Many people worry that getting dental implants will be a painful process. But there’s good news: people who have gone through the process say that it’s much less discomfort than they expected. In fact, it can be one of the least painful dental procedures you go through. Here’s why.
Few Nerves in the Bone
People expect that dental implant surgery will hurt partly because a damaged or infected tooth can be very painful. And any procedure that treats a tooth, such as a filling or crown can cause significant discomfort.
However, the discomfort in all these cases comes from the tooth, which has a relatively high density of pain-sensing nerves. And because these nerves are trapped in a confined space, any swelling in the tooth can put pressure on them, causing significant discomfort. That’s why something like a filling can cause significant pain, even if it doesn’t directly involve the tooth nerve. The vibration of drilling a hole into the tooth to place the filling causes vibrations that disturb the tooth nerve, causing swelling, which can lead to discomfort for several days after your filling.
But the bone where we place implants is not so full of pain-sensing nerves. Plus, the surgical site isn’t under the same constraints, so swelling doesn’t usually create high pressure in the area.
A Straightforward Procedure
Another thing that can lead to discomfort is the uncertainties of biological systems. When we’re working with a tooth, there are more potential variables to deal with, and sometimes situations arise that cause more discomfort than we would wish.
But a dental implant is an engineered system. Everything related to the implant is precise and predictable. The procedure itself is fairly simple. It usually starts with drilling a pilot hole into your jawbone to receive the implant. Then we screw the implant into the hole. If you just had a tooth extracted, we might not even need to drill the hole. In fact, we usually have a hole that’s too big. We insert the implant into the hole, and use bone graft material to help your body build bone around the implant. This is called a socket graft, and it may not extend the time required to complete your procedure.
And we have the tools to reduce uncertainty related to your jaw. With our CT scanner, we can take detailed 3D images of the surgical site, which lets us plan the procedure out in detail, and this precise planning allows us to reduce discomfort.
Another benefit of imaging is that we can be thorough in preparing the area for surgery. We use adequate anesthesia to numb the area. During your procedure, you shouldn’t feel any discomfort at all. Most likely, you will just feel pressure and force.
The biggest risk of discomfort is psychological. Focusing on and being tense about surgery can increase your discomfort. If you are anxious about your surgery, we might recommend sedation dentistry to help you feel at ease, which can decrease discomfort during and after your implant procedure.
Postoperative Care to Control Discomfort
Some amount of discomfort is expected after implant surgery. However, if you follow postoperative instructions carefully, it will be mild and easy to deal with.
For the rest of the day after your procedure, apply an ice pack to the cheek near your implants. Apply for ten minutes on, ten minutes off. If you feel too cold, but not much discomfort, you can extend the rest period somewhat, but don’t just stop applying ice. The ice not only helps with discomfort, it helps to control swelling and make it easier for you to get back to a normal routine.
You may have been prescribed pain medication, though it’s not always necessary for implant procedures. If you haven’t been told otherwise, just follow the label instructions for your over-the-counter medication. Often, we recommend ibuprofen or another NSAID because it helps to control swelling as well as discomfort. Whether you have prescription pain medication or are taking over-the-counter medications, start taking them when the first tingles of sensation start. This can help head off discomfort as anesthesia wears off.
For the first day, avoid hot and spicy foods (temperature and spiciness can increase discomfort). You can gradually shift back to a normal diet, but avoid hard, crunchy foods for about a week after your procedure.
Don’t brush the day of your procedure. When you do brush, avoid the surgical sites at first. Only gradually, and gently move to start brushing the surgical area. In the meantime, use a prescribed rinse if you have one or a saltwater rinse if not to help clean the area.
If you follow these postoperative instructions, discomfort should taper off in 5-7 days.
Pain Is Personal
Of course, it’s important to understand that discomfort is very personal. People have different subjective experiences of discomfort, and a procedure that one person might describe as being relatively painless might seem significantly painful. We can talk to you about your personal experiences of discomfort during dental procedures and tailor our approach to help you have the most comfortable dental procedure we can design.
We also understand that it might be hard for you to accept it at face value when we tell you that the procedure doesn’t cause much discomfort. After all, we have a vested interest in wanting you to go ahead with the procedure. That’s why we encourage you to look at testimonials from our previous patients and see how they describe their experiences. In addition, you can actually talk to some of our previous patients and see not just the level of discomfort they experienced, but how we worked to limit their discomfort during and after the procedure.
Considering Dental Implants in Rochester, NY?
If you’re considering dental implants in Rochester, NY, we can help. Our periodontal specialist, Dr. Alessandro Geminiani, has detailed training and extensive experience in dental implant procedures. He can help ensure your procedure goes as smoothly as possible, with little discomfort. Dental implants are very long-lasting (more than 90% last about 20 years) so even if you experience some minor discomfort during the procedure, they remain a great investment for your future health and quality of life.
To schedule a consultation about dental implants, please call (585) 244-3337 today for an appointment at Contemporary Dentistry.