Oftentimes your dental treatment won’t end when you leave our Dentist chair and will require your care and attention. Below are several after-care instructions depending on your treatment.
Our care for your comfort and well being doesn’t end when your procedure does. You’ll receive detailed instructions based upon your specific procedure or treatment. To ensure that you are comfortable and healthy after your procedure we’ll be here to answer any and all questions you might have.
Ultimately, dental after-care instructions are any directives that ensure you’re treating your teeth and gums with great care after a dental procedure. Whether after-care requires taking over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or more serious pain relief pain medications, dental after-care is something any patient needs to take seriously, especially when tooth extraction is involved to insure proper healing.
Below, you can review some of the more common treatments that require after-care instructions.
If ibuprofen was given in the office: take 600mg (three over-the-counter tablets) of ibuprofen three hours after the initial dose, even if the teeth feel comfortable. After the second dose, continue to take three tablets every six hours if any ache is present. This will diminish the inflammation in the tooth that can lead to root canal treatment.
Local anesthetic is used to “temporarily numb a small area of your body.” –Your Guide to Local Anesthetic, Healthline. When used in dental offices, it is used to numb an area of the mouth, and it can last throughout the dental procedure and for a few hours afterwards.
If local anesthetic was used to numb an area of your mouth, avoid drinking hot liquids or chewing vigorously. You could burn or bite yourself without being aware of it.
If gum tissue is sensitive, we recommend a topical anesthetic. Most drugstores carry Orajel Maximum Strength. This is a good topical anesthetic that will relieve the discomfort in the gums better than ibuprofen. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can also help cleanse the area and speed healing of the tissue. This is often suggested after dental procedures as it is gentle and “doesn’t irritate the mucous membranes as a medicinal mouthwash might.” –How Salt Water Rinse Benefits Oral Health, Colgate.
Temporary Dental Fillings
Do not floss around temporary fillings as they are only placed with temporary cement and floss could pull them out of your teeth. Brush normally. Eat normally if comfortable. Some temperature and sweet sensitivity is normal around temporary fillings, crowns and new dental work. Also, some discomfort when biting is normal as your tooth just experienced a type of trauma and needs to heal. However, if the sensitivity continues after two weeks, it could mean the filling is too tall and interfering with your bite. This is a simple fix, and one we perform at no charge, to even out your bite.
Some discomfort is normal the night after work is done and a diminishing amount of discomfort for the next few weeks. If significant discomfort or swelling occurs, please call the office immediately (608-274-9077 or 608-222-3231).
AFTER-CARE INSTRUCTIONS POST EXTRACTIONS
After one or more teeth have been removed, you will want to do all the right things for the area to heal quickly and smoothly. This requires that a blood clot is formed. The blood clot covers the extraction site and allows the area to heal. The tips below help the blood clot to form properly and not become dislodged.
Your bleeding should be mostly stopped by the time you get home. There may be blood present when you spit and your saliva may look bright pink the first day following extractions. If you do require placement of more gauze, be sure it is directly over where the tooth was. Bite down with considerable force. Leave the gauze in place for fifteen minutes. If bleeding has not decreased in 3-4 hours, bite on a dampened tea bag placed directly over the surgical site. The tannic acid in the tea helps the blood to clot.
The best way to prevent infection is to keep your mouth clean. That said, don’t brush for the first 24 hours after extraction. After that, brush your teeth in your usual manner each time after you eat. You can also gently rinse with warm salt water several times a day, beginning no sooner than six hours after surgery. A warm salt water rinse every four hours and after meals flushes out particles of food and debris and helps decrease the chances of an infection developing. AVOID VIGOROUS SWISHING.
Pain is usually the most severe the first day and then diminishes each day thereafter. Pain that goes away after two or three days and then comes back is not normal, especially if you have had wisdom teeth removed. If this happens to you, please call the doctor or oral surgeon who performed the extraction immediately as this is an easy problem for us to treat.
If swelling occurs it is usually the result of the surgical procedure and not from infection. Swelling should begin to go away about the third day following the operation. If you have no swelling for two to three days and then suddenly swell up, or if swelling is still present 5-6 days following the surgery, this may be the development of an infection, and the doctor who performed the extractions should be notified.
You may use an ice pack to reduce swelling, discomfort, and possible bleeding in the first twelve hours after surgery. If you don’t have an ice pack, a Ziploc bag of ice will work, too, or even a frozen bag of peas. Just make sure to have a towel wrapped around what you use, and do not leave it against the skin for more than 15 minutes at a time; you could frostbite your cheeks.
On the day of surgery, keep your diet soft. Starting the day after your surgery, eat as well as you can, even if it means relying entirely on liquids. Do not use a straw as the suction may cause removal of the blood clot, which is crucial to healing. A well-balanced diet is beneficial to rapid healing. AVOID HOT AND SPICY FOODS.
For mild discomfort, use Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). DO NOT take more than 800mg every four to six hours. If medications have been prescribed for you, take them as directed on the label with a full glass of water. Most medications are best taken with food in the stomach, unless specifically told not to do so on the label instructions. Pain medications especially should not be taken on an empty stomach. You should not drink alcohol, drive a motor vehicle, or work around any machinery when taking pain medications.
- Sucking on the wound
- Sucking through a straw
- Exercising, until all bleeding has stopped
- Smoking for at least three days following the extraction
Even with pain medication, expect moderate discomfort, some swelling and some minor oozing of blood in the 24 hours following surgery. If severe pain, swelling, or bleeding occurs, please call our office immediately.
It usually takes gum tissue about 3-4 weeks to heal. The bone can take up to 6 months to heal completely. Pain should be lessening by the second day, but it varies from person to person, and also depends on how easy or difficult the tooth removal was.
A dry socket occurs when the blood clot for healing becomes dislodged or doesn’t form. In that case, the bone and fine nerve endings are not protected and thus exposed to air, food, and liquids. Dry socket is very painful and delays the healing process and can be very painful.
If you suspect dry socket, see your dentist. S/he will place a medicated dressing in the socket which will almost instantly relieve pain. If the area is infected, your dentist may also prescribe a course of antibiotics. The medicated dressing should be changed every day or two at the start, and then at longer intervals. Though some dressings are designed to stay in and dissolve by themselves.
If you follow the suggestions above you’ll minimize your chances of developing dry socket.
AFTER-CARE INSTRUCTIONS POST CROWN
After a crown preparation, some discomfort is normal. Dental work on a tooth is traumatic to the area and needs time to heal and settle down. The body’s response to a procedure is to send blood to the area to help with healing. With respect to teeth the body usually over responds. When you traumatize other areas of your body your tissue can swell, but a tooth is rigid and cannot swell. This can cause discomfort in the tooth that is felt as a dull ache, pain to biting or sensitivity to temperature or sweets. Initially this discomfort is expected and with the use of an anti-inflammatory drug like Ibuprofen or Naproxen the discomfort can be limited (do not take them both). Most of the time this pain will lessen over the time when you have your temporary crown. If the pain does not subside, testing can be done on the tooth to see if a root canal is necessary.
With a temporary crown please avoid anything too hard or sticky, because they may break or dislodge the crown. Please avoid flossing in the area, for this can also remove the temporary. If you must floss, gently clean but pull the floss through the side not back through the contact.
If a temporary comes off
If you can replace the temporary with confidence many times it will stay on if you are careful. You may use some temporary cement from Walgreens if you wish to do it yourself. If you have any concerns please feel free to call and we will recement the temporary. Preferably, during business hours if there is no pain.
If a temporary breaks
Call the office and we will gladly make you a new one.
If your tissue is sore
During a crown prep there is usually some trauma to the surrounding tissue. This usually will heal completely within a couple days, if you wish you can rinse with warm salt water in the area. Also the temporary crown does not adapt to the tissue as well as the permanent crown and might cause a little inflammation.
At the site of injection, for the local anesthetic, there can be some bruising and swelling of the tissue. This can sometimes cause discomfort that lasts for a few days, just like a bruise on any part of your body. This occurs more often when working on lower teeth.
IF YOUR JAW IS SORE
Any dental procedure keeps your mouth open for an extended period and can cause soreness and stiffness in the TMJ and surrounding muscles. If this occurs, avoid foods that cause discomfort chewing or opening your mouth extremely wide. Ice packs can be used along with anti-inflammatory drugs.
AFTER-CARE INSTRUCTIONS AFTER DENTAL FILLING
After a dental filling, some discomfort is normal. Dental work on a tooth is traumatic to the area and needs time to heal and settle down. The body’s response to a procedure is to send blood to the area to help with healing. With respect to teeth the body usually over responds. When you traumatize other areas of your body your tissue can swell, but a tooth is rigid and cannot swell. This can cause discomfort in the tooth that is felt as a dull ache, pain when biting or sensitivity to temperature or sweets.
Initially this discomfort is expected and with the use of an anti-inflammatory drug like Ibuprofen or Naproxen the discomfort can be limited (do not take them both). Usually, this pain will lessen over time. If the pain does not subside, testing can be done on the tooth to see if a root canal is necessary.
White restorations can sometimes have more sensitivity than a silver dental filling. The glue that is used is very good but can be a little traumatic to the tooth. Also, when white fillings are hardened with the UV light they shrink a little, and this can cause some pressure sensitivity. With new products and procedures this sensitivity is much less, but can sometimes occur. Any sensitivity that occurs will most likely go away within a few weeks. However, every tooth is different, what is most important is that the tooth progresses in the right direction. Some teeth are sensitive for a few days, others a few weeks, and rarely a few months.
Some patients may experience what is known as ‘referred pain’ which is “pain or sensitivity in other teeth besides the one that received the filling.” –Dental Health and Tooth Fillings, WebMD. In this instance, there is nothing wrong with the surrounding teeth as the tooth that was worked on is simply sending signals along the nearby nerves.
Any pain that lasts more than 2-3 weeks after any dental procedure should be followed up on with the doctor that performed the procedure. Be sure to contact our office with any questions or to schedule a follow up appointment.
We Care About You
If you have any questions about after-care, please speak with one of our staff members. Regardless of if you are a patient of ours or have never been to our office, we care about you and want to help and hope these tips improve your dental experience.