TMJ, or Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, is a joint disorder that affects 35 million people in the United States. Possibly a chronic condition, TMJ is defined by pain in the jaw, ear, or mouth and may result in a toothache, migraine, or muscle spasms. TMJ treatment is possible with over the counter medication or at a TMJ center wherein one may obtain a mouth guard, splint, or physical therapy.
However, in some cases, such as when your TMJ may be caused by misaligned teeth, proper facial pain management can only be found with a dentist. This may be a problem for those not only with chronic TMJ but with a chronic phobia of dentistry. Luckily, sedation dentistry can be used in regards to fear of the dentist in order to manage your TMJ.
What is sedation dentistry?
Sedation dentistry utilizes medication to relax and sedate patients to make them less anxious in the dentist chair. However, unlike those under general anesthesia, patients under sedation dentistry are still awake.
What kind of sedation is offered to me?
Unless you’re undergoing surgery, most dentists utilize minimal or moderate sedation in the form of a pill or laughing gas. Laughing gas is often used during the removal of wisdom teeth and is characterized as the inhalation of nitrous oxide and oxygen through the nose in the form of a mask.
Another common form of sedation is Halcion in the form of a pill. The patient takes the pill an hour before the dentist appointment and generally renders the patient drowsy, but awake. Patients who undergo this type of sedation dentistry are unable to drive home after the appointment because of the likelihood of them falling asleep at the wheel.
What if I suffer from sleep apnea?
For those with obstructive sleep apnea, talk to your doctor before you undergo sedation at your dentist’s office. While sedation dentistry that utilizes minimal sedation does not use general anesthesia, it may still affect any possible complications.
If you’re suffering from chronic TMJ but are too anxious to seek dental treatment for your jaw, consider sedation dentistry as a viable option to reduce your stress and increase your chances of seeking treatment.