Q: “I have several gaps in my mouth where teeth used to live. The partial denture I wear now is annoying, and I have heard dental implants could replace it permanently. My problem is I am very uncomfortable with dentists, and dental pain. I’m embarrassed to say I have gone years between appointments because of the bad memories from my childhood. How much pain is involved in implants?”
A: You bring up several issues – but the most important thing is to let you know you’re not alone! In some demographics (largely baby boomers) those who fear anything dental exceed 60%. The reasons are many – and an early unpleasant experience can last a lifetime. It can be a fear of needles, fear of pain itself, fear of choking or “the shot”, the sound of the drill, the smells or just going to the dental office. I have seen a male Olympic calibre gymnast literally tear the arm off a dental chair out of fear as local anesthetic was placed. We call these folks ‘dental phobic’ and our job is to let them know that times have absolutely changed in dentistry. It is not unusual for patients to be so relaxed they actually fall asleep during procedures. Pain is virtually non-existent in most dental procedures these days. This phobia, incidentally, is almost unknown to anyone under 30 unless adults have preconditioned children to expect pain!
Now let’s address pain and implants specifically. In preparing for a dental implant appointment we use oral sedation, I.V. sedation or combination of both to prepare the individual. At the time when the local anesthesia or freezing is placed the sedated individual feels little or nothing and never remembers the numbing experience. Interesting enough the patient is responsive to verbal commands, has all his or her protective reflexes but is unaware of time so the procedure goes by without concern. Because the individual is sedated and “frozen” there is no procedural pain whatsoever.
Now another interesting fact, as it pertains to implant placement and pain, is this – bone itself has no nerves. What this means is that once the implant is tightly secured into the bone it causes no pain, or swelling or inflammation. The only discomfort is due to “tight stitches” and normal healing of the wound. Often when 1 or 2 implants are placed almost no pain occurs post operatively and most say it was easier than having the tooth out in the first place.
Recently as a patient received 6 implants, the husband and son watched in amazement. Afterwards, when asked by her husband about pain, she just shook her head and said it hadn’t bothered her one bit. In fact, we find that the majority of our patients do not even use the pain killing medication we routinely provide them after surgery.
I encourage you to investigate the option of dental implants. We’ll be delighted to show you the technology that deals with your concerns and see if replacing your partial with implants, will work for you.