Do Dental Implants Hurt?

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When you hear the phrase ‘dental implant’, you may assume that this is where a false tooth is implanted in your gums. In fact, what is implanted if you have a dental implant is an artificial root – to which a false tooth can be attached. These are like small posts which are implanted into the bone of your jaw at one end, and at the other end can have crowns, dentures or implant supported bridges attached to them. They are usually made of titanium, which bonds very firmly to the bone of the wall of the tooth socket. Nowadays these artificial roots are “root-form endosseus implants” which means that they are in imitation of the natural root of your tooth, and attach directly to the bone. Before this was the norm implants were either built in a shape that did not resemble the root of a tooth, but instead was the shape of a flat blade (“blade endosseus implants”) or the implants were not set into the bone and instead were attached with screws to exposed jaw bone (called “subperiosteal implants”).

By having a prosthetic root implanted into the jaw you can have an extremely firm and secure method of attaching false teeth, allowing you more freedom to eat what you want and giving you less reason to worry about movement of dentures, crowns, or implant supported bridges.

Dental implants are a popular way of providing a sturdy foundation for restorations used to replace one or more missing teeth. Titanium, this is not only long lasting but reacts well when placed in the body. Because of this reaction it can fuse to your nearby bone tissue providing a completely secure foundation for your restorations. Implants can be used both on individual teeth and to support several teeth, but if you need a full set of teeth replacing, then several implants may be required. Dental implants have the potential to last a lifetime as long as the user has a good oral hygiene regime.

The implantation procedure involves cutting into the gum and using a drill to bore a hole in the bone of your jaw. The implant is then carefully placed into the hole before the gum is replaced. After placement, a number of months will need to be given to let your mouth heal and become used to the implant. During this time, it is normal to be fitted with temporary dentures or dental bridges.

During tretament, the area in the mouth is numbed and therefore the pain is controlled. As having implant surgery is fairly major, it is normal to feel sore in the area for a number of days afterwards as well as during the procedure. As the recovery period progresses over time, the discomfort should lessen and long term pain or discomfort is rare. Once the implant has been fully accepted, it will provide much more versatility and sturdiness than you would achieve with bridges or dentures. You will need to be careful if you smoke or drink a lot of alcohol as both these activities can have an adverse affect on the recovery period, leading to extended healing times. In much the same way, if you have a medical condition or a compromised immune system, then you may not be legible for implant surgery.

The answer to the question of whether dental implants hurt is likely to be: ‘Not as much as you’d expect’. In fact, considering the gruesome descriptions of the procedure, the pain can be relatively minimal. During surgery, your gum is cut open with a scalpel to reveal your jaw bone. This is then drilled directly into and a dental implant is fitted. In delayed fitting implantation, your gum is then stitched up over the implant to allow your jaw and implant to grow together and to heal. After a few months your gum is then reopened and a replacement tooth is inserted into your implant. If you are having immediate loading implants this second stage will take place immediately after the insertion of the implant.

As excruciating as this sounds, it is important to remember that it is all performed under local anaesthetic. There will be absolutely no sensation as the procedure takes place. If you are particularly worried it is likely that you will also be put under sedation and, in this case, you will be almost unaware of the implantation taking place.

So, during the dental implant, you will feel no pain. As the local anaesthetic wears off the area will be tender or painful. You may experience throbbing or swelling but these effects should be able to be controlled by taking over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen and by applying an ice pack to the affected area. In some cases the pain may be severe but this is usually an indication that something has gone wrong. If you feel that you are in an abnormal amount of pain, which cannot me controlled by painkillers, you should immediately consult your doctor or dentist.

Of course the aftermath of a dental implant will hurt, however the pain should be controllable and should not last more than a few days. If you have any concerns you should contact your dentist.

Read more in the Dental Treatment Information Guide »