Implant Pain

Whenever a patient is sitting in my chair and we are discussing implants there is normally one expression that comes out of their mouth… “I can’t get implants because they will hurt”. Whether it’s that person trying to use the fear of pain as a excuse not to spend the money, or if they are truly afraid of the pain, I would like to try and relate to you my experiences.

I have treated countless patients with implants. The treatments have ranged from something as simple as one implant to hold one side of a partial denture in place to as complicated as extracting every tooth in a persons mouth, placing ten implants, and then securing permanent teeth into their mouth. Out of all of these treatments the one sentiment that virtually all of my patients have expressed is: “That didn’t hurt anywhere near what I thought it would”.

Fear is a big factor in our lives. It stopped some of us from asking out that boy or girl we liked back in high school. It stops some of us from going on big roller coasters when we know they’re perfectly safe and it can stop us from receiving a treatment that would drastically improve our quality of life.

The fear of pain, however, is completely understandable in our mouths. Most of us have had a dental treatment that hurt quite a bit. Due to less than desirable procedure techniques used decades ago there is a very large number of people, generally 40 years of age or over, who are afraid to even sit in a dental chair because of a traumatic dental procedure performed when they were a child. And let me tell you… this fear is very difficult to overcome; I see it every day.

Even for someone who has never had a traumatic experience at a dental office we all know how sensitive our mouths are. Add to that the mental image of placing something that looks like a screw through the gums and into the bone is enough to bring shivers to most people. Believe it or not though, having a implant placed is not as bad as you might think.

Here’s how the procedure goes:
1. You are normally sedated. This will either help take away all of your anxiety and make you feel very relaxed or you may actually be put to sleep. Your surgeon will explain which approach they will take.
2. You are then frozen. You will not feel ANYTHING while the procedure is being performed.
3. A incision is made in the tissue so the surgeon can see where the implant has to go.
4. A small “pilot hole” is prepared in the bone with a surgical drill. Then that hole is opened up slightly more by a larger drill. Sometimes the hole may be opened up slightly more again. This gradual process of making the hole(osteotomy) bigger drastically reduces the trauma to the bone.
5. The implant is placed in the prepared hole.
6. Tissue is sutured.

Now… after reading this you may still think that the procedure sounds terribly painful and scary. Here’s the thing… our bones don’t have nearly as many nerve endings as the tissue in our body. Because of this fact there is actually very little pain experienced from the implant being placed in the bone.

Depending on the type of restorative treatment you are undergoing the amount of pain to expect can vary.

Someone who is having implants placed for the All-On-4 or “Teeth In A Day” procedure generally report that there is minimal to no pain the next day after surgery. How is this even possible? Like I had mentioned before the bone doesn’t have many nerve endings in comparison to our tissue so because of this there’s not really any pain associated with the implant being placed in the bone. Our gums on the other hand have many nerve endings, however, with the “Teeth In A Day” procedure the area where in the incision was made to place the implants is covered over by your new teeth. Think of it this way: If you cut yourself on a part of your hand that you’re always using there is normally a little pain associated with it, but not much. It is when you go to use your hand and move it that the pain appears. Pretend now that you held your hand perfectly still. It is not moving and there is nothing poking into it. There will most likely be very little pain because of this. It’s the same thing with the “Teeth In A Day” procedure. The incisions are made, implants placed and then your new teeth are placed overtop of the sites where the incisions were made. You are not chewing on top of the incision, it is not moving and nothing is poking into it. Therefore, there is very little pain experienced.

Someone who has a implant placed to replace a single missing tooth will most likely experience minimal discomfort as well due to the fact that the natural teeth would be taking the brunt of most of the chewing and very little pressure would be exerted on the site where the implant was placed.

For a person who has implants placed to retain a denture there may be a bit more pain experienced. The surgeon will normally instruct you to leave your denture out for approximately two weeks. The reason? Let’s go back to my analogy of the cut on your hand. You’ve cut yourself on your hand(the implants being placed) and now you have something always moving on top of the cut or poking into it(a denture in your mouth that can move). This has the potential to cause pain on tissue that has just recently had a surgical procedure to it. Two weeks is normally the amount of time it takes for the tissue to heal. After two weeks when you insert your denture there is normally very minimal to no pain.

Regardless of what type of implant treatment you have performed I can tell you this: Almost every single patient I have ever treated with implants has said that it hurts less than having a tooth pulled.

Now think back to the last time you had a tooth pulled, if you ever have. You’ll probably look back at it saying “It hurt a bit, but it wasn’t really that bad”. Knowing that implant placement generally hurts less than having a tooth pulled you may get a idea what it’s like.

So don’t let the fear of pain stop you from getting implants placed. They can make a absolute world of difference in how you are able to eat and how you feel about yourself.

If you have any questions about having permanent teeth placed over implants or having implants placed to help retain a denture please contact me and I would be happy to go over the different options available to you.

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Barry has been practicing in Windsor since 2000 and was one of the first Denturists in the Essex county area to perform the All-On-4 or “Teeth In A Day” procedure. His practice is heavily driven by implant treatments.

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