The number of people getting dental implants is projected to grow by half a million each year. Dental implants are safe, predictable, and successful. However, placing an implant requires an outpatient surgical procedure. As a result, you may question whether you should experience pain.
Four Benefits of Dental Implants?
Advances in dental materials and techniques have made dental implants desirable because of the advantages they offer. Bridges, partials, and dentures remain viable options to replace missing teeth in some cases. However, these do not offer the benefits of implants, such as:
- Preventing jaw deterioration. The roots of your teeth stimulate your jawbone to keep it healthy. After losing a tooth, your body begins resorbing the bone in that area. Dental implants are the only replacement option that prevents this bone loss.
- Maintaining oral hygiene. Dental implants allow you to continue brushing and flossing your teeth without changing your routine.
- Restoring bite force. When you lose a tooth, you lose some ability to bite and chew foods. Restoring this loss of bite force is a significant factor in patients’ satisfaction with dental implants.
- Preserving natural appearance. Other tooth replacement options can improve your esthetics considerably. However, implants can provide superior esthetic results because it replaces a tooth’s root. In addition, your dentist can custom design a crown with all contours of your natural teeth.
What Happens During the Implant Procedure?
Your implant procedure may include additional steps, such as restoring tooth decay or defective restorations in surrounding natural teeth. You may also need a bone grafting procedure if you lack sufficient bone density to support an implant.
For most dental implants, you can expect the following steps as part of your implant procedure:
- Consultation. During the consultation, your needs and possible solutions will be determined. An assessment will also be made to determine if you are a candidate for an implant. During the consultation, your dentist will advise you of any possible risk factors, such as the effect of smoking or certain chronic medical conditions, on the success of your implant.
- Examination. You will receive a comprehensive oral examination that can include a physical exam, X-rays, models of your teeth, a 3D CT scan, and a periodontal evaluation. After agreeing that a dental implant is the preferred option, your implant placement surgery will be scheduled.
- Anesthesia and sedation. You will receive a local dental anesthetic to numb the area of the implant surgery. You may also receive medication to help you relax or sleep during the procedure.
- Tooth extraction. If you need any teeth removed, they will be extracted after you are numb and sedated.
- Surgical incision. Your dentist makes a small incision in the gums to expose the underlying jawbone. The bone is then precisely prepared to receive the implant.
- Implant placement. The dental implant is a screw or post, usually made of titanium. It is placed in the bone to replace the missing tooth’s root.
- Site closure. The gum tissue is repositioned to cover the implant and exposed bone. This helps prevent food from getting trapped under the gum and possibly causing an infection.
Is Implant Surgery Painful?
Profound anesthesia is important to you and your dentist. The local dental anesthetic will numb the gums and jawbone so that you do not feel pain during the procedure. Additionally, any sedation you receive will ensure your comfort throughout the surgery. Your dentist will confirm that you have sufficient anesthesia for the surgical site so that the implant can be placed precisely.
What To Expect After Dental Implant Surgery
After the dental anesthetic and sedation wear off, you may experience one or more of the following:
- Soreness at the surgical site.
- Minor bleeding.
- Slight bruising of the gums and face.
- Swollen gums, jaw, or face.
You will receive post-operative instructions that will help mitigate these symptoms. These may include:
- Not rinsing or spitting for one day.
- Placing cold packs on the surgical site for the first twenty-four hours.
- Taking over-the-counter analgesics, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Using prescription pain medications as prescribed if needed.
- Staying hydrated with plenty of water. (Avoid using a straw.)
- Not smoking.
- Refraining from exercise or any rigorous activity for several days.
- After the first day or two, rinse with warm salt water after eating.
- Eating a soft diet. Avoiding hot beverages.
- Beginning oral hygiene the day following surgery. Brushing your teeth lightly and avoiding spitting.
Is It Normal To Have Pain After Implant Surgery?
The expected post-operative discomfort following implant surgery should peak for most patients in two to three days. After that, your pain should begin to fade quickly, and your mouth will return to normal within about two weeks.
If you notice pain increasing after two to three days, you may be developing a complication, such as:
- Infection. Infections can begin within the first few days after surgery. An infection is usually accompanied by swelling, persistent pain, and draining pus. Other signs that you may have a bacterial infection include fever, redness, and a bad taste in your mouth. An infection is typically treated with antibiotics.
- Edema. If your swelling worsens beyond the minor gum swelling, you might have edema, and excess fluid buildup in tissues of your face, jaw, or neck. You may be prescribed antibiotics and a corticosteroid to treat the edema.
- Hematoma and ecchymosis. If you notice severe bruising in your skin, this is called ecchymosis. It is caused by bleeding into the tissue beneath the skin. This discoloration usually resolves in two to four weeks. A hematoma also appears as severe bruising but is a solid swelling of clotted blood.
- Surgical site opening. If the gum tissue does not remain firmly attached after surgery, the implant and underlying bone become exposed. Treatment of this complication may depend on how extensively the bone is exposed.
- Dental implant rejection. Although this is an infrequent complication, some implants never osseointegrate or fuse to the bone. Signs of this include persistent pain and a loose implant.
If you experience any of the above complications, you should contact your dentist immediately for evaluation and treatment.
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Dental implants can change your smile with a durable solution to missing teeth. To learn more about how you can benefit from dental implants, contact us online or call us.