One of the most common questions for any medical procedure is, “Is it going to hurt?” It’s easy to understand why a lot of people are afraid that dental procedures will cause them pain. Between the sharp tools displayed next to you and some less than ideal representations on TV, you might feel yourself start to sweat when faced with the prospect of a dental procedure.
With dental anxiety impacting anywhere from 50%-80% of the population, it’s not too surprising that lot of people have chosen not to undergo a life-changing procedure because they’re afraid. And that’s a shame.
We’re here to dispel some of the collective anxiety surrounding dental implants with the hope that understanding the process and what to expect, you won’t choose to continue dealing with dental pain and covering your smile.
First, a quick overview of what, exactly, dental implants are.
Dental implants are designed to replace missing or decaying teeth. Unlike dentures or bridges, they are installed into the jawbone rather than sitting on top of the gums.
There are three components to dental implants. The first is the titanium post, which is placed into the jawbone. The second is an abutment, which is a connector piece that secures the dental implant to the third component: the artificial tooth, or crown.
Dental implants are often the preferred method for replacing missing teeth because, over time, the jawbone fuses to the metal post and creates a sturdy foundation. This foundation replicates the original root system and restores the entire structure of the jawbone. Without this, the surrounding tissues and jawbone can start to deteriorate.
The procedure typically takes place over several months as the posts heal and you move on to the next step of installing your new tooth.
Now that we know what dental implant surgery entails, let’s get to the big question. Do dental implants hurt?
The short answer is no, dental implants usually don’t hurt beyond a pinch while receiving anesthesia and some soreness while in recovery. Let’s go into the specifics of what you can expect.
When you discuss your tooth replacement options with your dentist or oral surgeon, they will likely discuss what anesthesia options they offer. Although it depends on the surgeon, these options most often include:
- Local anesthesia applied to a specific area in your mouth
- Sedation anesthesia that can help you relax or lightly sleep during the procedure
- General anesthesia that is administered through an IV and lets you sleep for the duration of the procedure.
Everyone’s preferences will be different. If you have extreme dental anxiety, local anesthesia might not be enough to calm your nerves and help you relax. If pain is your only concern, then local anesthesia might be just right.
During the procedure, you might feel some pressure, but it should not be painful. If you find the procedure more uncomfortable than you think it should be, let your dentist or surgeon know so they can adjust.
After the procedure, when the anesthesia begins to wear off; you may feel some soreness in your jaw and surrounding gums. This is normal and easily managed with over-the-counter pain medication. Typically, soreness subsides within a few days. If your gums remain sore beyond a few days, contact your surgeon.
Post-surgery, it is critical that you take care of your new implant and the rest of your teeth. Soreness will go away with time if you maintain your teeth with regular brushing, flossing, and checkups. If you don’t care for your teeth, then you could come across painful complications.
It’s important to note that everyone is different. We all have a unique pain tolerance and a pinch for one might be more painful for another. However, dealing with the problem head-on can protect you from painful ailments and more intrusive dental work down the road.
Don’t let fear and anxiety about pain keep you uncomfortable, particularly when there are good solutions to the problem of missing teeth. If you’re feeling nervous, consult with a dentist or oral surgeon. They’ve seen it before and can walk you through the procedure to ease your mind.