Are you experiencing pain after dental implants? Depending on how much pain, where it is, and when it happens, this could be a normal part of the healing process or an indication that something is wrong.
While the process of getting dental implants won't cause any pain (thanks to sedation) you can expect some pain, swelling, tenderness, and bruising during the week after your surgery.
After two weeks you should feel pretty much completely back to your normal self. And even before then, any throbbing or excruciating pain should be immediately brought to the attention of your oral surgeon.
In this article we'll cover:
- Swelling after dental implants
- Pain levels after surgery
- How long pain lasts
- When to call the dentist
Table of contents
Some pain after dental implants is normal
Many patients are wary of the dental implant procedure, often because they fear pain while getting the implants placed. It is after all, a bit invasive. An oral surgeon cuts open your gum to expose your bone. They then drill a hole into the bone where the implant will be placed.
But — you will be sedated during all of this, and you won't feel any pain. You might even be completely unconscious, so pain during the implant procedure is something you don't need to worry about.
Afterward, well that's another story. The healing process from dental implants can be painful and is likely to cause discomfort, and certainly tenderness. The good news is you can take painkillers to relieve these unsavory sensations, and the pain experienced is likely to be mild.
You can also expect to experience pain after other stages of the implant process. For example, it's normal to experience some pain if you need to get a tooth extracted. And then you'll also feel some pain after dental implant abutment placement.
How much pain is normal after dental implants?
Some pain and discomfort are normal after dental implant placement. Advanced technology means that the procedure is minimally-invasive, and the actual placement is pain-free.
But once the sedation wears off, you'll start to notice some unpleasant sensations. These include pain, discomfort, inflammation, bruising, and swelling.
It's normal for these sensations to begin to appear as soon as the sedation effects are gone, and by the end of the day of your surgery. You may also experience some bleeding after your implant surgery, but only during the first 24 to 48 hours after treatment.
Dental implant pain after crown placement is less likely, but you may feel pressure in your surrounding teeth. Some people describe the pain as a tightness — not too different from the sensation of getting braces tightened. This discomfort may translate into a bit of pain as well. If you experience a lot of pain after implant crown placement, call your dentist.
In the video below a dentist goes into more detail about gauging your pain level after dental implant surgery.
Types of pain after dental implant placement
There are many different types of pain and discomfort you can experience while your implants are healing.
Throbbing pain after dental implant surgery could be an indication that the incision has opened up. Call your oral surgeon if you experience throbbing pain. They may advise you to come back in, or to rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash and prescribe you antibiotics.
It could also be a sign that the implant isn't fusing to the bone. In this case, you may need to get your dental implant removed and reattached.
Throbbing pain could also be caused by an infection due to bacteria entering the site, preventing the wound from healing properly.
Dental implant pressure pain is normal during the first days after surgery. It might feel a bit like getting your braces tightening. Some report that their dental implant feels tight, but this should subside as your mouth gets used to the prosthetic.
As your implant heals, you may experience a dull aching during the first days after treatment. If this turns into a sharp or throbbing pain, contact your dentist.
If your implant is placed near the back of your mouth, you may feel some ear pain. This is because your oral health is so closely related to ear health that pain in the mouth can affect the ears.
But it may also be due to an infection or another complication. It's best to contact your dentist if you experience ear pain.
Tooth next to implant hurts
If the tooth next to your dental implant hurts, this could be a sign that your implant is a poor fit, affecting how your adjacent teeth are positioned.
It could also be unrelated to your implant — decay or an infection in the adjacent tooth.
Discomfort after crown placement
It's not out of the ordinary to experience discomfort after the crown is placed on the dental implant. It may feel a bit tight, and you may feel some pressure. It shouldn't hurt, as this could indicate a poor fit, or that bacteria has gotten under the crown and caused an infection.
Other types of post-implant pain
Other sensations that patients may feel after getting dental implants include:
- Swelling after dental implants: Swelling after dental implant surgery is normal and should go down after 3 to 5 days.
- Jaw pain after dental implants: Some jaw pain and soreness are normal too — as long as it isn't too strong.
- Tenderness after implants: You'll definitely feel some tenderness in your gums and mouth in general after implant placement.
- Dental implant soreness: Soreness can be expected after surgery and during the healing process.
- Dental implant bruising: Bruising after dental implant placement is not uncommon, and should go away after 3 to 5 days.
Duration of pain, swelling, and discomfort
So just how long can you expect to experience these unpleasant sensations of pain, swelling, bruising, and discomfort? Thankfully, after the first week, you'll be feeling much better. Let's have a closer look at the particulars.
How long does tooth implant pain last?
The pain you experience after implant placement is likely to last for about a week after surgery. Your pain and discomfort will probably be at their worst within 3 to 5 days after the procedure. But after these sensations peak, they will improve quickly.
After the first week, you should feel much better, with little pain or discomfort.
How long does swelling after dental implant placement last?
Any swelling, inflammation, and bruising will be well on its way out the door after the first week of surgery. And your mouth will really begin to feel normal again after 2 weeks have gone by.
It's at this point — between 1 to 2 weeks after surgery — that you won't feel pain, and that you can eat normally again and get back into your more strenuous exercise if that's your thing.
Everyone is different so you may find that you feel better 5 days after treatment, or you may take longer to heal and won't feel quite right again until 2 weeks have passed.
It's important to listen to your body and go easy on yourself during this time. Give your body permission to take its time to heal. Despite the rapid pace and high demands of our society, it's OK to take it easy for a week or 2.
Have a look at the table below for a summary of your expected pain timeline:
Immediately after surgery
3 - 5 days after surgery
1 week after surgery
2 weeks after surgery
Increasing discomfort and pain as your sedation wears off
Pain and discomfort peaks
Pain levels drastically decline
No more serious pain, some tendernous remains
When to call your dentist
Dental implant pain after 3 weeks
You should really feel much better and back to normal after 2 weeks of getting your implants. So pain after those first 2 weeks is a sign that something could be wrong.
Call your dentist and set up an exam. Pain after 2 to 3 weeks is usually caused by an infection. Your dentist will clean the site of the implant and give you antibiotics to get rid of the infection.
Another cause of this pain, although very unlikely, could be because your body is rejecting the implant. This could happen in the case of an undiagnosed allergy to metal.
Dental implant pain after 3 months
If you experience pain after getting dental implants 3 months after your treatment, this could be a sign that something isn't right, and could be due to:
- An infection
- An allergic reaction
- Nerve damage
- An autoimmune disease
If you experience pain months after implant placement, you should contact your dentist ASAP.
Tooth implant pain after 2 years
Dental implant pain after a year or 2 could be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- A loose implant
- Implant failure
- Heavy smoking
- Inadequate bone density (It may be too late for dental implant replacement)
While dental implant surgery is minimally-invasive, and painless in the moment, you are bound to feel some pain during recovery. Pain is a natural part of the healing process, and can be expected during the first week after surgery.
You may notice that your pain peaks 3 to 5 days after surgery, and then it will subside quite quickly. If you experience throbbing or piercing pain at any time during your recovery, you should contact your oral surgeon ASAP.
When can I exercise after implants?
After your implant surgery, you should be ready to get back to exercising in 2 or 3 days, as long as you keep it light. You may resume strenuous exercise 2 weeks after surgery. These are general rules — you should always follow the directions from your oral surgeon.
Why does my dental implant hurt when I chew?
After surgery, avoid chewing on your implant for 2 weeks, as this could complicate recovery and cause pain. If your implant hurts after it's healed, this is a sign that something could be wrong. Contact your dentist.
NIH: Assessment of pain associated with the surgical placement of dental implants. Consulted 7th July 2022.