It is one of the most common concerns for people thinking about having an implant. When carried out by an experienced clinician, most dental implants are very straightforward to place, taking only about ten to fifteen minutes to complete the surgical part of the treatment (though clearly more complex cases may take longer).
The majority of implants are placed under a normal dental local anaesthetic. Although the local anaesthetic injections can sting a little (most of us have experienced dental injections in our mouth at some time), once you are numb, you will not feel anything sharp or painful at all throughout your treatment. You will feel some pressing and pushing during the procedure, as well as some vibration during the drilling stage, but this will not be sharp or painful in any way and your dentist can check to make sure you are completely numb before they start the surgery.
For bigger procedures, such as multiple implants or cases that require large bone grafts, sedation can be provided. Sedation is not a general anaesthetic, but makes patients feel very comfortable and relaxed, and they rarely remember much about the procedure afterwards (an advantage for many nervous patients!)
Obviously, the more training and experience the clinician carrying out your dental implant treatment has, the quicker and more comfortable you are going to be, so make sure you check out your implant surgeon thoroughly before starting treatment.