Many of our patients experience fear and extreme anxiety at the dentist and while we do our best to create a calm and tranquil environment, the fear of pain associated with periodontal treatment may still be a deterrent for some.

Therefore, to answer one of the most commonly asked questions “Is this going to hurt?”, we conducted a study that was published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

Over a period of two years, we enrolled 213 patients requiring either dental implant or grafting surgery.  The average age of the patients that were recruited was 51 years, but ranged from 19-80 years.  Prior to their surgery, patients were asked to rate the amount of pain that they anticipated feeling from No Pain to Worst Pain Imaginable.  For 7 days following their surgery, patients were asked to rate the amount of pain they experienced on the same scale.

When all of the data was analyzed, we found that the actual pain that patients experienced after periodontal surgery was lower than the pain they anticipated feeling.

With these findings, we are now able to provide our patients with an evidence-based answer when they ask us “Is this going to hurt?”  Happily, we are able to put them at ease by sharing with them that in fact, periodontal surgery hurts less than they expect!

Some factors that we found did predict the amount of pain a patient would feel are:

  1. Anticipated Pain – if you expect it to hurt, you’ll report it hurting more
  2. Age – older individuals reported it hurting less
  3. Sedation – those who had their periodontal surgery under sedation with one of our Registered Nurses reported experiencing less pain

Some factors that we found did not predict the amount of pain a patient would feel are:

  1. Nervousness
  2. Gender
  3. Surgery Type (dental implant vs. soft tissue grafting)
  4. Smoking Status

Also collected as part of the study, we found that patients needed only 600mg of Ibuprofen for relief of their post-operative pain and discomfort.  This reinforces Dr. Fritz’s mandate of never prescribing narcotics to any of this patients.

This study was conducted by Jennifer Beaudette as part of her Master’s of Science research through the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at Brock University.  Jen has since completed her M.Sc. and is currently pursuing a Ph.D at Brock University.