Many people are interested in dental implants but get cold feet when they think about surgery and potential pain. Dental implants hold the position of the most successful cosmetic procedure to replace missing teeth. Not only do these implants look natural, but they also function just as your natural teeth would.
So, what’s the amount of pain involved with the procedure, and what can you do to reduce discomfort? This article will help you understand the basics of pain related to dental implants.
The dental implant procedure
Dental implants are screws made of titanium that act as artificial tooth roots. The screw is inserted into the jawbone, and then a connecting piece called an abutment is attached. This device helps to support a single tooth, several teeth in a row, or an entire arch of teeth by attaching the restoration (usually a crown or bridge) to the implant.
Receiving dental implants requires multiple steps over time.
Step 1: The initial consultation
At this appointment, your dentist will examine your mouth and teeth to see if you are a good candidate for dental implants. This may include taking X-rays or 3D diagnostic imaging.
The check-up will also help your dentist determine if any other treatments, like a bone graft, are needed before you can get dental implants. They will go over all of the suitable options with you and provide you with a comprehensive treatment plan customised to what they think will work best for you.
Step 2: Implant placement
Depending on your individual case, the implant placement surgery may happen soon after your initial consultation if you don’t need a tooth extraction first. During the surgery, the dentist will drill a small hole into the bone for implant placement.
After the surgery, the bone will fuse to the implant in a process known as osseointegration. Osseointegration is important because it creates a sturdy base for your artificial tooth (or teeth). The entire process can take up to six months, but don’t worry—it’s not painful.
Step 3: Abutment placement
The next step involved is the placement of the abutment. It serves as a support and connection between the crown and the titanium root of the artificial tooth. In some cases, the abutment may be placed at the same time as the implant root.
Step 4: Artificial teeth placement
After a brief healing period, the dentist will fit your dental crown. Dental crowns are usually made of porcelain or zirconia and will be colour matched to your existing teeth for a flawless finish. Before you leave our clinic with your gorgeous new smile, the dentist will check your bite and make sure it is cemented in place.
Is a dental implant painful? During the surgery
Many people are anxious about dental implant surgery and their level of discomfort during the surgery. Here at Advanced Dental Care, we go above and beyond to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible throughout the entire process. You can choose to have local anesthesia or IV sedation so that you won’t feel any significant discomfort!
If you’re anxious about having a hole drilled in your jawbone for a dental implant, don’t worry -this area of the jaw has no nerve endings. Your dentist will be able to discuss different options with you at the initial consultation if you are concerned about the potential pain or suffer from dental anxiety.
What about the pain after the dental implant procedure?
While you will not feel any significant pain during the dental implant surgery because of the anaesthesia or sedation, it’s typical to experience some discomfort in the days after your surgery. This is similar to any other type of dental surgery and may include swelling, bruising, tenderness, mild discomfort, and minor bleeding for up to 24 hours after surgery. These symptoms usually last no more than two weeks; if they persist longer than that timeframe, visit your dentist so they can check for a potential infection.
Complications after dental implant surgery are not common, however, if you experience increased swelling, pain that is getting worse, excessive bleeding and difficulty swallowing or breathing, please visit your dentist immediately.
Here’s how to minimise the discomfort that comes with dental implants
After getting dental implants, it is important that you follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions. This will offer faster healing and reduced discomfort after implant surgery. Some of these may be:
Use a cold compress
To reduce swelling and implant pain, put an ice pack on the side of your cheek with the dental implant. Cover the icepack with a towel to prevent burns, and do this for ten to fifteen minutes at one time.
Consume soft/ chewable food
You may find it difficult to chew food for a few days after your surgery, as your gums, mouth, and jaw may be sore. To make sure you’re still getting nutrients during this time, stick to soft foods that are easy to eat but also healthy and filling. These include soups, yoghurt, porridge, smoothies and scrambled eggs.
Anything that is crunchy or crumbly should be avoided, as it can irritate the implant site. Foods that are spicy or acidic should also be avoided for the same reason.
Do not take hot food/drinks
Eating or drinking anything hot can burn you before the anaesthetic wears off. Also, it’s best to avoid hot foods and drinks because they might worsen any minor bleeding.
Avoid smoking and consumption of alcohol
Not only does smoking impede the healing process, but it also slows down osseointegration. Alcoholic beverages can dehydrate your mouth and make it harder to heal while simultaneously interacting with any medication used for dental implant pain relief.
Maintain good oral hygiene
It’s important to keep up with your oral hygiene even after your implant surgery, but be careful not to touch the surgical site for a few days.
When brushing, use a manual toothbrush and avoid water jet flossers for the first two weeks. Rinsing with a warm saltwater solution can help clean your mouth and sanitise the area.
Avoid strenuous activities
Avoid vigorous exercise for the first few days after having dental implants fitted, as it can lead to throbbing and bleeding in the area.
Use pain medication
If you’re experiencing any pain from your dental implants, over-the-counter painkillers can help manage the discomfort. If your dentist has prescribed medication like antibiotics, be sure to take them exactly as directed and finish the entire course.
If you think you might need dental implants but are worried about the procedure, please schedule a consultation appointment with Dr Priya Shanmungalingam at Advanced Dental Care. Dr Priya and our friendly team will be more than happy to go over your treatment options and help you make the best decision for your smile.
To book an initial consultation, contact us at (02) 6188 7103 today.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
Everything to know about a dental implant procedure