Dental Implants – Is The Procedure Painful?

Mike Allen looks at why some patients are deterred from having implants, and why they shouldn’t be.

We have covered in earlier blogs, how beneficial dental implants can be, especially in the longer term. No more fiddling about having to clean dentures, or worries about teeth moving around when you eat or speak.

Despite this though, there are some people who simply can’t entertain the idea of having dental implants placed, ‘because of the pain’. Here at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, we thought that it was about time that we put that right and helped people overcome this unnecessary fear.

How painful are dental implants really?

The most obvious thing to say is that, once the whole treatment process is complete and your implants are settled in, you should feel no discomfort at all. In fact, there is no reason why you shouldn’t just think of them exactly as you do your natural teeth. Almost all of our Burton implant patients say they mostly forget they have implants after a while.

You will, of course, need to look after them, and there are a number of things that can cause problems, including periodontitis and peri-implantitis. With good home care and a six monthly clean by our hygienist (which you should do anyway, implants or not), there is no reason why you should not have strong and healthy dental implants.

What about the procedure?

It appears to be the procedure itself that so many potential implant patients fear, and which may deter them from going ahead with this increasingly popular tooth replacement treatment.

So, what actually happens when we place a dental implant?

First of all, we always make sure that our patients understand the basics of the procedure. This helps them to be aware of what is actually happening at the various stages, rather than guessing and fearing the worst. Once you are sufficiently relaxed, you will be given a local anaesthetic.

Whilst it is true that some people do have a needle phobia, the reality is that this is the only way to have a pain free treatment. Some people think that the discomfort is caused by the injection itself, but, in fact, you barely feel the needle entering the gum. The initial, and very brief, discomfort is felt as the anaesthetic enters the bloodstream. This soon goes though, and very shortly afterwards, that area of your mouth will be numb. We will test this before we start your procedure.

Minor surgery and the jaw bone

In reality, few dental procedure could be described as a pleasant experience. For the best part though, it is usually the fear or anticipation of pain yet to come that is the worst part, and actual pain is very rare. However, you are likely to experience a number of different sensations during any invasive procedure, and dental implant placement is no exception.

The main difference between implant placement and, say, a deep filling, is that the filling takes place in the actual tooth. With an implant placement, there is no tooth, and the procedure predominantly takes place in the supporting bone structure.

Perhaps because we may have seen someone in pain with a broken bone, either in real life or on TV (a footballer for example), we may well think that the part where small holes are drilled into the bone are going to feel the same. With the powerful local anesthetic though, this simply isn’t true.

The details of the drilling

To place a titanium implant, it is necessary to drill a hole into the jaw bone. Before this is done, scans are taken to assess the correct placement and to avoid any nerves in the area. Following this, a pilot drill is used to place a small hole in the bone which then acts as the guide for the main drill. The drills used are very sharp and efficient, which not only helps to speed up the process but also helps to prevent damage to the bone which could result in ‘bone death’ and prevent successful bonding between implant and bone.

As you would expect, during this part of the procedure, you will experience drilling sounds and perhaps a little sensation in the jawbone. This should not be painful though. As stated earlier, it is very often anticipation of pain which never comes which affects most people. Once this part of the procedure is over; for most patients, any anxiety should subside and the dentist can simply place the titanium implant into the hole. This is then allowed to fuse (osseointegrate) with the bone until such a time that a crown can be placed on to it as the final part of the procedure.

We hope that our explanation of this aspect of dental implant placement has helped, even a little, to assuage the anxiety that some patients might have about having dental implants. We are always happy to talk to you in more depth about this procedure for anyone who wants to look at the various options for replacing their missing teeth.

To arrange a tooth implant consultation at Mike Allen’s Dental practice in Burton, please call us on 01283 845345.