If you're preparing to get dental implants, then you're probably wondering do dental implants hurt?
The short answer is that, while getting dental implants involves surgery, you'll be under anesthesia during the procedure, so you shouldn't feel any pain.
That will come as a relief to many, considering that implant surgery involves opening up your gum tissues and drilling metal rods into the bone beneath your gums — this rod is what becomes your new permanent replacement tooth root.
After surgery and during recovery, you're bound to experience some pain and discomfort, but pain meds will help you deal with that.
In this article, we'll talk all about the pain involved during the dental implant procedure, including:
- Are dental implants painful?
- The pain associated with different parts of the procedure
- The type of anesthetic you may receive
- How to manage your fear of dental implants pain
We hope this information helps you feel more confident as you head into your procedure.
Table of contents
Dental implant procedure
The dental implant procedure can be a long process — it's typically not just one day that you go in to get the operation and then you're finished. Even same-day dental implants, also known as implants-in-a-day, require various steps, making the name a bit misleading.
But during the actual process of placing the implant, the implant is inserted into the jaw during a surgical procedure. First, your dentist will open up your gum tissue, and drill a hole into your jawbone. They then place a metal (usually titanium or zirconia) post into the drilled hole. This post will serve as your new artificial tooth root for the rest of your life.
Once the implant is placed, your dentist will stitch up the site to let your implant post integrate with your bone and become part of your body. Once that healing process is done, then it's time to place the abutment on the implant. The abutment is what the dental crown will attach to.
Placing the abutment is not as big of a surgical procedure as placing the implant post, because it only involves your gums. There will likely be some bleeding and afterward some pain and swelling but it will be less than it was after getting the implant placed.
Does getting a tooth implant hurt?
During the actual procedure of placing a tooth implant, you shouldn't experience pain, because you'll be under anesthesia. But there are many aspects that are part of getting dental implants. So let's have a quick look at these now.
Many people who get dental implants need to get a bone graft before they can go ahead with the procedure. That's because tooth roots do a lot of work besides anchoring your tooth.
They also nourish and stabilize the surrounding bone helping to keep it strong. So when those roots are gone, the jawbone begins to lose its density.
That's where a bone graft comes in, to help reinforce the jawbone.
Thankfully, getting a bone graft won't hurt too much. You shouldn't feel pain during the procedure, although the Novocain shot beforehand pinches.
A sinus lift is a common procedure to get before getting dental implants. It's done to push the sinus membrane up and then grafting bone to ensure there is enough bone to support the dental implant post.
But the fear of pain during a sinus lift and dental implant surgery leads many patients to avoid getting it done. It's true that there is a recovery period after a sinus lift, but during the procedure you will have anesthetic and sedation options to ensure you experience minimal discomfort.
Dental implant surgery
The same goes for dental implant surgery as it does for bone grafts and sinus lifts. During the actual procedure, you shouldn't experience pain or much discomfort. It's after surgery and during the recovery process that you're likely to experience some pain.
If you are particularly concerned about this, talk to your dentist about your anesthetic and sedation options.
Placing the abutment
Getting your abutment placed on the implant post is another surgical procedure, but it's much less invasive than the post-placement procedure.
When you get your abutment, your dentist will numb the area around your surgery site, probably will Novocain or something similar. Thus you won't feel any pain during the procedure, just a pinch when the Novocain is applied, and then afterward during recovery, you may have tender gums.
Fitting the crown
Your crown may be attached to your implant abutment either with dental cement or a screw. The process shouldn't hurt although you might feel some discomfort. Ask your dentist about the potential for pain during the procedure and about your options for pain relief.
Teeth implants pain and anesthetics
Most of the time, to eliminate teeth implants procedure pain, dentists use local anesthesia while placing implants. Local anesthesia is just typically an injection into your gums or surrounding tissue that numbs the area. This should be enough to keep implant pain at bay during the procedure.
However, in some cases, dentists may perform the implant procedure with conscious sedation — meaning that the patient is awake for the procedure but calm and relaxed.
It also creates short-term amnesia, so the patient doesn't feel or remember the dental implants procedure pain, but doesn't lose consciousness.
Conscious sedation dentistry can include the use of:
- Nitrous oxide: Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is inhaled through a mask to deliver intense calming effects.
- Oral pills: These can include diazepam and lorazepam, and are taken around an hour before the procedure begins.
- Intravenous sedation: This is the deepest type of sedation available in a dental office, wherein sedative medicine is introduced to the bloodstream via an IV. The patient will most likely fall asleep and not remember the treatment afterward.
In extreme and rare cases, whether your dentist foresees a complicated surgery or the patient experiences intense anxiety, a dentist with special training may use general anesthesia as well, leaving the patient unconscious during the procedure.
The table below summarizes the types of pain relief and their effects:
Type of sedation/anesthetic
Numbs the area
Relaxes the patient
May cause patient to sleep
Leaves patient unconscious
What to do if you experience pain
If your dentist begins your implant procedure and you begin to experience pain, let your dentist know immediately, as this means that something has gone wrong with the anesthesia. But don't worry, this is an extremely unlikely event.
Also, keep in mind that discomfort and pain are different. While you won't feel pain, you may feel pressure or uncomfortable sensations. This is normal but you can always notify your dentist if it becomes too much to handle.
After your surgery, during recovery, you're likely to experience pain. But extreme pain is a sign that something is wrong, potentially even a lesion in the nervous system.
Managing fear of dental implants pain
If you are afraid of getting implant surgery, it's nothing to be ashamed of and there are certain things you can do, including:
- Talk to your dentist about your concerns before your procedure. They will help to reassure you and you'll likely be less afraid if you have more information.
- Talk to your dentist about your anesthesia and sedation options.
- Know what to expect, and research the procedure beforehand.
- Bring reading material to your appointment, so that you can stay distracted beforehand.
- Talk to the staff at the clinic, so they can help you cope with your fears.
- Bring along a good support group — friends or family that comfort you.
- Prepare a reward for afterward, and visualize it when you become anxious.
In the video below, a dentist talks about why you probably won't experience any pain, — and if you do, it will be less pain than with an extraction.
It's normal to worry about upcoming implant surgery, and you're probably wondering — just how painful are dental implants?
But the good news is that you probably won't experience any tooth implants pain during the procedure. Dentists will either use a local anesthetic or in some cases sedation dentistry to help you relax and take away the pain.
If you suffer from severe anxiety about potential pain, make sure to let your dentist know, so you can work together to come up with a solution. In the most extreme cases, specially trained dentists may be able to offer general anesthesia, which means you will be completely unconscious during this restorative dentistry procedure.
Is dental implant surgery painful?
The surgery itself for dental implants is not painful. That's because your dentist will administer anesthesia or sedatives beforehand that will help you relax and take away the pain.
Do dental implants hurt more than tooth extraction?
You won't feel pain during either tooth extraction or a dental implant procedure. Afterward, you're likely to feel some pain and discomfort, but probably less after dental implant placement.
JADA: Implants and Pain. Consulted 23rd May 2022.