The Truth About Dental Implants: Separating Fact from Fiction on Pain Perception

dental implants

The popularity of dental implants

Dental implants are a great choice for replacing missing teeth because they look, feel, and work just like real teeth. They give you the confidence to eat, speak, and live life with a natural smile. Dental implants are a long-term solution that provides good value for your oral health. Not much is known about the pain people feel during dental implant surgery because there hasn’t been a lot of research on it. Comparing the pain to other dental surgeries, like tooth extraction, can help patients understand what to expect. It’s important to know that certain factors can make the pain feel stronger after getting dental implants.

What are dental implants? How do they work?

An implant is a dental device, usually made of titanium, that is inserted into the jawbone. It has a post and an abutment, and a crown is placed on top to replace a missing tooth and restore its function and appearance. Dental implants have a high success rate of approximately 95-98% when proper oral hygiene is maintained.

If you have missing teeth and don’t want dentures or a bridge, you can ask your dentist about dental implants. Dental implants are artificial teeth that are attached to your jawbone, giving you a natural replacement. To be a candidate for dental implants, you need to be in good overall health and have healthy gums and a strong jawline to support the implants.

In Australia, there are two types of implant materials that are commonly used and considered safe:

 1- Titanium-based implants: These implants are made of a metal called titanium. They have been used for a long time and are known for their reliability. They are less likely to cause allergies in patients.

2- Zirconia-based implants: These implants are made of a ceramic material called zirconia. They are a newer option and have been introduced as an alternative to titanium implants, specifically for patients who may have allergies to titanium. Zirconia implants provide an alternative solution for those who are sensitive to metal.

Both types of implants are considered biocompatible, meaning they are well-tolerated by the body. Your dentist can help determine which type of implant is suitable for your specific needs and circumstances.

 Implant placement process

The implant placement process involves several steps:

1. The first step is to insert an implant post into the bone.

2. Then, there is a waiting period for the implant to fuse with the surrounding bone. This process is called osseointegration.

3. After osseointegration, an abutment is attached to the implant post.

4. Finally, a crown is placed on the abutment, restoring the function of the missing tooth.

 Pain Perception During Dental Implant Procedure

 Before the procedure, local anaesthesia is administered to ensure a comfortable experience. During the procedure, patients may feel minimal discomfort. Afterwards, mild pain may be experienced for approximately a week, which is normal. The pain should gradually decrease within 3-5 days. Once the implant has fully healed, it should feel comfortable, and patients should be satisfied with the results.

Previous studies have mainly examined pressure pain sensitivity and heat or cold pain threshold before surgery to predict postoperative pain. However, there is conflicting evidence regarding the relationship between preoperative pain thresholds and postoperative pain. Furthermore, there is a positive correlation between anxiety, depression, and both postoperative and chronic pain. Preoperative anxiety also plays a role in acute postoperative pain among children.

Common Myths and Misconceptions

 Dental Implants Take Years and Cause Discomfort

 ·  Although some cases may require extended treatment, standard dental implants typically take a few months and provide a long-lasting solution.

· Patients may experience temporary discomfort during and after the procedure, which can be effectively managed with anaesthesia and over-the-counter pain relief.

 Dental Implants Pose Safety Concerns

 ·  Dental implant success rates are high (98%), and rare failures are often attributed to inexperienced practitioners or unsuitable candidates.

·  With decades of use, there is no substantial evidence indicating long-term health risks associated with dental implants.

 Dental Implants Are Excessively Expensive

 ·  Dental implants involve multiple appointments, surgeries, and customised prosthetics, contributing to their higher cost compared to dentures or bridges.

· Limited insurance coverage for dental implants results in higher out-of-pocket expenses for patients.

Dental Implants Look Artificial

 · Skilled professionals ensure that dental implants have a natural appearance and seamlessly blend with existing teeth.

·  Dental implants offer the most lifelike appearance and functionality, closely resembling natural teeth compared to dentures or bridges.

Can everyone get dental implants?

While dental implants are a popular and effective tooth replacement option, they may not be suitable for everyone. Certain individuals should carefully consider their candidacy for dental implants.

Pregnant women are generally advised to postpone implant surgery until after childbirth to minimise any potential risks to the developing foetus. Similarly, individuals with chronic illnesses or compromised immune systems may have a higher risk of infection during the surgical procedure, which could negatively impact healing and implant success.

Children are typically not considered good candidates for dental implants due to their ongoing jawbone development. The growth of their jawbones may affect the stability and alignment of the implants over time.

People who have a habit of grinding or clenching their teeth, known as bruxism, may put excessive pressure on the implants, leading to potential complications. It’s important to address bruxism before considering dental implants or exploring alternative treatment options.

Ultimately, it’s crucial to consult with a dental professional who can assess your specific circumstances and determine if dental implants are a suitable choice for you. They will consider factors such as overall health, oral health, jawbone density, and lifestyle habits to provide personalised recommendations.

Patient Education and post-op care instructions

Inflammation after surgery can be controlled through infection prevention, minimal tissue manipulation, and the use of anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAIDs or local corticosteroids. Females may perceive more pain than males, and elderly patients often report less pain after dental implant procedures.

Providing comprehensive explanations of the procedure, ensuring profound anaesthesia, and offering pre-operative pain and anxiety medication can contribute to a more positive experience.

Minimising tissue manipulation, utilising cold water irrigation, and precise handling of soft tissues during surgery can help reduce postoperative discomfort. Detailed instructions and accessible support from the dental team are important for successful implant surgery and pain management.