If you’re looking into dental implants but are concerned about the pain and discomfort that might arise from the procedure, rest easy. Not only are dental implants the most effective way to get the fit, feel, and function of your natural teeth back, when the procedure is performed by an oral & maxillofacial surgeon, getting dental implants placed is no more painful than any other dental procedure.
A dental implant involves placing a small titanium post into the jawbone. The implant will function as an artificial tooth root in your jawbone. After 2-3 months of healing, a prosthetic tooth called a crown (one tooth) or bridge (several teeth in a row) is fitted and secured onto the titanium implant post(s). High-quality crowns and bridges are made of zirconia, a highly durable, natural-looking material that looks and works just like natural teeth.
Given that we’ve talked about surgically opening gum tissue and drilling into the jawbone, it’s understandable that a potential dental implant candidate would ask: are dental implants painful? After all, that’s the big question that looms the largest on most dental implant candidates’ minds, but the good news is that getting dental implants is in fact not painful.
When you have dental implants placed by an oral surgeon, you’ll receive IV sedation anesthesia. You will sleep comfortably through the entire procedure. Only oral surgeons can offer IV sedation because they’re trained and experienced in using this form of anesthesia as part of their formal residency training in the hospital after dental school.
The dental implant procedure itself is straightforward. While you’re asleep under IV anesthesia, your oral surgeon will open an area of gum tissue where the implant is to be placed and drill tiny holes into the jawbone. Small titanium posts are then placed into these holes. These posts work just like natural tooth roots and will become a part of your jawbone during the healing process.
After your jawbone heals, typically a 2-to-3-month process, your oral surgeon will place an artificial tooth called a crown on top of the implant. The dental implant process restores your ability to speak, eat, chew, and smile just like you would with healthy natural teeth. Dental implants also look just like natural teeth—no one but you will know you have dental implants.
How Bad Do Dental Implants Hurt When Performed by different doctors?
When performed by oral surgeons under IV sedation, dental implant procedures are painless. The dental implant procedure itself takes place while you are comfortably asleep under IV sedation.
However, dental implants can be painful when the procedure is performed by non-oral surgeons such as a general dentist, prosthodontist, periodontist, or “implantologist.” The reason for this is that non-oral surgeons are not trained to provide IV sedation and cannot offer it. This means they will have to inject Novocain into your gums and oral tissues periodically throughout the procedure. Without IV sedation, you will also be awake during the whole procedure.
After the initial dental implant surgery, you may experience minor bruising, tenderness, and mild oral discomfort. Over-the-counter analgesics are usually enough to keep this level of pain well controlled. However, if pain should exceed these levels, your oral surgeon can make stronger pain medication available through prescriptions at the pharmacy.
The length of a dental implant procedure depends on the type of office where a person has it done and how many implants are going to be placed. At a dentist’s office, the procedure will take up to 3 hours for a single implant and an entire arch of teeth can take as long as 8 hours. The procedure is so time-consuming at a dentist’s office because they cannot offer IV sedation and must take time out to inject more Novocain into the patient’s mouth and gums
When dental implant surgery is performed by an oral surgeon, a single implant can be placed in less than an hour and an entire arch of teeth can be implanted in less than 3 hours. Oral surgeons are able to complete the dental implant process much more efficiently because they’re able to give clients IV sedation, allowing the dental implant procedure to progress without interruptions, in less than half the time a regular dentist would take.
The Dental Implant Process from Start to Finish
Meeting with your oral surgeon is the first step in getting dental implants. At that time, your oral surgeon will assess your oral health and take detailed digital X-rays and 3D CT scans of your jawbone. These sophisticated scans will help your oral surgeon choose the best sites to implant each titanium post. As well, during this appointment, your oral surgeon will discuss the entire process with you and go over your treatment plan.
Your implant surgery takes place at the next appointment, in which your implants—artificial tooth roots—are placed into the bone tissues of your jaws.
(Here at America’s First Dental Implant Centers, all surgeries are performed under IV sedation so that the patient can have a painless and efficient procedure.)
Before an implant can bear the pressures of biting and chewing, it needs to go through a process called osseointegration. Osseointegration occurs when the dental implant posts become fused into the jawbone, providing the stability and security that no other prosthetic tooth replacement can. This fusion process is similar to a hip or knee replacement healing with your bone.
The healing and osseointegration process take around 3 months, after which the permanent crown or bridge can be placed on the dental implants.
Most people who have dental implant procedures experience mild pain, swelling of the gums, and discomfort for the first 3 to 5 days after the surgery. Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are usually sufficient to alleviate discomfort after dental implant surgery. However, your oral surgeon can prescribe more powerful pain medication in the event it is needed.
How long does the pain last after a dental implant?
Most people experience mild pain and discomfort for 3 to 5 days after dental implant surgery.
Dental Implant FAQ
1. What is the downside of dental implants?
Dental implants return your smile to normal, allow you to eat any food you want without pain, improve your speech, and eliminate jaw pain. They also prevent bone loss in the jawbones. However, there are some potential things to be cautious about when getting dental implants.
- Expense. One potential downside of dental implants is the cost of the procedure. Dental implants have more expensive upfront cost than dentures because it provides a permanent solution. A full arch dental restoration typically cost $25,000 – $40,000 per arch. Our pricing per arch is 40 – 60% + cheaper than the national average, at $14,950 per arch. We set our price to be much lower than other providers in hopes of making dental implants more accessible to the many patients who need them. You can learn more about our Lowest Price Guaranteed here. Accordingly, all dental implant procedures are routine for our experienced oral surgeons and they are able to easily and efficiently perform these surgeries which ultimately demands a lower price to our customers.
- Potentially painful if not performed by an oral surgeon. As mentioned earlier, when dental implant surgery is performed by a dentist or prosthodontist (and other non-oral surgeons), there’s a potential for the procedure to be painful. Dentists cannot provide IV sedation, so they must use topical anesthetic injected into oral tissues, like Novocain. You won’t have this issue at America’s First Dental Implant Centers because we only work with oral surgeons who provide IV sedation. Even if you opt to go to a different provider, we highly recommend that you seek out a qualified oral surgeon.
- Take analgesics. Minor pain after dental implant surgery can be controlled with over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Eat soft foods: Liquids and soft foods, such as soups, yogurt, mashed potatoes, and oatmeal can provide nutrition while preventing irritation of the surgical site. Avoid crunchy, hard, or tough foods.
- Use a cold compress. During the first 48 hours, a cold compress can help reduce pain and swelling. Use it for 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off.
- Limit your physical activity. Avoid exertion for the first 3 days after your dental implant surgery.
- Don’t smoke and don’t use straws. Anything that creates a vacuum, such as smoking or using a straw, can slow or interfere with healing after getting dental implants and increase pain.
3. Why do some offices perform dental implant surgeries with IV sedation anesthesia and others do not?
Dentists are not trained to provide IV sedation anesthesia and thus cannot offer it. Oral surgeons are trained in the administration and use of IV sedation just like other surgical specialties are.
4. Is IV sedation anesthesia safe for dental implant surgeries?
Yes, IV sedation anesthesia is safe for dental implant surgeries when performed by properly trained oral surgeons.
5. What’s the advantage of IV sedation anesthesia to the patient?
IV sedation offers so many benefits to the patient. It takes less time to perform the surgery, which leads to less swelling, less post-surgical pain, better outcomes and fewer complications. With IV sedation, dental implant patients won’t even remember the surgery.
6. What’s the advantage of IV sedation anesthesia to the oral surgeon and staff?
With the patient comfortably asleep, the oral surgeon doesn’t have to interrupt the procedure to repeatedly numb the surgical sites. This allows for a more efficient procedure.