Are Dental Implants Painful? What to Expect

Missing teeth can lead to an array of oral and overall health complications, which is why tooth replacement is critical. According to the American Dental Association, dental implants are the best option because they look, feel, and function more like natural teeth than other options.

However, since this is an invasive surgery, many patients are concerned about the pain associated with it. Thanks to advancements in dental technology and anesthesia, it’s not as bad as you might think.

What is Involved in Dental Implant Surgery?

There are several steps involved in dental implant placement surgery. The entire process can take at least 6 months to a year. In some cases, additional procedures are required such as tooth extraction or bone grafting to build up the jawbone to accommodate the implant.

Consultation

The first step in this process is the consultation visit, which involves a comprehensive exam and imaging. This will allow the dentist to determine the health of your jawbone and the surrounding 

natural teeth. Your current oral and overall health will be discussed, as well as your oral hygiene and lifestyle habits.

The information gathered during this visit will determine your need for additional procedures such as tooth extraction, gum disease treatment, and/or bone grafting.

Tooth extraction

There are two types of tooth extraction, simple and surgical. The type of extraction required depends on the condition of the tooth. Local anesthesia will be administered, and the tooth will be removed. If the surrounding natural teeth, gums, and jawbone are healthy, the implant may be placed immediately. If not, you will need to wait for the area to heal before the implant can be placed.

Bone grafting

Dental implants require adequate jawbone density for support. If you have been missing a tooth for some time, your jawbone will begin to deteriorate. When this happens, you will need a bone graft to build up the jawbone for implant placement. If this procedure is required, you will need time to heal before the implants can be placed.

Installing your dental implant post

When it comes time for the implant to be placed, a small incision will be made in the gum and a hole drilled in the jawbone. The implant post will be placed in the hole and the incision will be stitched closed.

If you are getting traditional dental implants, you will need about 3 to 6 months to heal before the abutment and crown can be placed. In the case of All-on-4 implants, a temporary prosthesis will be placed at this time.

Placing the abutment

Traditional dental implants require the placement of an abutment, which secures the crown to the implant post. In the case of mini dental implants or All-on-4 dental implants, this step can be skipped. Once the abutment is placed, a healing cap will be added to prevent the gum from healing over it and the custom crown will be ordered which takes a few weeks.

Installing your crown

Once your custom crown has been fabricated and sent back to the office, the dentist will remove the healing cap and install the crown.

Managing the Pain Associated with Dental Implants

Pain associated with this procedure is most acute during the first 3 to 5 days following surgery. After that, it should begin to resolve. If not, you may need to contact your dentist to determine if you are experiencing complications. Here’s how to manage pain following the surgery:

Immediately After Surgery

The day of and the first few days after surgery, you should:

  • Avoid spitting or using a straw to drink
  • Take all medications (antibiotics and/or pain medications) as prescribed
  • Apply ice packs 20 minutes on/20 minutes off on the cheek near the surgical site for the first 48 hours
  • After 48 hours, switch to using a warm compress three times daily
  • Rinse with a warm saltwater solution several times daily to soothe the area and facilitate healing

Additional Tips for After the Surgery

In addition to the above pain management tips, there are a few other things you can do to ensure the healing process goes smoothly:

Stay hydrated- drink lots of water. Avoid coffee, soda, tea, etc for the first few days. After a few days, you can start adding these things back, but stick mostly to water during the healing process.

Your mouth will be sore, so it’s important to stick to soft, cool foods for at least a few days following surgery. After that, you can begin to transition to a fairly normal diet- but avoid foods that are overly hard, crunchy, or tough until osseointegration has occurred.

While you can resume your normal activities within a few days, it’s important to avoid any overly strenuous activities- including heavy lifting- for at least a week. Strenuous activities can increase your blood pressure, which can cause complications with the surgical site.

Dental Implant FAQs

If you have any questions or concerns about dental implants, feel free to contact your dentist. They will be able to guide you through the process and help you understand all you need to know.

Thanks to the many advancements in dental technology and anesthesia options, the pain and discomfort of these two procedures is comparable. In most cases, pain can be controlled with an OTC or prescription pain reliever.

There are several factors involved in determining when a dental implant can be placed after tooth extraction. In some cases, the implant may be placed the same day. However, most surgeons recommend waiting 2 to 3 months. This allows your gums time to heal from the trauma of the extraction as well as allowing your body to fight off any infection that may have been present.

This is determined on a case-by-case basis. Some patients qualify for same-day implant placement, while others need to allow their gums time to heal before the implants can be placed.

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