Frequently Asked Dental Questions


Is a root canal treatment painful?
Root canal treatment usually involves no more discomfort than a routine filling appointment. In fact, most treatments inside the tooth relieves pain. Stories of painful root canals are passed down from the days before modern techniques and effective anaesthetics (numbing up). During the root canal treatment you shouldn’t experience any pain as the tooth will be anaesthetized. Root canal treatment is done over two to three appointments of one hour each. After the first appointment, the tooth might be slightly tender but the symptoms settle down, and the tenderness usually lasts a day or two. Most patients experience a lot of relief from the tooth ache they initially presented with. Pain killers such as Myprodol, Mybulen, Genpain etc can be used if necessary.
Is the injection painful?
Topical Anaesthesia (or “numbing gel” in dentist-speak) is used to numb your gums or other tissues before an injection, so that you can’t feel the needle glide in. Numbing gel contains an anaesthetic agent, most commonly benzocaine (usually at a concentration of 20%). A cotton swab or q-tip is used to apply a small amount of gel to the injection site.
Is a cleaning painful?
A dental cleaning is a fairly routine procedure that is rarely painful. Those who fear dentists or who have marked tooth sensitivity may feel more discomfort than the average patient. Additionally, people who have not had their teeth cleaned in a long while may expect to experience a longer cleaning, and some extra pulling or scraping to remove plaque from teeth. For most people, however, a dental cleaning is more inconvenient than painful. Most dental cleanings take between 30 minutes to an hour.
Will I have pain after my dental treatment?
This will depend on the specific treatment that you have done. After a cleaning, fillings, crowns etc. you may occasionally experience some sensitivity. After an extraction – some pain and tenderness can be expected as this is part of the healing process


What options do I have for my treatment to be done under sedation and how will I feel afterwards?
Nitrous Oxide is a gas that’s combined with Oxygen to produce a calming effect and a sense of well -being when inhaled. Many dentists use Nitrous Oxide to help a patient relax during dental treatments. When the dental procedure is over, the dentist will have the patient breathe only Oxygen for a few minutes to eliminate the effects of the Nitrous Oxide.
What is conscious sedation?
This is when you are given medication to make you feel drowsy and relaxed, and stop you feeling pain during the dental treatment.
How will I get the medication?
A very small needle will be placed into a vein in your arm and all injections after that will go through this needle… so only one injection!
Will the injection hurt?
If you’re worried about it, a local anaesthetic patch is put onto your arm in the place where you will be injected about an hour before injection is due and you won’t feel anything at all!
Is it safe?
Very safe. You will be able to talk to your doctor all the time and your anaesthetist will be with you during the whole procedure.
Will I have to be careful about eating and drinking?
Yes. This is very important. DO NOT eat solid food for 6 hours before the treatment. You can drink clear fluids such as water, black tea and black coffee (with sugar if required) until 3 hours before treatment. So, if your treatment is in the morning, no breakfast and only have a drink if the procedure is after 9:00 am. If, however, your treatment is in the afternoon, eat breakfast as usual and then only clear fluids until 10:00 am. After that, nothing.
Will I have to change my clothes?
No. Come comfortably dressed in loose-fitting clothes as if this were a normal dentist visit.
Can I come by myself?
Yes, but it is essential that there is someone to take you home afterwards. You may NOT drive yourself home.
Will I be sleepy afterwards?
For about half an hour after the procedure you will feel quite relaxed and probably a little drowsy. Some people wake up immediately and others more slowly.
When may I go home?
As soon as the anaesthetist is happy that the sedation has worn off – usually 20 minutes after treatment.
If I can't drive, what else can't I do?
You shouldn’t drive, drink alcohol or operate machinery – such as power tools until the following morning. You are advised not to sign legal documents for 24 hours. Otherwise, carry on as normal.
Is there anything else I should do?
Yes. Fill in the form for the anaesthetist so that he knows about any medication or medical problems or allergies you may have. Be absolutely honest; this information is confidential and important to the anaesthetist.
What if I have any medical problems?
It is very important that you tell your dentist about any medical problems. Bring all your medicines with you when you come in for treatment. This includes your pumps if you are asthmatic.
Will my medical scheme pay for conscious sedation?
It entirely depends on the policy you have with your Medical Scheme. Please contact them prior to the procedure.
Should I take my normal medications in the morning?
Yes. Take them with a good swallow of water.

You can read more on our Services page regarding sedation options.


Why should I replace my defective metal fillings?
Silver amalgam fillings, which are composed of 50% mercury and 50% silver alloy, eventually need to be replaced. It may surprise you to know that the average life span of a silver filling is five to eight years. Your dentist can tell you when they appear to need to be replaced due to leakage, breakdown or recurrent decay.

If your concern is strictly cosmetic, there are many new methods available to replace the fillings with beautiful, functional long lasting restorations. Options such as white filling materials, porcelain inlays/onlays, crowns and veneers may be used to give you the smile you are seeking.

Why should we restore milk/baby teeth?
Baby teeth that have decay should be repaired to prevent the decay from spreading. Decay can spread, and result in the premature loss of teeth.

Baby teeth should be cared for as they serve the same important purposes as the permanent teeth, and should be kept in place until they are replaced by permanent teeth. They reserve the space for the permanent teeth to grow into. If baby teeth are lost too early, the adjoining teeth can drift into the spaces that are needed for the permanent teeth.

This can then cause crowding problems, because there is insufficient space for the permanent teeth.

How often should I have my teeth cleaned?
A scale and polish should be done every six months as internationally recommended. Certain patients may require a three monthly cleaning.


Why is it necessary to take images?
Images form part of the consultation and may be taken during treatment. The purpose behind the images, is for treatment planning – the dentist can magnify the images to examine the teeth. The images are also used for patient education and treatment plan discussion – so you can understand what’s going on in your mouth and why certain treatment is necessary. Images can also be used for before and after treatment photographs.
How long will I be numb for?
With most anaesthetics, the tooth will be numb for 1-2 hours; your lips and tongue will be numb for 3-5 hours from the time of injection. The numb feeling goes away as the blood flow carries it away from the injection site to be broken down or metabolized. If the dentist permits, taking a walk or being active will make the anaesthetic effects disappear quicker.


What guarantee do I have on my treatment?
Due to the fact that your body may react in various ways to the treatment, there can be no guarantees on the outcome.

You will also have to look after your “new teeth” in just the same way as your natural teeth, in order to prevent infection from spreading or fracturing occurring.


Do you offer payment plans?
We do offer payment plans at our Practice, on certain treatments. You can contact our treatment plan coordinator to discuss various options of payment.
Do you have a card machine?
Yes, we do.
Will my medical aid cover this procedure?
We check on medical aid coverage prior to every appointment for Dr Godfrey’s patients, however it remains the responsibility of the patient to make sure that they have sufficient funds.


Can multiple treatments be done in one visit?
Yes, multiple treatments can be done in one visit. Ideally it is better if dental treatment is only done unilaterally (either on the left or right-hand side) so that you aren’t completely anaesthetized and still able to eat etc. Each procedure has a time frame associated with it so this in turn will determine how much treatment can be carried out according to the appointment.
Can I do my treatment over a longer period of time?
Many patients have to do their treatment over a period of time, this is usually due to financial and time constraints. Treatment needs to be prioritized according to your main complaint, presence of pain, infection and risk if left untreated.
Are you open on Saturdays? Can I be treated in my lunch breaks?
Gateway Dental is open Monday – Thursday 8am to 6pm, Fridays 8am – 5pm and Saturdays 8am – 1pm. Many patients prefer a Saturday appointments, so it is important to book well in advance. Appointments are made according to your convenience so we will try our best to accommodate you in your lunch break.
How long will my procedure take?

  • Each procedure has a different time frame
  • Root canals generally are 1 hour appointments
  • Bridges and crowns approximately 2.5 hours
  • Cleanings are 30-45 mins
  • Consultations are 30 mins
  • When your appointment is made, the receptionist will specify the time the dentist requires for this procedure.

What happens if I miss my appointment?
In order to ensure that we accommodate emergency patients on a daily basis we do charge a cancellation fee for appointments cancelled less than 48hrs in advance. Kindly contact the Practice via telephone should you not be able to make your appointment.
What are dental sealants, who should get them, and how long do they last?
Sealants are a thin, plastic coating that is painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth – usually the back teeth (the premolars, and molars) – to prevent tooth decay. The painted-on liquid sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and groves of the teeth forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth. Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the dental sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants. Sealants can protect the teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wear at regular dental check-ups.


Is your practice child-friendly? From what age should I bring my child to the dentist?
Our practice has a specific dentist that treats children. From the age of one year you should bring your child for their first dental check-up. The importance of this visit is to introduce your child to the environment and interact with the dentist. Children are more co-operative to have treatment done in the chair when their first experience isn’t painful. The practice also has nitrous oxide (laughing) gas which assists in the management of children.


Where can I park when I come for my appointment?
There is undercover parking available within the Ridgeton Towers building. Drive directly to the boom gate and advise the guards that you are coming to the dentist. Stay on the ground level and follow the parking to the right – you will then find ample parking available on your left-hand side.


How safe are dental X-rays?
Exposure to all sources of radiation — including the sun, minerals in the soil, appliances in your home, and dental X-rays — can damage the body’s tissues and cells and can lead to the development of cancer in some instances. Fortunately, the dose of radiation you are exposed to during the taking of X-rays is extremely small.

Advances in dentistry over the years have led to the low radiation levels emitted by today’s X-rays. Some of the improvements are new digital X-ray machines that limit the radiation beam to the small area being X-rayed, higher speed X-ray films that require shorter exposure time compared with older film speeds to get the same results, and the use of film holders that keep the film in place in the mouth (which prevents the film from slipping and the need for repeat X-rays and additional radiation exposure). Also, the use of lead-lined aprons protects the body from stray radiation (though this is almost non-existent with the modern dental X-ray machines.