As experienced implant dentists here in Sydney, one of the most popular questions we get is ‘are dental implants painful?’ The immediate answer is no, but there are some caveats that we need to explain.
When discussing dental implant pain, we need to consider two aspects – the implant surgery itself and post-surgical recovery. So let’s take each element in turn.
Firstly, dental implant surgery
Naturally, this is the part that everyone dreads, and if you think about the fact that a metal post (the dental implant) is inserted through the gum and into your jaw, then, in theory, at least, you should feel some discomfort.
In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In most cases, placing dental implants is a pain-free process carried out under local anaesthetic. Many dentists also provide intravenous sedation to assist the process further. Moreover, when implant surgery is computer-guided, like the surgery we provide here, any discomfort is minimised because there is no need to cut the gum. This means that placing a single dental implant can take less than 20 minutes.
So, if you don’t feel dental implant pain during surgery, what do you feel?
Theoretically, you shouldn’t feel anything at all. You may, on occasion, feel some slight pressure but certainly no discomfort. In fact, most people who undergo dental implant surgery are surprised at how quick and painless getting dental implants are.
Like any other surgery, you will need some time to recover but are dental implants painful after surgery?
We mentioned during computer-guided implant surgery that the implant is inserted through the gum and into the bone without the need to cut the gum. Alternatively, in conventional implant surgery, the gum would be cut and peeled back to expose the bone before inserting the dental implant.
So, what does this mean for you regarding dental implant pain?
Recovery using computer-guided digital methods is relatively fast – typically a couple of days because no sutures are necessary.
In contrast, post-surgical recovery after conventional dental implant surgery can take longer.
Even then, any discomfort should disappear within seven to ten days.
So, what will you feel?
Of course, we can’t speak for every case, but you may experience some discomfort in the form of bruising and swelling in and around the cheek area at the implant site. However, this should be quickly controlled using a combination of hot and cold compresses and conventional over-the-counter medications like aspirin or paracetamol.
So, to sum up, you may feel a little discomfort, particularly 1-3 days after dental implant surgery, but by the end of the first week, things should be relatively back to normal
Are dental implants painful during the osseointegration process?
You probably know that osseointegration is a crucial element of the tooth implant process and occurs over a 2-4 month period when remaining bone tissue fuses with the implant to form a stable platform in the mouth. Once stabilised, dental implants are then able to support single dental crowns, dental bridges or even entire arches of replacement teeth in the form of implant-supported dentures. Without this stage of the process, restoring your smile with dental implant rehabilitation could not occur.
So does it hurt?
In a word, no! In fact, patients should be able to carry out their everyday activities, and they won’t even know it’s happening. For this reason, regular check-ups are essential. The dental surgeon will be able to tell you once any dental implants are fully stabilised and are ready to take the tooth restoration.
If you do feel any dental implant pain or discomfort outside of the short recovery period, then it could be something else. Peri-implantitis, for example, happens when bacteria causes an inflammatory reaction in the soft tissues surrounding the dental implant. This can be painful in some cases and should be dealt with immediately. Peri-implantitis can occur weeks, months or even years after implant surgery, so solid oral hygiene practices should remain in place for the life of the implant.
In other cases, discomfort or pain may signify that the dental implant isn’t fusing with the bone properly. Discomfort may be felt when pressing or tapping the implant. Or, indeed, when chewing food. In these instances, your dentist may decide to remove the implant and reattach it at a later time.
So, to sum up…
Dental implants aren’t painful during the surgical process. In fact, you should feel nothing at all. You may, however, feel slight discomfort during the recovery process as the site heals, but not during the all-important process of osseointegration. Typically, within 1-2 weeks after getting dental implants, you should be able to resume most, if not all, activities.
If you experience any pain from dental implants after this point, or discomfort outside of being ‘comfortable’ during the recovery phase, this is not normal and should be dealt with immediately.
Hopefully, we have given a detailed answer to the question ‘are dental implants painful?’ but if you’re curious about undergoing tooth implant rehabilitation and want to learn more, book a consultation with the experienced team at DDSS/DDII.
In addition to being highly experienced implant dentists, we take your safety very seriously. We use hand sanitiser throughout our clinics, notably TGA-approved hand sanitiser that provides rapid disinfection, hand cleansing and protection from pathogens.
Say goodbye to missing teeth and book your smile consultation with us.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
Better Health Vic.Gov – Surgery, Recovery and Rehabilitation
ResearchGate – Timeline for Dental Osseointegration
Science Direct – Definition of Peri-Implantitis – Causes and Effects