Pain after a dental implant procedure is expected. But when does it indicate a complication?
No one likes seeing a gap in their teeth. Fortunately, you have three viable options from which to choose to fill that space. Dentures, bridges, or dental implants all replace missing teeth. Of the three, dental implants offer the strongest, most permanent solution.
Yet dental implant surgery is a complex, multi-step process. As with any significant surgery, you can expect minor pain for a few days. Pain beyond that brief period could indicate complications related to the surgery. Here is how to know if the pain you’re feeling is normal — and when it might not be.
How are dental implants placed?
Before the dental implant is placed, your dentist will thoroughly examine your teeth and gums to determine if they are healthy. An X-ray will show if you have enough bone mass in the jaw to secure the implant. If you don’t, you may need a bone graft before the implant is inserted.
The procedure will not be painful, as you’ll be given either local anesthetic, sedation, or general anesthesia.
As a first step, the dentist will drill a hole into the jawbone and insert a metal post made of titanium. Titanium doesn’t register as a foreign substance, so your body won’t reject it. Over the next six to 12 weeks, the screw will bond with the bone to ensure a snug fit.
Once your tissue heals and the bone is fully fused, your dentist will screw an abutment onto the post. Then, the crown will attach to the abutment, and you’re done! In several months, you’ll have a strong, fully functioning tooth.
So, what about the pain?
It’s normal to feel some minor pain after the procedure. This temporary discomfort should last three to five days and can be managed with over-the-counter or prescription pain medication. Swelling, bruising, and jaw stiffness are normal and should dissipate within seven to 10 days. An ice pack can reduce swelling.
If the pain and discomfort continue for two weeks or more, you should contact your dentist for a follow-up. Although rare, complications can occur after dental implant surgery for the reasons listed below:
Nerve damage. The implant rod may have struck a nerve. Women and younger patients are more likely to suffer nerve damage, characterized by pain when the area is touched or an unusual sensation in the lips. To heal the nerve damage, your dentist may remove the implant and prescribe oral steroids to reduce the inflammation before another implant can be placed.
Peri-implantitis. Peri-implantitis refers to a significant buildup of bacteria around the implant site, leading to chronic inflammation. Signs of the condition include tender, painful gums and bleeding when brushing. If you have peri-implantitis, your dentist will clean the site and advise you to follow up with proper oral hygiene. A severe case of peri-implantitis may require implant removal to prevent bone loss and tissue damage.
Ill-fitting implant. Perhaps the implant wasn’t tightly fused to the bone. If so, a new implant will be re-attached.
Incision-line opens. This is actually a common occurrence after implant surgery! The site will feel painful and irritated, but frequent rinsing with a chlorhexidine mouthwash or taking an antibiotic can prevent an infection.
Infection. Bacteria could enter the surgical site, infect it, and impair healing. Fever, excessive bleeding and swelling, and nausea are indications of a possible infection.
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your dentist within 36 hours. Immediate intervention can lessen the chance of worsening complications. After treatment, your implant will last many, many years.
Do you need an implant?
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Fort Collins location today! Our highly trained dentists will discuss the dental implant procedure and decide if it’s right for you. Don’t live near our Fort Collins, Colorado office? Find one of our other locations near you.
2117 Custer Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80525