain medication recommended by your dentist will help with this. Some inflammation to your mastication (chewing) muscles, as well as their associated nerves and ligaments, is perfectly normal. The anti-inflammatory medication recommended by your dentist can manage this aftereffect. Similarly, the trauma experienced by your jaw will also be minimised by pain relief. For many patients, any trismus should be short-lived.

When Dental Treatment Is Needed

Lingering jaw stiffness isn't a reason to be alarmed, but you need to inform your dentist. Your trismus will certainly be monitored, but it's unlikely that drastic intervention will be needed. Although jaw stiffness after dental implant surgery can last longer for some patients than others, it's still likely to correct itself. Your dentist may recommend the use of a heating pad on your jaw. You might also be shown some jaw stretching exercises, which can help to restore normal functionality. Don't be tempted to look up any jaw stretching exercises online, unless specifically directed. You might be doing more harm than good, and jaw stretching in these cases should only be attempted under your dentist's guidance. Additionally, some patients might need stronger anti-inflammatory measures, such as a prescription corticosteroid. 

If you're worried about how stiff your jaw is after dental implant surgery, please consult your dentist. It's a normal part of the process, but lingering stiffness may need to be addressed.