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After a dental procedure or oral surgery, it’s important to closely follow post-care instruction to allow full recovery and to prevent additional problems. After your surgery, your doctor or dental assistant will give you full instructions on how to take proper care post-procedure. Because local anesthetic takes time to wear off, you should wait at least two hours to eat, to ensure that you aren’t accidentally doing damage to soft tissue while chewing.
Note: These are general post-care instructions, and should never be used in place of professional dental advice. If you have any questions or concerns post-procedure, contact us immediately.
Root Canal Therapy
Following your root canal treatment, a bit of soreness is completely normal and could continue for several days. After your root canal procedure, be careful to:
- Avoid excessive chewing on the side of the mouth where the root canal was performed.
- Don’t prod or otherwise disturb the procedure site. This can prevent material from setting properly.
- Closely follow post-care medication instructions and finish antibiotics to ensure optimal outcomes.
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience a substantial change in pain level or tenderness, negative reactions/side effects to medications, or notice the filling shift or fall out.
Crowns, Bridges, & Veneers
While some procedures only require one visit, crowns, bridges, and veneers are all exceptions. With these procedures, you’ll receive a short-term fix, which isn’t full-strength or meant to last long-term. As such, it’s important to be careful and gentle when brushing, flossing, and chewing. When cleaning your teeth, brush gently and be careful not to catch any edges of the temporary restoration while flossing. Also, avoid difficult foods like chewing gum, fruit snacks, or other chewy foods. Once your permanent placement is installed, you won’t have to worry about these precautions.
Just like with any other dental procedure, you might experience increased sensitivity and a little discomfort after placement. This is to be expected and shouldn’t cause alarm. Rinsing your mouth with warm (not hot!) salt water can help, and over-the-counter pain relievers are also useful.
Initially, after your procedure, your permanent crown or bridge may feel “strange” as you adjust to the new restoration. However, this sensation should disappear in less than a week, and before you know it, it will feel like your other natural teeth. If your bite feels abnormal in any way, please contact our office. Caring for your permanent bridge, crown, or veneer is just like caring for any other tooth, and you should brush and floss regularly.
After placement of a veneer, you should pay close attention to the area between the veneer and the tooth at the gum line when brushing.
White Fillings (Bonding)
With fillings, you might notice increased sensitivity for a time, so keep away from very cold or hot beverages and food. However, before long this sensitivity should decrease back to normal. Make sure to brush and floss normally to maximize the lifespan of your fillings.
Scaling and Root Planing
This procedure typically irritates the gums, which might continue to feel sore for several days after your treatment. Post-procedure, you need to be careful when cleaning your teeth, brushing softly to prevent further aggravation at the procedure site.
Wash your mouth with warm (not hot!) salt water (1 tsp salt/8 oz water) two to three times per day to relieve irritation and to keep the site clean. You should continue with brushing and flossing after the procedure, but you should brush gently to avoid further irritation. Apply a cold compress to help combat swelling and soreness, or take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
Stay away from sticky and particularly hard foods after your procedure to give your mouth time to fully heal. Contact your dentist if you experience excessive swelling or pain past the first few days.
After an extraction, you will need time to rest and recuperate.
If you receive general anesthesia, you will need someone else to drive you home. Some bleeding at the extraction site is normal for a short time, and you’ll need to periodically change gauze and bandages that become saturated.
Contact your doctor if bleeding continues for more than 24 hours after your procedure. You should rest after your extraction, but be mindful not to lie completely flat. If you do lie flat, it could increase bleeding and prevent proper clotting, but you can prop your head up on a pillow while resting or sleeping. If your doctor prescribes you medication for pain, be careful to take only as directed. A cold compress or ice pack will also help reduce swelling and pain. You might also be given a special cleaning solution, and make sure to follow your after-care instructions closely.
You will be limited to soft foods for a few days after your surgery. Some recommended foods are:
- Ice Cream
- Soups that aren’t too thick
- Jello & pudding
When drinking, you should not use a straw until your extraction site is fully healed. If you do, you run the risk of opening up wounds and slowing natural clotting. Smoking is also very difficult on sutures and can slow the healing process. If your pain lingers or you notice continued bleeding beyond the first few days, contact your doctor.
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Dr. Robert Lloyd Dentistry
American Dental Assoc., North Carolina Dental Society