Many people think a root canal is going to be painful and debilitating when, in reality, root canals are similar to having a cavity filled and produce minimal pain. The procedure is simple: a root canal specialist will treat the patient with anesthesia, isolate the tooth and open it to clean out infection and dead pulp, comprehensively clean the entire tooth and reshape the canals before filling it with biocompatible filling material, and then add a temporary cover to protect it while it heals. After a short period of recovery—usually a couple of weeks—you’ll return to the office for a permanent restoration, usually a dental crown. It’s a relatively simple procedure that endodontic dentists perform every day, so you can rest assured that you’re in capable hands.
TMJ—also called “lockjaw”—is simply pain in the temporomandibular, or jaw, joint. Common signs of TMJ include “popping” sounds in the jaw or pain opening or closing your mouth.
We offer a TMJ exam that evaluates the joint tissue in the “hinge” of the jaw. Possible problems include swelling, deterioration of the joint tissue, or damaged joint tissue (which cushions the jaw bones during the opening and closing movement of the mouth). Common pain relievers and cold compresses can provide temporary relief for most cases of TMJ.
For more serious cases of TMJ, we will recommend alternate treatments. Often, we will suggest using a mouth guard to relieve teeth grinding. In some cases, we will instruct you to use orthodontic appliances or retainers to alleviate discomfort or redirect positioning of the TMJ joint. For the most severe cases of TMJ, we may recommend certain invasive procedures.
Sedation is endorsed by the American Dental Association and is an effective way to make many patients comfortable during their dental visit. Before using a sedative or anesthetic, it’s important to tell your dentist about any medications you’re on or medical treatments you’re receiving. Before administering any sedative or anesthetic, your dentist will talk to you about the process of sedation and pre- and post-sedation instructions.
Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as “laughing gas,” is often used as a conscious sedative during a dental visit. The gas is administered with a mixture of oxygen and has a calming effect that helps phobic or anxious patients relax during their dental treatment. Because it is a mild sedative, patients are still conscious and can talk to their dentist during their visit. After treatment, the nitrous is turned off and oxygen is administered for five to 10 minutes to help flush any remaining gas. The effects wear off almost immediately. Nitrous oxide rarely has side effects, although some patients may experience minor nausea and constipation. Your doctor will provide you with pre- and post-sedation instructions.