Your dental questions answered

Some answers to common dental questions can be found on this page, but if you have any questions not found here, please give me a call, or email me via my contact form. I’ll do my best to answer them for you.

I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Dr. Jerry Zanni

Dental Implants

Q: What does a dental implant consist of?
A: A dental implant, in its simplest explanation, is a replacement tooth root. It consists of a post, or implant, which then supports a crown placed on top of the implant.
Dental implants provide a strong foundation for removable or permanent replacement teeth that match your natural teeth, making them the ideal solution for long-term teeth replacement.

Q: Is there an upper age limit to getting dental implants?
A: No, there’s no age limit for anyone who is healthy enough to undergo the treatment. In fact, many people well into their 70s and 80s have had successful results with dental implants.

Q: Do you perform dental implant placement yourself?
A: No, I refer you to a qualified periodontist who places the dental implants. I then prepare the crowns or dentures that fit onto those posts. I also work with the periodontist every step of the way during your dental treatment.

TMJ Disorders

Q: What does TMJ disorder, (or TMD), stand for?
A: TMJ stands for ‘temporomandibular joint,’ and refers to the hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones (located in front of each ear) of your skull. When problems occur with this joint, it can lead to TMJ disorder, or TMD. This term is also commonly used for pain in the jaw muscles, as well as the joint.

Q: What are the symptoms of TMJ disorder (TMD)?
A: If you suffer from TMJ Disorder, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Frequent headaches. Most headaches are caused by muscle tension, generally from a bite problem.
  • Ear pain
  • Limited jaw movement
  • Pain or stiffness in your jaw
  • Difficulty in chewing
  • Jaw pain
  • Uneven bite
  • Occasional locking of the jaw
  • Misalignment of the jaw.

Q: What are the causes of TMJ Disorder?

  • Poor dental work
  • Worn teeth from grinding
  • Trauma to the jaw
  • Arthritis
  • Jaw clenching
  • Stress
  • Bad bite
  • Malocclusion, or misalignment of the teeth when the jaw is closed.

Q: My jaw clicks. Should I worry about it?
A: The answer, in general, is no. Jaw clicking is quite common, and in fact, it is estimated that 30 – 50% of the population have a clicking jaw. No treatment is necessary unless the click changes—becoming louder or more frequent—or it is associated with jaw pain or jaw locking.

Q: How do you diagnose TMJ disorders?
A: First, we schedule a consultation that focuses on your description of your symptoms. We follow with a very thorough examination of your teeth, jaw, face, head, and neck, and we may follow with an Ultrasound to further diagnose the jaw joint itself.

Q: How are TMJ disorders treated?
A: We prefer and use the most conservative and reversible treatment options available. Reversible treatments do not cause permanent changes in the structure or position of the jaw or teeth. A typical treatment approach may include:

  • Identifying the source of pain—muscle, joint, or both
  • Identifying and controlling the causing factors—clenching, grinding, etc.
  • Orthotic splint therapy (this may look like a night guard but is actually totally different)
  • Anti-inflammatories and/or muscle relaxants.

We will tailor your specific treatment plan to your individual needs.

Q: What is Bruxism (grinding and clenching)?
A: ‘Grinding’ is the sliding of the teeth right and left against each other with no food between them.
‘Clenching’ is the locked forcing of the upper teeth against the lower teeth with no side-to-side movement.

Both can cause jaw pain and TMJ issues, destroy your teeth, and cause tooth pain. They can also crack and fracture teeth, and wear them down to ¼ their size.

Q: What other effects can TMJ disorders cause?
A: One of the main effects of clenching is soreness of the muscles in the temple area, which can cause headaches. Patients will often complain of a dull, achy, throbbing headache upon waking in the morning. These “tension headaches” can give rise to a sensation akin to the head being in a ‘vice-like-grip’.


Q: What is Invisalign®?
A: Invisalign® is the virtually invisible way to straighten teeth and achieve the great smile you’ve always wanted. A series of clear aligners are computer generated and custom made for your teeth, and your teeth alone.

You wear each aligner for about two weeks, moving your teeth little by little, before being replaced by the next aligner in the series, and until the final position of your teeth is achieved.

Q: What are the main benefits of Invisalign?
A: Invisalign aligners are practically clear, and there are no unsightly metal bracket or wires. Imagine wearing these virtually invisible “braces!” Invisalign fits seamlessly with your lifestyle and your day-to-day interactions with others.

Invisalign is also removable. You can remove them to eat and drink, and you brush and floss as you normally would.

Q: How do I get started with Invisalign?
A: It’s simple. Just call my office and make an appointment for a free consultation. I’ll then give you more information, and we’ll discuss your options.

Q: How will wearing Invisalign affect my life?
A: Since your office visits during treatment don’t involve metal or wire adjustments, you’ll likely spend less time in my dentist’s chair. You will usually see me about once every four to six weeks. The goal of our visits will be to ensure that your treatment is progressing as planned.

Q: How long will the Invisalign treatment take?
A: The length of time depends on the severity of your case, but about 12 months for adults is fairly average, and you only need to visit our office, on average, every 6 to 8 weeks. This makes it a quick and great solution for many adult patients—those that have not had braces before, and those that had braces as a child, but whose teeth may now need restraightening.

At your initial free consultation, I will be able to better estimate the length of time you will be wearing Invisalign.

Q: Are there restrictions as to what I can eat while in treatment?
A: No. Thanks to the removable nature of the aligners, you can eat and drink whatever you want while in treatment.

Q: Will I need to wear a retainer after my Invisalign treatment?
A: Yes, but you will probably have to wear your clear retainers only at night after treatment is completed.

Q: How long have Invisalign invisible braces been available?
A: The company that makes Invisalign was founded in 1997, and they have a great track record.

Q: How many patients are being treated with Invisalign?
A: More than 3 million patients worldwide have been treated with Invisalign. The number of Invisalign smiles grows daily, and I’d be happy to add your smile to that number!

Nitrous Oxide Sedation dentistry

Q: What is Nitrous Oxide sedation in dentistry?
A: Nitrous Oxide, sometimes called ‘laughing gas,’ is a safe sedative that is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a small mask that fits over your nose. It is an option to help you relax and feel more comfortable during your dentist appointment.

Q: What will I feel with Nitrous Oxide sedation?
A: You may experience warm sensations and tingling in your arms and legs, accompanied by a feeling of well being, euphoria, and/or floating. Ultimately, you should feel calm and comfortable.

Q: Can I drive before and after the appointment with sedation dentistry?
A: Yes, you can. One of the benefits of using Nitrous Oxide sedation is that it can be administered for the exact time it is needed, then switched off when not needed. This will eliminate the gas from your body, and the effect wears off within three to five minutes once the supply is stopped. You can therefore drive yourself to and from your dental appointment without an escort. This makes using Nitrous Oxide an ideal solution for your sedation dentistry.

Q: Is sedation dentistry safe?
A: Nitrous Oxide sedation is 100% safe. It has very few side effects, and it has no ill side effects on the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys or brain. It is also non-addictive when used correctly and produces no known allergic responses. For these reasons, it makes a nearly ideal form of anxiety relief.

Q: Will I be awake or asleep while using Nitrous Oxide?
A: You will be conscious and awake during the time you are being supplied with Nitrous Oxide. You will also be able to hear and respond to a request from your dentist.

Q: How long have you been using Nitrous Oxide Sedation?
A: I have been using it for over 35 years, and I have never charged for this service. This is just one of the many ways I believe in enhancing the comfort of your dental visits.

Q: Will I still need an injection of Novocaine?
A: Yes, but in most cases, receiving Nitrous Oxide first can help you feel relaxed and much more comfortable, so any effect from the Novocaine injection is minimal.

Q: Are there any negative aspects to receiving Nitrous Oxide sedation?
A: Perhaps. If you have difficulty breathing through your nose, breathing Nitrous Oxide through a mask may prove to be difficult, and is therefore not recommended. The same goes for patients that experience claustrophobia.

Otherwise, adverse reactions experienced during the flow of Nitrous Oxide can be reversed with the cessation of the flow, and by switching to pure oxygen.

General, cost, and health insurance questions

Q: Dentists have told me what they think I need, without asking for my input on treatment. How are you different?
A: Communication is key to a successful outcome in cosmetic dentistry. We take the time to listen to any concerns you may have, whether it is cosmetic dentistry, Invisalign, implants, or any other dental issue.

Together, we will customize the treatment that you feel is appropriate for you. Before treatment starts, you will have a clear understanding of what will be done to fulfill your dental needs.

Q: How do you work with patients that are nervous or afraid?
A: Our goal for treating each patient is a comfortable and relaxed visit. We give undivided care and attention to each patient, and to that end, we take the time to listen to you and work to understand your uniqueness as an individual, including your particular needs for dental treatment.

Once we have discussed your needs and desires, we can adapt and customize your dental procedures so you feel comfortable—from the minute you step through our door, to the time you leave.

We use advanced skilled numbing techniques tailored specifically to you, and we also have nitrous oxide sedation and stereo headphones available—all designed to make your dental appointment a more comfortable experience.

Q: Can I just come in to meet you?
A: Certainly! We welcome this, and the appointment is complimentary. We will be prepared for you and happy to take the time to listen. We would also love to hear about your past dentistry, your present concerns, and your future goals.

Q: How do I know my dentistry will look natural?
A: You will always notice unattractive cosmetic dentistry. But excellent cosmetic dentistry will match the beauty of natural teeth, whether it’s crowns, dental bridges or implants, so you won’t notice it at all. That’s what we strive for with our patients every day—a perfect blend of cosmetic dentistry, with the beauty, naturalness, and health of your own teeth.

Q: I keep having dental problems. Can you help me reach a solution so my dentistry is complete?
A: Absolutely! We get to the root of the causes of your dental problems so we can address them in the best way possible. We focus on long-term, proactive solutions, rather than short term ‘quick fix’ treatments, and our patients appreciate the long-lasting solutions we prescribe. That is the hallmark of our quality dental treatment and our commitment to excellence.

Q: What forms of payment do you take?
A: We take check, cash, and credit cards. Since we are sensitive to patients’ personal situations and budgets, we also offer payment plans for your convenience to fit a wide variety of budgets. Treatment can also be phased over time to fit your budget. The time can vary; your quality dental care will not.

Q: Will I know how much my treatment will cost before I start?
A: Certainly. We will not proceed with treatment until you are fully aware of the costs and benefits associated with the treatment you have chosen, and you are comfortable with those costs.

Q: How much will it cost to come to you for a second opinion?
A: The consultation is absolutely free. I would be happy to sit down with you, discuss your concerns, and help you sort through the options available to you. You can also meet the other members of the office team to see if we are all a good fit for each other.

Q: Do you accept my dental insurance?
A: Many of our patients have dental insurance, and we work with most insurance companies. As dental insurance companies try to become more profitable, the patient benefits tend to have more limitations. We are, however, committed to maximizing your benefits, and we welcome working with your dental insurance company to help defray some of the costs of your dental treatment.

As a ‘non-contract’ dentist, we are therefore considered “out-of-network.” However, most dental insurance companies will still pay benefits for your treatment. This may mean the cost is slightly higher, but we believe our quality of care and excellent dentistry is far superior to any cost difference you may encounter.

Snoring & Sleep Apnea

Q: What is sleep apnea?
A: Sleep apnea is a condition in which your sleep is punctuated by shallow breathing, or cessation of breathing altogether, for a short period of time. In more extreme cases, the cessation of breathing can occur hundreds of time during any given night.

Q: What is obstructive sleep apnea?
A: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep due to complete or partial blockage in the airway. Typically, breathing then resumes with a body jerk, snort, or loud gasp.

The most common causes of airway blockage include throat muscles, tongue, tonsils, or soft palate falling back into the throat.

Q: How do I know I have OSA? How is it diagnosed?
A: OSA is typically diagnosed using a polysomnogram or “sleep study.” During a sleep study, a sleep physician monitors brain activity and body system functioning while a patient rests overnight at a sleep clinic. The sleep physician then evaluates the data collected during the sleep study to diagnose sleep disorders and recommend treatment. I work together with sleep physicians to treat OSA with oral appliance therapy.

If you think you may have OSA, you can take the Epworth Sleepiness Scale quiz here to see where you land on the scale. If your result is something you’d like to discuss, I urge you to contact me.

Q: What causes snoring?
A: Snoring is produced when the airflow from your mouth or nose travels to your lungs, making the tissues of the airway vibrate. This is typically caused by a blockage in the nose, mouth, or throat. When you sleep, the throat muscles relax, which then allows the tissues to collapse, producing the snoring sound.

Learn more about my dental services below, or contact me to schedule a free consultation or second opinion today. I’d love to discuss your options with you.

Cosmetic Dentistry  |  TMJ  |  Snoring & Sleep Apnea  |  Invisalign

Be in Touch

Phone: 781-631-2044
Fax: 781-639-0933

(before/after hours)

Our Location:

277 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA 01945

Office Hours:
Tuesday – Friday, 8am – 5pm

Donna Rice
Donna Rice

5 out of 5 stars

posted 2 weeks ago

What a great experience I have had with Dr. Zanni, Ginny, and the team. I had been 'hiding" from the dentist for far longer than I like to admit, and they were amazing. They went out of their way to make it a painless and pleasant experience. They are top notch in my book, and I highly recommend them.

©Jerry A. Zanni, DDS