A dental implant is an artificial replacement for a tooth. Because the implant is surgically connected to your jaw, some pain is natural. But if you are like most people, pain doesn't help you focus. While some can take a break to alleviate that pain, not everyone has that luxury.
To understand pain management, knowing how much pain you can expect helps. To help you understand that, we'll give you some information on the causes of pain after a dental implant.
If you decide to pursue a dental implant, you'll find the second half of the article more useful. It provides you with tips on how to manage your pain after the procedure.
How Painful Is Dental Implant Surgery?
Dental implant surgery is not painful at all during the procedure. Instead, the pain comes after the procedure is finished, often lasting up to ten days.
The surgery replaces the roots of your teeth with posts, screws, and a fake tooth. Dental implants can be a strong replacement if alternative methods to improve your smile aren't available. For those who have struggled with ill-fitting dentures, implants might be a better solution.
The pain comes from drilling a hole through your jaw. When your jawline has a hole, the bone needs to heal. This process is known as osseointegration, which heals the artificial tooth like it's part of your jaw.
While your body regrows the bone and flesh that was once there, it experiences some discomfort.
Another form of discomfort is your dental implant cost. Much like any professional oral surgery, you can spend hundreds on a single tooth replacement.
Below, you'll find out a few examples of this discomfort.
Causes Of Throbbing Pain After a Dental Implant Procedure
Getting a new hole in your face isn't pleasant, and your body expresses this with pain. Below, you'll find some of the more common causes of throbbing pain after getting a dental implant.
Incision Line Opening
The first stage of a dental implant procedure is creating an incision line. This line gives the dentist a gap in the gum that they can use to place your implant.
The dentist replaces your tooth's root with a long post. From there, a post extension is screwed to the top, where an artificial tooth is placed on top of the extension.
The gum is expected to heal around the post, much like regular teeth. But sometimes, your gums don't heal correctly, causing them to bleed at the incision line.
An incision line opening like this more often occurs the first few days after a dental implant. After all, your tissue is learning how to form around your teeth.
Still, it might signify that your dentist needs to replace the sutures.
Your dentist might recommend using mouthwash or a similar antiseptic rinse to keep the area sterile. To avoid any bleeding during this, please be sure to drink plenty of water to prevent mouth dryness.
Improperly fitted implant
Professional dentists take detailed measurements to custom-fit the fake tooth to your mouth. This helps them avoid misalignments. But, despite a dentist's best efforts, mistakes can lead to pain and discomfort.
Signs that you might have an improperly fitted implant are felt outside of your implant. Your teeth might unnaturally grind together, or your jaw might sit improperly.
In extreme cases, you might hear a clicking sound when your jaw moves. You should also pay attention to your jaw when chewing. If you feel more discomfort when your jaw moves, that's a sign of an improperly fitted implant.
An improper fitting might also lead to mechanical failures. The fitting could fall out, as it might not have been properly installed. A study reviewing past cases shows these mechanical failures have a fair bit of frequency.
If your jaw and teeth continue to rub together weirdly, this can eventually lead to a chipped tooth. You might also experience more pain and further complications.
A potential thing happening after oral surgery is infection. This happens if something unwanted gets into the newly formed gap in your mouth.
Signs of an infection include swelling, extreme redness, or unusual fluid. You will also experience a fair bit of pain caused by unwanted bacteria.
If you get an infection, you'll likely have to return to your dentist for a cleaning. Your dentist might also prescribe antibacterial mouthwash or provide instructions for you to follow.
Before all of this, your dentist should provide you with instructions to prevent infection. Keeping your mouth clean and regular brushing is usually part of those instructions.
Still, you'll likely want to avoid any specific tooth-related improvements. For example, at-home teeth whitening (and their professional variants) can be great, but they expose your teeth to the potential for more infection.
Sinus or nerve damage
Your jawline holds a good chunk of nerves and is close to your sinuses. With this in mind, drilling nearby where those sinuses and nerves are might lead to damage.
Sinus damage is more likely to happen with upper-teeth implants. Damage occurs to your nasal sinuses, which are very close to the teeth in your upper jaw.
Nerve damage can happen to your bottom and top teeth. Previously, those nerves were connected to the root of your teeth. So, when you get implants, those roots are removed completely.
Dentists will perform an x-ray beforehand to avoid the potential of this happening. With the right prep work, this won't likely happen.
Damage to surrounding teeth
Those with pre-existing dental conditions aren't recommended for dental implants. This is because implant placement can impact the surrounding teeth.
For example, oral surgery can make teeth more sensitive to damage if you have tooth decay. So, if you are high-risk, you won't often be considered for implants.
This is also why you aren't likely to get multiple oral surgeries in a row. Too much strain on the mouth can cause incredible trauma to your teeth, leading to more significant problems.
How to Manage Pain After a Dental Implant
Knowing where your pain can come from is good before getting a dental implant. Knowing what you can do after getting one is also just as important.
Below, you'll find some tips you can use to manage your pain better.
Apply an ice pack to the sore area
The dental implant needs to cut through your gums and bone to be inserted. Because of this, the surrounding tissue will be sore from being put through strain, causing swelling. To reduce this swelling, use an ice pack.
An ice pack has the added benefit of numbing the area while reducing swelling. The double combo makes it incredibly effective for tooth pain. If you've ever gotten a wisdom tooth extraction, you've likely used an ice pack to feel better.
Be picky with the foods you eat
More pain can come to those who make their mouth work after oral surgery. So, to reduce this work, you'll want to eat foods that let your mouth rest. Soft, cold foods that aren't too exciting are a good start.
Soft foods prevent you from needing to chew. When you have a hole in your jaw, any excuse not to move it is a good one. So, stick to eating applesauce, mashed potatoes, low-sugar protein shakes, and similar mush for the first week or two.
You also don't want to eat anything overly hot for your mouth. Coffee, for example, will need to be cooled to be enjoyed. Otherwise, you might burn your mouth and cause further discomfort.
Especially during the early days, you should avoid anything that could irritate wounds trying to heal. Citrus is one example, as the acidic content can irritate your mouth.
Sugar, of course, is something that any dentist will recommend you avoid, regardless of what's happening. But after oral surgery, you should take extra steps to avoid sugar (if you aren't already).
You can also ask your doctor about good food to eat after your dental implant surgery.
Brush and floss a few times per day
A recently cut mouth with a new dental implant experiences more risk when dirty. Because of this, you'll want to put extra care into your cleaning, brushing and flossing a few times daily.
At the bare minimum, you should stick to a daily recommendation of twice per day. However, you might brush once extra to keep your mouth extra clean.
Flossing takes an extra layer of careful consideration after a dental implant.
Flossing might leave tiny shreds behind that lead to peri-implantitis, an infection caused by chewing with too much pressure or getting something stuck (like floss) in your implant.
Usually, with floss, you can push it between your gum line. When relying on this habit with implants, the floss can be caught in the implant's seal. This can lead to infection and an eventual need to replace the implant.
Rinse with warm salt water to relieve pain
Dentists might recommend avoiding mouthwash for the first month after getting a dental implant. Alternatively, you can use warm water and a teaspoon of salt to relieve pain.
You might think that salt water causes harm to the surgical area. This makes sense, as there's an old saying about "adding salt to a wound" and making it hurt.
But your mouth is different from the rest of you. Salt water in your mouth encourages healing and doesn't usually hurt you.
That being said, you can usually go back to using regular mouthwash after a month. Consult your dentist regarding mouthwash to see if they have alternative suggestions.
Salt water is a natural solution for teeth cleaning, but not a replacement for mouthwash. Much like natural teeth whitening, it can be safer, but usually less effective. Check with your doctor about the safety of natural processes you take for your teeth at home to ensure they are safe after a dental implant.
Take your prescribed medication
Pain medication is often prescribed in response to a dental implant. After all, drilling a hole in your face can hurt, excusing some medication use.
Typically, this sort of medication is prescribed in limited doses. This is because it can be easy to get addicted to pain medications.
Pain can also be a natural motivator to take steps toward healing. If you are willing to deal with the pain for a bit, you'll be reminded to take care of your mouth.
You'll likely want to get over-the-counter pain medications to help supplement your medication. Once you run out of prescribed medicines, you might use alternatives to dull the pain.
As always, consult your dentist, especially if considering medications in addition to what's prescribed. Medical professionals know the potential side effects of taking these medications.
How Long Should Discomfort and Pain Last Following a Procedure?
Following a dental implant, your pain can last anywhere from five to ten days. This varies from person to person, so please consult your dentist.
If you replace multiple teeth or have complications, your mouth might take longer to heal. There's no "one size fits all" time frame.
What Should You Do If You Have Dental Implant Pain After Two Weeks?
If you are still experiencing pain after two weeks, that might be a sign you aren't healing correctly. Contact your dentist, who will likely schedule an appointment to check you out.
Your dentist will likely quiz whether you've followed their steps to care for your teeth. If you haven't taken care of your mouth, your dentist might send you back, affirming the need to follow those instructions.
Regardless, the dentist will likely take an opportunity to inspect your mouth. They might spot signs of improper healing, taking further steps based on this information.
What If You Still Have Dental Implant Pain After Two Years?
If your implant has pain several years after the procedure, that signifies a newly introduced problem. This could be a sign of your dental implant failing over time after continuous use.
Think about recent changes that might have caused the random pain. If you got into an accident that might've caused dental trauma, that might be a good connection. Knowing the cause gives your dentist some understanding.
Dental implant pain might also be coming from dental hygiene issues. Not brushing your teeth enough or starting a new smoking habit can lead to complications.
Follow your dentist's instructions if you want to relieve pain from a dental implant. Typically, this means taking your prescribed pain medication, rinsing with salt water, and avoiding anything that might overwork your jaw.
Following your dentist's instructions, you should experience little to no discomfort within ten days. If you still have pain within two weeks, talk to your dentist for further steps.