Dental Implants: What You Need to Know
If you are missing teeth and interested in replacing them, chances are that you want them to look, feel, and function like real teeth. For many years, the only options for replacement were dentures or dental bridges. Now, we have another option: dental implants.
Dental implants as we know them were invented by a Swedish orthopedic surgeon in 1952. Today, they are the gold standard of tooth replacement procedures. Dental implants act as artificial tooth roots, providing a stable base for prosthetic teeth.
You can replace a single tooth with a single implant or have several implants placed in your jaw to serve as a base for partial or full-mouth tooth replacement. We do not recommend this option for children under the age of 18, as they are still growing and developing.
At Diamond Dental in Washington, we offer dental implants starting at $2,975. Some dental insurance plans cover a portion of treatment. Our office staff will work with you to determine your coverage. If you do not have adequate coverage or do not have insurance at all, we can help you understand your financial options.
When discussing their options, many of our patients ask about the pain associated with dental implants. This article will explain what you can expect with this dental procedure.
Is dental implant procedure painful?
Dental implants are designed to look, feel, and function more like natural teeth. This is the primary reason this procedure is so popular when it comes to replacing missing teeth.
Still, at Diamond Dental, we do have patients who avoid this procedure or who have concerns regarding pain during the procedure. However, many people compare this procedure to tooth extraction. While there is some pain, it’s manageable.
Before the procedure, we will inject local anesthesia to numb the area. This will help ease the pain. If you need it, we do offer 3 types of sedation to help you relax: inhaled, oral, or IV. After all, we understand that up to 50% of the population avoids dental care due to anxiety.
How painful is the healing period?
Typically, dental implant placement requires several different surgeries over several months. For some patients, some of the steps can be combined, but for others, every step must be done separately. This means that there are several healing periods.
Since this is a fairly extensive surgery, you should expect some pain and discomfort following the procedure. Some other symptoms you may experience following dental implant surgery are:
Bleeding at the surgical site
Swelling around gums/face
For most patients, the pain is most noticeable as the anesthesia wears off. The dentist will give you instructions for managing these symptoms, including:
Rest the day of- and potentially for a few days following- the procedure
Prescription pain medication for the first few days and instructions on the best OTC medications to use
Ice packs to control swelling
Avoiding specific foods, such as hard or hot
Specific instructions for caring for the surgical site
Most patients only need prescription pain medication for 1 to 2 days and pain should completely resolve within 3 to 5 days. The other symptoms should resolve within 7 to 10k days.
Pain that lasts longer than this should be addressed because it could be an indication that there is something wrong, such as:
Improperly fitted implant
If you have pain along with the following symptoms, you should contact the office immediately:
Nausea or vomiting
What if dental implant pain lasts 2 weeks or more?
If you are still dealing with pain 2 weeks following implant surgery, you need to contact the office immediately. This is not typical.
If you have pain for several months or years following surgery, it may be an indication that you are experiencing implant failure. While this procedure does have a 95%+ success rate, there is a small risk of failure. There are some things you can do to prevent failure:
Take all prescribed antibiotics
Practice proper at-home oral care habits
Visit the dentist every 6 months for an exam and cleaning
Should you go for dental implants?
Many American adults are missing one or more teeth. According to the AAP, or American Academy of Periodontology, there are several negative side effects associated with missing teeth, including:
Premature aging due to facial sagging
Difficulty speaking and chewing
Reduced stability of gums and neighboring teeth
Loss of bone density near the site of missing teeth
However, not everyone is a candidate for dental implants. Several factors determine your eligibility, including the following:
Your gums and jawbone play a critical role in the success of your dental implants. The jawbone needs to fuse with the implant through the process of osseointegration. If the bone isn’t healthy enough to secure the implant, failure risk increases. This can potentially be overcome with a bone graft.
Healthy gums are also critical because they provide support and protection for the implant, as well as offer a foundation for the crown to rest. Gum deterioration is an indication of gum disease, which is problematic for patients who want dental implants. In this case, if we can get gum disease under control and prevent future problems, implants may be an option.
Since dental implants require a firm foundation, future changes in the size/shape of the jaw could cause failure. Therefore, we typically recommend against this procedure for patients under the age of 18. This decision is typically made on a case-by-case basis. On the other end of the age spectrum, as long as there are no health risks and the jaw and gums are healthy, there is no upper age limit for dental implants.
Before considering any surgical procedure, it is important to consider any medications that you are taking. Certain medications could interact with the anesthesia used in the procedure.
In addition, pain relievers such as ibuprofen and aspirin increase your risk for excessive bleeding and should be avoided the week before the procedure. If you need a pain reliever, acetaminophen is safe.
Additional Risk Factors
There are certain health conditions and habits that increase your risk of complications including:
There are several advantages of denture implants, including:
- Tobacco and alcohol use
- Recreational drug use
- Parkinson’s disease
- Autoimmune diseases
Psychological issues/other conditions that make it difficult/impossible to follow implant aftercare instructions
Are Dental Implants Worth the Pain?
At Diamond Dental, we believe that dental implants are well worth the temporary pain and discomfort. After all, this tooth replacement solution offers a variety of benefits, including:
Dental implants are a permanent solution- other tooth replacement options such as dentures or bridges may need to be replaced within a few years. Dental implants are inserted into your jawbone and, once osseointegration has taken place, they become a part of you.
Dental implants prevent jawbone deterioration- your tooth roots stimulate the jawbone, keeping it healthy. When you are missing teeth, you no longer have that stimulation, so the jawbone deteriorates. This also prevents your face from sinking in, causing you to look older than you are. Dental implants keep your facial structure, which maintains your youthful appearance.
Dental implants are easy to take care of- since they are inserted into the jawbone and become part of you, dental implants are easy to take care of. Simply brush and floss as usual- and make sure to visit the office every 6 months for an exam and cleaning.
Dental implants improve overall health- patients who are missing teeth often have difficulty chewing hard foods. This means that they typically choose unhealthy, processed food options. Dental implants allow you to maintain a healthy diet, which improves your overall health
If you are interested in exploring dental implants as an option to replace your missing teeth, schedule your consultation with Dr. Senan Najar and the team at Diamond Dental. We will start by examining your mouth and discussing your needs and goals. Then, we will move forward with the necessary procedures
Diamond Dental has two convenient locations: Bellingham and Mount Vernon. Our Bellingham office is open Monday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Tuesday through Thursday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Our Mount Vernon office is open Monday 9:00 AM to 6:00 and Tuesday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.