I became aware recently that there are still a considerable number of patients avoiding dental implants due to fear. Like most fears, the procedure itself is always much better in reality than it might be in the patient’s imagination.

Some of the fear is due to lack of education about what it is, how it is done, and what to expect following the procedure.

Sedation techniques are always available. Anytime an area is locally numbed, there is no feeling with which to experience any pain. Because there is such a small opening in the tissue, there is very little, if any, post-operative pain. Also, the bone itself has no feeling to start with.

Simply, an implant is delivered through the small opening created by an implant drill. The tissue heals around it initially, and even with just over the counter medications, there is very little pain following.

Sometimes, a second procedure to uncover the implant is needed prior to impression for the final tooth. This requires numbing of the implant area. Either way, with the uncovering or without, the remaining procedures require no numbing.

An impression attachment is placed on the exposed implant and lab records are made. The cover screw goes back on the implant until final delivery.

At the final delivery appointment, the cover screw is removed, and the final attachment and crown are placed, completing the tooth replacement. This entire procedure can take anywhere from five months to a year, depending on the patient’s circumstances.

Like any dental procedure, the hardest part appears to be getting over the fear of the injection. The long-term benefits are undeniable. The short term fear can be overcome with education and, if necessary, some form of sedation.

Remember this acronym when facing fear: FEAR = Facts Enable Advantageous Results.

James G. Jenkins, D.M.D. is the owner of Bluffton Dental Care in Bluffton.