Post-Op Dental Procedure Instructions
If you’ve undergone a dental procedure and are unsure what to do next, the following online instructions can help. Click to view instructions for specific procedures — including surgical procedures, crowns, fillings and root canals.
With any procedure that requires an anesthetic, PLEASE DO NOT chew or bite with full force until the numbness wears off. This usually takes about four hours. If possible, avoid chewing entirely until you are no longer numb. Children should be observed until the anesthetic wears off. The unfamiliar feeling may cause them to chew their tongue, cheeks or the inside of their lips, causing serious damage.
As always, you are welcome to call Future of Dentistry with any questions about post-operational care.
The following information will help ensure your safety and comfort following an extraction or other surgical procedure.
Activity: After leaving the office, relax for the remainder of the day. If you took a sedative, do not: drive, care for children alone, make serious decisions or operate heavy machinery for at least 8-10 hours. Avoid strenuous activity for 3 days.
Oral hygiene: Do not brush your teeth or rinse your mouth for the rest of the day following your surgery. Beginning the day after the procedure, begin rinsing with your prescription chlorhexidine, or Peridex, oral mouth rinse. It will keep the surgical area clean while it heals. Rinse twice daily for 30 seconds and don’t eat or drink for 1 hour. Brush and floss your other teeth normally, but don’t use an oral irrigating device for 6 months. Do not disturb the surgical area for 1 week; after that, lightly clean the teeth using a very soft toothbrush soaked in warm water or a swab with chlorhexidine. Do not brush tissue grafted areas until your stitches are removed.
Swelling: You may experience swelling the day after the procedure, which may peak at 48-72 hours after surgery. Cold liquids are important to reduce discomfort and bleeding. Sip iced water, tea, frozen yogurt, milkshakes, or similar liquids. Do not use a straw, as the suction can start bleeding. Keep the surgical area cold for the remainder of the day after the surgery. You can also minimize swelling by placing an ice pack over the treated area, on the outside of the face. Continue for 24 hours after surgery, alternating on and off at 20-minute intervals.
Bleeding: Bleeding should be minimal after surgery. If you had gauze in your mouth when you left our offices, it can be removed when you get home. You may have pink discoloration of your saliva for up to 24 hours, but frank bleeding (bright red) is not expected. In the case of bleeding, use a piece of gauze to create a firm compress and place it directly over the bleeding area. Placing a moistened tea bag on the area may be more effective. Teabags contain tannic acid, which contracts blood vessels and promotes blood clot formation.
Eating, drinking and smoking: High-protein, soft food, and liquid is important during the first 3-5 post-op days. Avoid solid, spicy, salty, hot foods and hot or carbonated liquids. Maintaining a nutritious diet of soft foods generally, promotes faster healing with less discomfort. Avoid foods with tomatoes, onions, pepper or spices. If you are comfortable, you can return to solid food after 3-5 days.
Do not spit, smoke, rinse hard, drink through a straw, or create a sucking action with your mouth. Do not drink alcohol for 8 days after your surgery. Do not smoke during the post-surgery period, as it delays wound healing.
Dressing and sutures: If a dressing was placed over the surgical site, try to stay away from it the first few days. If the dressing loosens or falls off, and you experience no increase in discomfort, it’s okay to leave it off. However, disturbing the sutures impairs healing. If you notice a loose or missing suture, it isn’t urgent; contact our offices during regular hours.
Medications: Follow the bottle’s instructions for prescribed medications. In the case of an adverse reaction (nausea, itching, swelling, severe diarrhea), stop the medicine and contact one of our offices immediately.
Discomfort or fever: A slight fever isn’t unusual for a day or so after a simple procedure. Inadequate fluid intake can cause or worsen a fever. if you have a high fever or more pain than can be controlled with your prescriptions, call us. Sensitivity to temperature and sweets is normal and will pass during the healing process. Good plaque control helps with desensitizing. It is also helpful to brush with toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
If bruising occurs, apply a moist warm towel to minimize discoloration. The towel should be applied continuously for as long as tolerable beginning 36 hours after surgery (ice packs are used for the first 36 hours only). A sore throat may also develop; this is normal and should subside within 2-3 days. The corners of the mouth may dry out and crack if stretched. Lips should be kept moist with lip ointment.
NOTIFY OUR OFFICE IF: your medication doesn’t relieve your discomfort; you develop a fever over 99.5F; you experience changes in vision or balance; you have any unusual swelling, uncontrolled bleeding or discharge.
TEMPORARY CROWNS: If you received a temporary crown in preparation for a crown or bridge, keep in mind that temporaries are not strong and neither is the cement used to attach them. Temporary crowns have universal sizes and shapes. Your final restoration will be shaped and matched to your other teeth. The following guidelines will help you care for your crown, which ensures the final restoration will fit.
- Avoid sticky or chewy foods such as certain candies (taffy, caramels, gum) and some bread (bagels, French bread).
- Avoid crunchy, hard foods like corn nuts and popcorn kernels. Do not bite into foods like apples and corn on the cob.
- Rinse your mouth with mouthwash or a warm saltwater to minimize gum inflammation.
- Brush at least three times a day, as acrylic temporaries attract more bacterial plaque than natural teeth.
- Floss once a day, but do so carefully. Don’t pull up on the floss, as it may dislodge the temporary. Instead, pull the floss out from the side of the temporary crown.
- Mild symptoms are normal, including sensitivity to pressure, sensitivity to hot/cold food or drinks, gum soreness and slight discomfort on the tooth/teeth. These should subside after the permanent crown is placed.
- An over-the-counter pain reliever/anti-inflammatory can alleviate discomfort for patients who tolerate such medications.
- Contact our office at 781-780-4276 if discomfort increases, your bite feels uneven, you experience persistent pain, or the temporary crown becomes loose or comes off.
PERMANENT CROWNS: Once the final restoration is complete, it may take a few days to get used to your new crown or bridge.
- Avoid hard, sticky or chewy foods on the restoration for 24 hours, starting from the time it was cemented. This gives the cement time to set, enabling a stronger and more durable restoration.
- Proper brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings are necessary to maintain crown and bridge restorations. Often, small decay problems develop around the restoration. This can be easily corrected if spotted and addressed during the early stages, but delaying may result in the patient needing a new restoration.
- Hot and cold sensitivity is possible for a few weeks, and occasionally for several months.
- Contact our office if your bite doesn’t feel balanced or sensitivity continues long -term.
Your dentist uses a tooth-colored resin, containing small “filler” particles that provide strength and resistance to wear. Our practice uses high-quality, sophisticated materials to ensure these restorations serve you well for several years. The following information will help you adjust to your new filling(s) and ensure the restoration lasts as long as possible.
The occlusion (bite) has already been adjusted, but it may feel different once the anesthetic wears off. Please give yourself time to adjust to the new filling. However, if you feel the bite if not correctly balanced, or it feels “off,” please call for an appointment for a simple adjustment.
Composite fillings set right away. There is no waiting time to eat except for the standard anesthetic recommendations discussed at the top of this page. However, avoid chewing very hard foods on the filled tooth (such as ice, hard candy, raw carrots) to avoid breaking the resin.
Sensitivity to heat and cold is normal after a filling, as is sensitivity to pressure, lasting several days to several weeks. Bigger cavities usually result in longer periods of post-filling sensitivity. Soreness in the gums is not uncommon during the first few days. You may benefit from a sensitivity protection toothpaste like Fluroridex, which is sold in our office, or an over-the-counter sensitivity toothpaste.
Brush and floss regularly once the anesthetic wears off to prevent decay around your fillings. Be sure to use toothpaste with fluoride. Use a prescription fluoride product if you’ve experienced multiple cavities. Avoid whitening products, as they will increase sensitivity.
The extent of the tooth decay may cause the nerve to be exposed and may affect your future treatment. If decay was next to the nerve, your dentist may have placed medication on the exposure site and you may need future endodontic treatment (root canal therapy). If there was a near exposure, medication may have been placed but there is a reduced possibility of future endodontics.
It’s not uncommon for root canal patients to notice tenderness in the affected area. Some have tenderness in the jaw as well, from keeping it open for an extended period of time. These symptoms will pass, and over-the-counter pain relievers may ease them. If you are prescribed narcotic medications, remember that they may make you drowsy, or affect your ability to drive a car or operate dangerous machinery.
Sensitivity to temperature and pressure are typical. Although swelling is not uncommon, it may indicate a problem that requires additional medication, so you should contact us immediately if you notice swelling.
You should also contact our office right away if your bite feels uneven. If your bite feels “high,” it may cause your tooth to stay sensitive for a longer time. The problem is easily addressed with a simple bite adjustment.
Be sure to brush and floss regularly, after the procedure and in general. After a root canal and proper restoration, the treated tooth may last as long as your other teeth — with proper dental hygiene and care.