Is dental implant pain normal? How to tell when you should go back to the dentist

Is dental implant pain normal? How to tell when you should go back to the dentist

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Dental implants have a high rate of success, but there are a range of things that could go wrong. If you have dental implants and are experiencing pain, it could mean that something is amiss.

For the first few days after your implant is inserted, there will be pain ranging from mild to moderate. Over the next few weeks to months, the pain should lessen and then disappear completely. But there may be instances where the pain is a sign that you need to refer back to your dentist.

What’s a normal amount of pain?

Depending on the type of surgery and how high your pain tolerance is, there is a range of ‘normal’. Certainly in the days following surgery, it is expected that you will need an over-the-counter form of pain relief. There will be minor bleeding for the first 24 hours, bruising of the gums and face, swelling in the affected area, and pain. Most patients report mild pain, with only a few people reporting moderate or severe pain. It decreases with time, with pain almost completely gone after one week.[1]


Warning signs of problems

There are some signs that there could be a problem.

Nerve pain from dental implants

If the implant has somehow irritated or damaged a nerve, the pain will be consistent, and not get better with time. Symptoms include:

These pains seem to come from nowhere, and there’s no trigger or cause. If you suspect there is nerve damage, go back to your dentist immediately.

What about throbbing pain after dental implants?

In the first few days after surgery, you can expect some pain. But if you are experiencing throbbing pain in the weeks following or some time after the surgery, then you must contact your dentist. A throbbing pain after implants is a sign of infection. Other signs of infection include:

What’s the treatment for dental implant problems?

There are a range of ways your dentist could address dental implant problems.

For an infection, it may be as simple as prescribing an antibiotic and having a period of time with excellent oral hygiene. However, if the case is more complex and advanced, they may need to remove the implant, clean the implant site, and assess what the appropriate course of action is. This could be another attempt at an implant, or a different strategy.

If there’s nerve pain straight after surgery, the outcomes are good long-term if the implant is removed within 48 hours.[1] Generally, the only relief to nerve pain is removal of the implant, although the dentist may prescribe pain medication.


How to avoid complications

If you are getting tooth implants, you need to follow the orders of your dentist or dental surgeon. There are a number of things you can do to minimise the risk of problems.

The first step is choosing the best surgeon. An inexperienced or poorly qualified dental surgeon may result in problems such as too few implants, nerve damage, iatrogenic trauma or a host of other problems. Always use a dental surgeon who comes highly recommended, has a wealth of experience, and that you feel comfortable with. You can ask them about their experience, and also their success rate. They should also complete a number of imaging processes before the procedure to ensure jaw health, that there’s enough bone, and no nerves will be implicated.

If you are a smoker, at least for a couple of months while the implant heals, you need to quit smoking. It slows the rate of healing, decreasing blood flow and therefore minimising nutrients and oxygen delivery to the surgery site.

You need to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Particularly if you have diabetes or osteoporosis, manage your health well and eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruit, particularly leafy greens. A calcium deficit may require a dietary supplement to ensure correct healing and bone growth.

There are some medications that slow bone growth. Talk to your dentist about this. Some heartburn medications and antidepressants can interfere with the healing process.

But the best thing you can do is follow basic hygiene and post-surgery instructions. Eat soft and warm, not hot, food for the first few days. Be gentle with the surgery site and avoid irritating it. Use the mouthwash/ salt wash exactly as advised by the surgeon. Maintain great oral care, with thorough brushing and flossing, once it is comfortable to do so. If you choose a highly recommended dentist to perform the implant surgery, and then follow all the after care instructions, your likelihood of a successful procedure is high.