How much will dental implant treatment hurt?

Pain is a common concern among people thinking of having dental implant treatment.  But there is no need to worry.  In fact, many patients are surprised to find that the discomfort they experience is not as much as they expected. 

Dr Mark Willings of Horbury Dental Care & Implant Centre says, “Patients are genuinely very often surprised how easy and painless the process is.”  Dr Mitesh Badiani at Devon Dental Centre of Excellence, Ashburton adds, “The majority of patients experience no pain at all during the procedure and very little pain afterwards.”

Having dental implants can be life-changing, giving people the confidence to speak, laugh, smile and eat comfortably again.  Patients who have undergone the treatment say that the benefits more than compensate for any temporary discomfort.  

Local anaesthetic

Dental implant treatment is usually carried out under local anaesthetic.  The anaesthesia is similar to that given for tooth extraction.  It completely blocks any pain from your mouth while the implant is surgically placed into the jaw bone.  Patients are normally awake throughout the procedure.  General anaesthetic is only used rarely in complex cases. 

Dr Russell Tant of The Hertfordshire Centre for Dentistry in Harpenden advises, “Most patients experience very little discomfort and by the following day hardly know that they have an implant placed”.  Dr Peter Sanders of Dental Confidence, Southampton adds, “In actual fact, most patients are amazed at how little discomfort is felt throughout the entire treatment procedure.” 

Sedation to relax nervous patients

Patients generally say that having dental implants fitted is far less traumatic than root canal treatment or tooth extraction.  But if you are a nervous patient, your dentist might also offer sedation to relax you during the treatment.  This helps you into a deep, but conscious state of relaxation.

Many patients who were treated under sedation cannot recall their experiences at all.  They feel as if they had been in a peaceful sleep throughout, when in fact they have been completely cooperative.  Treatment is still carried out at the surgery.  You can go home afterwards, however someone must accompany you.  

Pain relief following treatment

When you have had a local anaesthetic it may take several hours before the feeling comes back into your mouth after treatment.  You will usually be able to go home when you feel ready.  Some slight discomfort may be experienced as the anaesthetic wears off, and pain relief may be needed at this stage. 

Your implant dentist will advise you about post-operative pain relief and provide any necessary medication.   Any discomfort normally lasts only for a few days and can be relieved by over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.  If you are still experiencing pain for a longer period, you should contact your dentist.

Dr Guy Barwell of The Implant Centre, Hove adds, “It is easier to keep pain away with regular full dose analgesics, rather than waiting for pain to arrive and then taking the tablets as this is harder to treat.”  Dr Nick Claydon of Rhiwbina Dental Surgery, Cardiff comments, “We often advise patients to take the painkillers that they normally use just prior to the procedure. This ensures that the anti-inflammatory and pain relief benefits are in place once the anaesthetic wears off.”

Recovery after implant surgery

The recovery after dental implant surgery depends on many factors.  Each patient’s recovery process is unique.  Some people heal faster than others.  If there is any bruising, bleeding or swelling, this will only be temporary.   It should completely disappear within about four to seven days of surgery.  Dr Andrew Greenwood of The Implant Foundation, Gosforth says, “The amount of discomfort you experience will be proportional to the complexity of the implant surgery.  As a general rule, pain is present for two to three days and gradually subsides from the third to fourth day onwards.” 

There are several factors that can affect the amount of pain felt after dental implant surgery.  Individual pain thresholds vary.  If your surgery was particularly complex, you may experience slightly more discomfort afterwards.  Dr Azad Eyrumlu of Southern Dental Implant Centres, Snodland adds, If you normally have a low pain threshold, or expect to take longer to heal, the dentist can prescribe you stronger painkillers. A majority of patients only need to take over-the-counter painkillers normally on the first and second day after surgery. Some patients having single implants don’t need to take any painkillers at all.” 

Fitting the crown, bridge or denture

A crown, bridge or denture may be fitted immediately following implant placement or at a later date, to allow the implant(s) to integrate with the bone.  Most patients experience only minor discomfort during this stage of the treatment.  Local anaesthetic can be used to numb the area if necessary.   

Any questions?

If you have any questions about whether the discomfort you experience is normal, you should speak to your dentist.  You can contact a local dentist to ask about implant treatment, using the large buttons in the right hand column of this website.

Further information about dental implant treatment 

This article was written with advice from:

Dr Mitesh Badiani

Dr Guy Barwell

Dr Graham Browning

Dr Nick Claydon

Dr Azad Eyrumlu

Dr Andrew Greenwood

Dr Steve Larcombe

Dr Andrew Moore

Dr Waseem Noordin

Dr Peter Sanders

Dr Alan Sidi

Dr Russell Tant

Dr Don Weerasirie

Dr Mark Willings

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