Do dental implants hurt? Pain during the procedure and after? What happens?
We often receive the query, “do dental implants hurt?” from our patients. It is a common concern for many people thinking about getting dental implants. In case you are missing teeth, implants provide a safe and durable way of getting your teeth back.
The process is long but worth the effort because you get a brand new smile. When we compare implants procedure with other dental procedures, it is invasive because there is an insertion of the implant in the gums replacing a natural tooth. However, given the day and age, we are living, expect the process to be pain-free and smooth due to anesthetics.
The only piece of advice from our panel of dentists is to have patience and commitment. If you discuss your concerns with a qualified dentist at every step, we guarantee you a hassle-free implant journey.
This article aims to answer all your questions regarding pain while getting dental implants:
Do dental implants hurt after the procedure?
There are several misconceptions about dental implant surgery and one of them is that they hurt unbearably. While it is true that implant oral surgery is longer and slightly more invasive than other surgeries, the pain is bearable and subsides within a week or two.
Since you are getting new teeth, it takes time for one to get used to the changes and for the jaw to adjust. However, the pain post-implant surgery is bearable and there are many ways to deal with it including counter pain medications. Here we will tell you what to expect after the procedure and why your implant causes discomfort:
- Pain due to bruising
- Discomfort or pain due to swelling
- Pain accompanied by bleeding
Pain due to bruising
It is very natural for bruising to occur after a surgery and so expect a minor to moderate level of bruising. This is the body’s way of dealing with the trauma naturally. Dentists advise leaving the implant area as it is and not touching it at all for at least 48 hours. This bruising lasts for 2 to 3 days and slowly starts to subside as your implant begins to adjust and heal. On average, the bruising lasts for 4 days maximum and starts to settle down with time. During this period, dentists advise having soft foods so that the bruising does not persist for long.
Discomfort or pain due to swelling
Unlike other dental restorations, an implant replaces the entire tooth down from its root. Since the insertion of the root also takes place, the recovery period is also longer than other procedures. However, the swelling does not last more than a week and with ice packing, it can diminish faster.
Given that you are getting brand new teeth, slight swelling is not that big a price to pay. Overall, it does not take more than a week or two to get past these changes. This period does not require major adjustments and only takes minor changes such as sleeping on the opposite side of your face. Moreover, you can also ice pack on the swelling for faster recovery.
Pain accompanied by bleeding
Since the implants procedure involves opening the gums and inserting tooth-like structures, slight bleeding in the first week is normal. The first 48 hours are crucial because your implants are adjusting in the jaw. The bleeding may cause slight to moderate pain but it is controllable by biting on a gauze. Bleeding is a good sign because it shows that your implants are recovering and adjusting to the jaw. However, if the bleeding persists for more than a week, contact your dentist immediately because it is a sign of an infection.
Do dental implants hurt during the surgery?
The process of dental implants spans on average from three to six months. A standard procedure without tooth extraction and bone grafting takes at least three months. Whereas, if the patient needs extraction and bone graft, the process lengthens and takes over six months or so. So, the process varies from person to person according to their situation. However, modern-day dentistry provides many options for pain management from local anesthesia to numbing creams and even general anesthesia if needed. So, check with your dentist for the options available.
The intensity of the pain differs at each stage so there is no hard and fast rule regarding how you will feel. Here is a general guideline about the dental implant process and how you may feel at each stage:
Preparatory Stage (Extraction or gum opening)
Tooth Extraction: This is the post-evaluation stage where if there is a need, tooth extraction takes place. Tooth extraction may accompany pain because it is an invasive procedure. For minimizing the pain, dentists numb the tooth and gums so you don’t feel the pain that much.
Bone Graft: Tooth loss over time also causes bone loss and it is impossible to get implants without a healthy bone structure. Dentists assess the situation of the bone through X-rays. Since the process requires opening the gums and placing the graft, pain is only natural. Dental professionals make sure you don’t feel a thing during this procedure by completely numbing the gums.
The healing of the bone graft is important so that the implant can be placed. The tooth implant pain and discomfort last the most for the first 3 days and eventually subsides. However, if you are careless about how you are treating the surgical site, there can be more pain and discomfort.
Gum opening: In a regular implant procedure, the first step is to open the gums and place the metal implant. Since it involves opening the gums, high to moderate level of pain is natural. Dentists use local anesthesia at this point to make sure you don’t feel the pain. Insertion of the implant takes place and it is locked with an abutment or post with a temporary crown.
The first week after the surgery is critical for the patient because the gums are sensitive at this stage. Expect mild to moderate levels of pain from time to time, but your dentist gives you a guideline on how to manage the pain at home.
Execution Stage (Implant placement)
After opening the gums, the implant is immediately placed in a simple implant case. The dentist again numbs the gums before placing the implant to make sure the process is not painful. However, mild to moderate level of pain and discomfort is usually quite normal.
In the case of bone graft and tooth extraction, it is made sure that the surgical site is healed fully before placing the implant. It takes at least three months for the graft and extraction site to heal fully. Every person heals according to their pace so there is no hard and fast rule on how early or how fast someone heals.
Final Stage (Healing process)
After the placement of the implant, it is left for at least 2 to 3 months until it fully recovers and adjusts with the rest of the teeth. During the adjustment or healing stage, the first 48 hours to a week, pain or slight discomfort persists. Dentists usually prescribe pain medications so the pain is manageable at home. As per recent studies, analgesics are suitable to manage pain after dental surgery.
Overall, it takes at least 3 weeks for one to get used to the implants and for any complications to show up. However, it is important for you to visit your dentist as soon as the implant heals or if the pain persists for more than 3 weeks.
How long do dental implants hurt?
Ideally, the healing stage of the implants is 3 weeks and within this time your implants fully merge into the jaw bone. In the first 10 days, swelling, bruising, irritation, and bleeding are completely normal but within 2 weeks you can expect any pain to subside. As per research, implants on the upper arch normally take 4 to 6 months to heal whereas, implants on the lower arch need 2 to 4 months.
Patients must go for regular dental check-ups to be sure that the implants are healing properly. Persistent bleeding and pain or swelling after 2 weeks are not normal signs so get in touch with your dentist as soon as possible. Discuss your situation with the dentist before the implant gets infected and causes more trouble.
Is uncovering implants painful?
Leaving the implant after its placement until it heals and merges with the jaw is standard practice. There are two ways of covering the implant. The first one is using sutures and the other one with a metal cap. The healing of the covered implant is crucial to safely uncover the implant and place the crown. The uncovering can be slightly painful but dentists use local anesthesia to numb the gums. After the uncovering, the dentist places the crown and completes the implant. While the implant is covered and left to heal, extra caution is necessary such as not chewing from that side or avoiding hard foods. Doing so prevents any complications leading to implant failure.
FAQs on dental implant pain
Here are the day-to-day queries we receive about dental implant pain and ways to manage it during the healing stage. Again we advise you to be vigilant about your oral care during this time to avoid any complications.
Q: Do dental implants hurt forever?
A: That’s not true. Implants hurt or cause discomfort during the surgery and after the surgery when they are adjusting. Ideally, your implants should not cause any pain and discomfort after 2 weeks and if they do, visit your dentist to find out the underlying cause. Many times, there are bone-related complications and periodontal disease that cause implant failure.
Q: Why does my dental implant hurt after a year?
A: There are plenty of reasons why a dental implant may hurt after a year. The most common reason for it is poor oral hygiene which leads to multiple issues such as decay and gum disease. Other reasons include bruxism, excessive alcohol, smoking, etc. Check with your dentist to be sure of what the problem is and how to effectively solve it. Usually, implants last for 15 to 20 years but how much you take care of them is also an important factor determining their longevity.
Q: Why does my dental implant hurt when I chew?
A: Normally, your implant is not meant to hurt after 2 to 3 weeks but if pain persists, there is an underlying cause for it. There are several reasons why that happens from infection underneath or excessive pressure on the bone. If the bone is receding and the dentist did not address this issue then the implant begins to hurt when you chew. In the beginning, if the implant is bothering you when you chew, it is natural because your implant is in its adjustment phase. Unnecessary pressure on the implant is one of the things dentists ask patients to avoid after a dental procedure.
Q: Do dental implants hurt in cold weather?
A: There is a possibility of your implants hurting in cold weather. There are several reasons why that happens. The first possibility is that your gums have started to recede which causes sensitivity issues. Therefore, if you eat or drink something very cold, there is throbbing pain. In cold weather, excessive brushing may also cause dry gums and because of irritation, they bleed also. In such a situation, hydration is very important because your gums stay moist because of it. To check for any other cause, check with your dentist asap.
Q: When do dental implants stop hurting?
A: Ideally, implants stop hurting and causing discomfort after a week. Any other uncomfortable feeling during the adjustment period subsides within 2 weeks. On average, expect the dental implants to stop bothering you after 2 weeks.
Khouly, I., Braun, R.S., Ordway, M. et al. Post-operative pain management in dental implant surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Clin Oral Invest 25, 2511–2536 (2021).