To determine the relationship between anticipated pain and actual pain experienced following soft tissue grafting or implant surgery; to identify the factors that predict actual pain experienced and the use of pain medication following soft tissue grafting or implant surgery. Prior to dental implant placement (n = 98) or soft tissue grafting (n = 115) and for seven days following the procedure, patients completed a visual analog scale indicating anticipated or experienced pain, respectively. The use of pain medication and alcohol, and smoking were measured.  Actual pain experienced on day 1 was lower (p < .01) than anticipated pain and continued to decrease (p ≤ .01) for each of the 7 consecutive days. Anticipated and actual pain were positively correlated. Increasing age (p < .05), having sedation during the surgery (p < .05), and lower use of pain pills (p < .01) predicted lower pain experienced. Actual pain experienced was a predictor of pain pill use (p < .01). Greater nervousness (p < .01) prior to surgery was a predictor of greater anticipated pain. Patients anticipated more pain than they actually experienced. Sedation, age and number of pain pills used predicted pain experienced.

Written by: Jennifer Beaudette, Peter C. Fritz, Phillip J. Sullivan, and Wendy E. Ward