Category Archives: Oral Surgery

Can TMJ Go Away on its Own?

Do you suffer from jaw pain or difficulty opening and closing your mouth? Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ, might be to blame.

Many patients with TMJ ask the same question: can my TMJ go away on its own?

Causes and Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

The causes of TMJ are varied, and it can be difficult to determine what the specific cause is in any given patient. They include misalignment of the teeth or jaw, jaw or tooth injury, teeth grinding and clenching, arthritis, poor posture, stress, and even excessive gum chewing. TMJ disorder is more common in women than in men

Symptoms of TMJ are jaw pain and tenderness, aching in or around the ear, difficulty chewing or pain while chewing, facial pain and/or the jaw being locked, making it difficult to open or close the mouth. TMJ can also cause jaw clicking, but if there’s no pain associated with the clicking then there’s typically no need to see a doctor for jaw clicking alone.

Temporary Jaw Pain vs. More Serious TMJ

When dealing with jaw pain, it can be helpful to identify the severity of the situation. It’s worth noting that most cases of TMJ are only temporary and do not get worse. If your jaw pain comes and goes throughout the day, can be relieved by over-the-counter pain medication or doesn’t bother you for extended periods, you are likely dealing with a less serious form of temporary TMJ. The good news is that this type of jaw pain can typically be easily managed on your own using these and other self-care practices.

  • Relaxation and stress reduction techniques to reduce teeth clenching
  • Applying ice packs to the affected area
  • Eating soft foods
  • Avoiding extreme jaw movements
  • Gentle jaw stretching
  • Over-the-counter pain medication

Unfortunately, for those with more serious TMJ, these self-care techniques are similar to using a bandaid to treat a deep wound. While the pain may be eased temporarily, the underlying causes and the TMJ itself still remain. Because of the poor likelihood that TMJ will go away on its own, it’s important that you speak to an oral health professional if you suspect you might have TMJ.

Treatment Options

In addition to the treatment options mentioned above, a good place to start when treating TMJ is physical therapy. Do your research and find a therapist with experience in treating TMJ. Acupuncture has also been proven to be helpful in many cases. If further treatment is needed, a dentist might recommend a mouth guard, especially if you grind your teeth.

Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah Can Help

If jaw pain persists despite at-home treatment, it might be time to seek professional advice. TMJ will not likely go away on it’s own, but the board-certified oral surgeons at Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah are experienced in various surgical treatments for TMJ disorders. Schedule a free consultation today! We have offices in Cottonwood Heights, Tooele, and South Jordan.

How a Bad Dental Visit Can Affect Future Visits

Everyone is scared of something, but not all fears are equal. One bad dental visit can be all it takes to develop dentophobia, a fear of the dentist.

Continue reading to learn more about this fear. 

Information on Dentophobia

Phobias fall under the anxiety disorder umbrella because they’re consistent and often irrational. Although it’s normal to feel nervous about dentist appointments, individuals with dentophobia experience dread. Some people with this fear avoid specific procedures, such as root canal treatment. Others tremble the moment they sit on the dentist’s chair. Some patients can’t stand the sight of dental instruments, such as drills and scalers. 

According to WebMD, 9-20 percent of Americans have dental anxiety. So, what causes it? Keep reading to find out. 

Causes of Dental Anxiety

Algophobia: This is the fear of pain, and it’s most common in people over age 65. Pain thresholds vary, and some people can undergo invasive procedures without pain, whereas others may have an adverse reaction to a checkup. 

Trypanophobia: This is the fear of needles, and it’s most common in children. Most adults outgrow this fear as their pain threshold increases. Sadly, some people never outgrow it, and it can impact their oral and general health because they don’t want to receive vital injections; this can result in a higher risk of illness. 

Latrophobia: This is the fear of doctors. People with this fear not only avoid their dentists, but they also refuse to see their general practitioner. They may delay or avoid crucial treatment for life-threatening conditions. 

Emetophobia: This is the fear of vomiting. Many people with dentophobia have this underlying fear because dentists ask them to hold their mouth open for treatment. A person with emetophobia may have a strong gag reflex, so they may worry that their throat muscles will contract during their appointment. 

Trauma: The most common cause of dentophobia (and other phobias) is trauma. Perhaps you went through a bad dental visit when you were a child, and you didn’t know how to cope. 

Effects of Dentophobia

Tooth decay: Plaque is a combination of food particles and bacteria. When you go to the dentist, they will perform a dental cleaning to remove this film. However, people with dentophobia may skip out on these cleanings, and they will need invasive procedures, such as root canal treatment or dental crowns, as a result. 

Gum disease: Untreated tooth decay can result in gum disease. Plaque can spread to the gums, causing swelling and bleeding; this can lead to periodontal disease. 

Teeth stains: Drinking coffee, tea, or wine can stain teeth. Individuals with dentophobia may have tooth discoloration from a lack of professional cleaning. 

Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah is Here for You

Don’t let one bad dental visit prevent you from receiving oral care. At Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah, our board-certified surgeons will prioritize your comfort. We specialize in tooth extraction, dental implant insertion, bone grafting, corrective jaw surgery, and more. 

We have offices in South Jordan, Cottonwood Heights, and Tooele. Schedule your free consultation today

Is Tooth Infection Painful?

A tooth infection often results in dental abscess due to bacteria, which enter chipped, broken, or decaying teeth. 

When bacteria reach the center of your tooth and infect it, pus can accumulate, resulting in a toothache.

Continue reading to learn more about abscessed teeth. 

What Makes Tooth Infection Painful? 

An abscessed tooth can cause mild to severe pain that can radiate to your ears and neck. If left untreated, it can turn into a life-threatening condition. You should visit the emergency room if you have an abscessed tooth and experience the following:

  • Swelling in the face
  • High fever
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Confusion

Learn about the symptoms of dental infection below. 

Symptoms of Tooth Abscess

  • A throbbing, intense pain in the affected tooth or gum that gradually worsens
  • Pain that spreads to your jaw, ear, and neck on the infected tooth or gum side.
  • Pain that increases when you lie down, disturbing your sleep
  • Swelling and redness in the face and neck
  • A discolored, tender, loose tooth
  • Swollen red gums
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold food and drinks
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth or bad breath

In extreme cases, you may find it difficult to fully open your mouth to the point where you can’t talk or swallow. 

How Can I Relieve the Pain?

Most people who suffer from dental infection will need to consult with their dentist or oral surgeon to seek treatment, which may include oral surgery. In the meantime, you can do the following at home:

  • Take painkillers
  • Avoid hot or cold food and drinks
  • Eating soft foods using the opposite side of your mouth
  • Using a soft toothbrush and temporarily stop flossing on the side of the infected tooth

Once you visit your dentist or oral surgeon, they can treat the source of infection by draining out the pus. Depending on the location and severity of the abscess, possible treatments include:

  • Root canal treatment: A procedure to remove the abscess from the root of an infected tooth before filling and sealing it. 
  • Surgically removing an infected tooth through extraction; this may be necessary if you’re ineligible for a root canal. 
  • Incision and drainage: Your oral surgeon may make an incision in your gum to drain the abscess. However, this is only a temporary solution, and you may need to receive additional treatment. 

Your surgeon might numb your mouth using a local anesthetic, which will only affect the treated area. If you’re undergoing a more invasive procedure, they may apply general anesthesia, which will put you to sleep. Although general anesthesia may sound intimidating, some patients prefer it because they would rather be unconscious during surgery. 

Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah Can Help

A tooth infection may start small, but it can impact your daily life as it spreads. The board-certified oral surgeons at Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah specialize in tooth extraction, bone grafting, dental implant insertion, and more. We promise to provide you with the best surgery experience possible while prioritizing your comfort. We have offices in South Jordan, Cottonwood Heights, and Tooele. Schedule your free consultation today

Is Tooth Infection Painful?

Why Do Dentists Use Laughing Gas?

Dentists use laughing gas for a variety of oral surgeries. If you need it for your procedure, it doesn’t mean something is wrong with your teeth.

Are you scared of anesthesia? Let us reassure you that it’s a safe option for most people in today’s blog.

What is Laughing Gas?

You may have seen movies and TV shows where patients uncontrollably laugh when receiving a dose of laughing gas. These portrayals make anesthesia look like a blast! But is this really how it works?

Laughing gas, also known as Nitrous oxide, is an odorless, invisible gas that dentists and oral surgeons use to calm anxious patients. It received its name because of the euphoric state it puts patients in when they inhale it. Professionals administer it using a breathing mask that fits over the patient’s nose. Although this gas doesn’t put patients to sleep, it calms their nervous system.

Discover why dentists and oral surgeons use this mild anesthetic in today’s blog.

Why We Use It

Dentists use laughing gas for most procedures, such as crowns, root canals, fillings, and ones that require them to drill into a patient’s tooth to extract decaying matter. If they didn’t use anesthetics, oral surgery would be painful, even if they did everything correctly.

For instance, root canal treatment is a standard, mild procedure. Oral surgeons remove diseased and inflamed pulp tissue and nerves. You don’t want to experience this uncomfortable sensation, which is why dentists swear by laughing gas.

Nitrous oxide numbs your mouth’s nerves to prevent them from transmitting pain signals to your brain; you won’t be able to interpret oral surgery as painful. After dental surgery, it’s common to feel mild discomfort, which is often the result of needle penetration in your gums or mouth muscles. However, laughing gas protects you from experiencing excruciating pain.

Effects of Nitrous Oxide on Your Brain

For some people, laughing gas isn’t all fun and games. When you inhale this gas, it displaces the air in your lungs and prevents oxygen from reaching your brain and blood. That’s right—oxygen deprivation is what causes you to giggle. Don’t worry; we promise it’s not as scary as it sounds!

It takes less than two minutes for the effects to wear off. You may experience mild side effects under laughing gas, such as confusion and leg pain or numbness. Some patients experience the following:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shivers

If you feel like laughing gas isn’t right for you after learning these side effects, you can ask your dentist or oral surgeon to administer alternative anesthetics. However, you should know that most patients won’t experience them.

Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah is Here for You

Although most oral surgeons and dentists use laughing gas as their primary anesthetic, you have other options, such as topical or local anesthesia. At Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah, our board-certified surgeons will prioritize your needs. We specialize in tooth extraction, dental implant insertion, bone grafting, corrective jaw surgery, and more. We have offices in South Jordan, Cottonwood Heights, and Tooele. Schedule your free consultation today.

How Can I Prevent a Dry Socket After Oral Surgery?

After tooth extraction, a protective blood clot forms over the tooth’s socket. You must prevent dry socket so that your healing isn’t prolonged.

Continue reading to learn about this condition.

Information on Dry Socket

A blood clot protects your bone’s nerve endings after oral surgery. Unfortunately, sometimes the blood clot doesn’t form or becomes dislodged, resulting in bone and nerve exposure. Not only does this condition delay healing, but it’s also painful.

Keep reading to learn about dry socket symptoms, treatment, and prevention.


Feeling discomfort after tooth extraction, such as minor swelling and soreness, is normal. However, if your pain worsens or lingers for more than a week, you may have a dry socket. Symptoms include:

  • Missing blood clot
  • Bad taste
  • Foul smell radiating from the socket
  • Aching or throbbing pain in your gum or jaw, which resembles that of a toothache
  • Pain that spreads to the rest of your face


Your oral surgeon may recommend the following treatment options:

  • Irrigating the extraction site to lift food and debris
  • Using a medicated dressing over the site until it heals
  • Packing the site with zinc oxide-eugenol paste to reduce pain and swelling
  • Prescribing medication, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Advice to Prevent Dry Socket

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), you should avoid the following:

Smoking: Smoking can delay healing and increase blood pressure, leading to more bleeding.

Alcohol: Drinking alcohol—which includes swishing mouthwash—for a day. You may need to avoid consuming any alcohol products for a week, depending on your healing journey. If you drink beer or use mouthwash the same day as your surgery, your blood clot is more likely to dislodge. Alcohol can stimulate extra bleeding, delaying your recovery.

Physical activities: Avoid strenuous activities, such as exercise and heavy lifting, for at least one day after surgery to prevent bleeding and allow blood clot formation. For instance, playing jump rope can dislodge a blood clot that’s still forming, causing pain or infection.

Creating suction: Drinking through a straw creates suction, which can loosen your clot and prolong healing.

Vigorous mouth rinsing: You can still rinse your mouth after oral surgery, but you should gently avoid disturbing your clot. Stick to small swishes and warm water.

Postoperative Care

The best way to care for your tooth extraction site is by following your oral surgeon’s instructions. Specific guidance varies depending on the number of teeth removed, but it often includes the following:

  • Avoid chewing on the side of the extraction site.
  • Eat soft foods to minimize the risk of damaging your socket. Avoid crunchy foods because they can get stuck in the extraction site.
  • Don’t drink hot or carbonated beverages because they can cause a burning sensation in your socket.

Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah Can Help

Even if you follow our advice to prevent dry socket, you might still develop it. The board-certified oral surgeons at Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah can help you experience relief if you develop this condition and answer all your questions. We specialize in tooth extraction, dental implant insertion, bone grafting, and more.

We have offices in South Jordan, Cottonwood Heights, and Tooele. Schedule your free consultation today.

Do All Wisdom Teeth Need Removing?

Patients often ask their dentist or oral surgeon if all four of their wisdom teeth need removing, even if they aren’t causing problems. 

Even if all four of them are free of infection, or if only one of them is causing trouble, an oral surgeon may recommend removing all of them at once. Continue reading to learn more. 

Why Do All Four Wisdom Teeth Need Removing? 

Because of their discrete location at the back of the mouth, these teeth are difficult to keep free of food and plaque, trapping harmful bacteria that can contribute to decay, infection, and gum disease. If your wisdom teeth are underneath your gums, they can still cause problems. 

Discover the benefits of removing all four molars below. 

The Importance of Removing All Four at Once

  • Most oral surgeons find it easier to remove wisdom teeth in younger patients because their molars’ roots aren’t fully developed, surrounding bone is softer, and there’s a lower risk of damaging nerves and other structures. Unfortunately, surgical complications are more common in adult patients. 
  • Removing wisdom teeth in separate appointments is time-consuming, and a patient will need to request more time off from school or work.
  • Each additional procedure requires more days to heal, meaning you will need to restrict your diet multiple times. It will be as if you underwent four separate surgeries. 
  • If you keep some of your molars, you will need to schedule additional visits so that your oral surgeon can perform routine inspections and X-rays. 
  • It will be more expensive to visit your surgeon multiple times for additional tooth extraction surgeries if your remaining molars become painful. 

Risks of Keeping Wisdom Teeth

On rare occasions, keeping all four wisdom teeth is reasonable; however, this decision is up to your oral surgeon. In most cases, keeping them can result in the following:

  • Damage to neighboring teeth
  • Unrestorable cavities
  • Pathologies, such as cysts, abscesses, and tumors
  • Infections and other periodontal diseases 

What Will Happen During My Initial Consultation?

During your first visit, your oral surgeon will take advanced 3D X-rays to determine if your wisdom teeth are impacted and need removal. They will discuss treatment options with you and ask questions about your overall health. If they find that removing all four molars is risky, they will create an appropriate treatment plan for you; however, most people can extract all four teeth at once.

 Many people are scared of oral surgery, so you should address any qualms with your surgeon to accommodate you. For instance, some people have dental phobia and need entertainment options during appointments. Make sure you understand your surgeon’s preoperative and postoperative instructions to minimize complications.

Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah is Here for You

If you’re wondering if all four of your wisdom teeth need removing, you can schedule an appointment with the board-certified oral surgeons at Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah. We will advise you on how to proceed with your surgery. 

We specialize in tooth extraction, corrective jaw surgery, bone grafting, dental implant insertion, and more. We have offices in Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan, and Tooele. Schedule your free consultation today.

Do All Wisdom Teeth Need Removing?