Sedative restorations are placed for several different reasons. The most common reason is tooth pain. The pain may be constant, intermittent, or a reaction to sweets or a cold or hot stimulus. If the sensitivity is due to decay and it is very deep and close to the nerve, there is the possibility of exposure of the pulp (nerve) once all the decay is removed. If the cavity is especially deep, as much of the decay as possible will be removed, and a medicated, sedative filling will be placed in the tooth. This will serve to calm the nerve and give it a chance to heal. The sedative restoration, if done for this reason, should stay in your mouth for a number of weeks. Then the sedative restoration will be removed and the tooth will be examined to determine the need for further treatment. It may be able to be restored with a filling or cast restoration. However, if the decay was quite deep and the nerve does not heal, endodontic treatment (root canal therapy) will be required to alleviate pain and save the tooth.
If you have multiple large cavities and/or other serious dental problems, we may choose to first restore all the teeth with sedative restorations. This will quickly stabilize all the teeth so that they do not continue to deteriorate from the decay. Then the other, perhaps more serious dental problems, can be addressed and treated. Once you are out of an emergency situation, we will have the time to thoroughly plan the best methods to restore the teeth.
A third use of sedative restoration is an aid in diagnosing sensitive teeth. You may have a problem with a single tooth, or perhaps you are unable to specifically pinpoint the exact tooth. If the tooth (or teeth) already has a restoration in it, we may need to remove the restoration and directly look at the prepared portions of the tooth. If we do not feel that it is appropriate to place a final restoration at that time, we will place a sedative restoration to be in place for a few weeks. Occasionally, the tooth feels better as soon as the sedative restoration is placed. However, it will still be necessary to observe the tooth for a few weeks before placing a final restoration.
Infrequently, the placement of the sedative restoration offers no apparent relief. In this case other possibilities must be explored. Most often the tooth will require endodontic treatment. Other times, it just takes several days to get a positive result. If possible, give the sedative restoration time to work. But under no circumstances must you live in constant pain. Do not be afraid to call and ask to be seen if the sedative restoration does not appear to be effective.
If you have any questions about sedative restorations, please feel free to contact us at any of our three office locations:
Hymeadow: (512) 250-5012
Jollyville: (512) 346-8424
West William Cannon: (512) 445-5721