Home Care Instructions to Be Followed After Your Procedure
While home care instructions don’t necessarily apply after all minor procedures, it’s important that you take all appropriate steps to make sure your recovery proceeds smoothly after your visit to our facility. Following the instructions included here is not difficult and should ensure you have no problems recovering from your dental procedure.
Care at Home Following Either Composite or Amalgam Fillings
Since you will normally be given some sort of anesthetic to minimize any pain during your procedure, it’s normal for your lips and tongue to feel numb for some time after leaving our office. Until that numbness wears off, it’s important to avoid chewing, especially hard foods or drinking hot liquids. It’s easy to injure your mouth when you lack the feeling to properly react to heat or other sensations, so try to avoid putting yourself at risk. Water is certainly acceptable to drink, but use caution when eating anything, as it’s very easy to bite the inside of your mouth during this time.
With composite fillings, it’s perfectly okay to chew as soon as the anesthetic wears off, as the fillings set quickly. However, with amalgam (silver) fillings, we strongly recommend you not chew anything for an hour or two after leaving our office to allow the material to fully set.
If there is any discomfort after the anesthetic wears off, over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to ease the pain. In most cases, any discomfort will quickly wear off and should be completely gone within a couple of days. If the pain doesn’t diminish quickly, it’s always a good idea to call our office and discuss what’s happening with our team.
Care After a Tooth Extraction
Bleeding is always a concern after a tooth is extracted, so biting on a gauze pad for at least 30-45 minutes after leaving the office will be necessary. If the bleeding hasn’t stopped at that point, continue using the gauze pads until clotting develops and the bleeding subsides. It’s crucial that the site has an adequate opportunity to heal properly, so take every precaution to ensure the clot isn’t disturbed.
As a rule, stay away from using straws, smoking, drinking alcohol, and brushing the teeth adjacent to the extraction site for at least 72 hours. It’s also important to avoid strenuous exercise for the first couple of days following an extraction, as heavy exercise tends to elevate your blood pressure, which will make it more difficult for the site to heal. If you have any questions about the advisability of engaging in specific activities, we’re here to offer our advice.
Of course, there is some pain associated with any extraction, so expect to use some type of pain medication for the first day or two following the procedure. Antibiotics will typically be prescribed to eliminate any infection at the site. We also strongly recommend you focus on eating healthy foods on the day of the extraction. While you may not feel like eating for a couple of hours, don’t ignore your normal dietary needs even on the day of the procedure. If your pain levels don’t diminish or the bleeding persists, call our office for assistance.
Care After Crown and Bridge Procedures
As with other procedures, anesthetics are typically used during bridge and crown treatments, so it’s important to avoid chewing hard foods or drinking hot liquids until the anesthetic wears off. If you have questions about aftercare, discuss those issues with our team before leaving the office, but the following tips are generally the most important to follow after these procedures.
Since both types of procedures normally require multiple office visits, it’s important to follow any instructions provided during your visit that apply to your specific situation. During initial visits, your teeth will be prepared, and molds will be taken. Temporary crowns or bridges may be placed to protect your teeth and allow relatively normal function while the custom restoration is created. If a temporary crown should fall off, contact our office immediately so we can re-insert the crown. Until your permanent restoration is placed, avoid sticky foods like gum and hard foods. Chew on the opposite side of the mouth whenever possible to prevent damage to the temporary crown.
During this time, continue to brush and floss, but use care to avoid loosening the temporary crown. If you experience pain or have any questions, please feel free to contact our office for additional advice.
Care Following Cosmetic Reconstruction
Any time reconstructive work is completed, it tends to alter your bite. That means you’ll need to be careful until you’re comfortable with the way your new bite feels. Normally, it can take several days for you to become completely familiar with a new bite pattern. That means you’ll have to be careful during that time to avoid biting down too hard on the affected teeth.
Sensitivity to heat and cold are commonly experienced as the teeth heal. Some gum pain is also experienced by patients, but warm salt water rinses help the healing process. Mix one teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and thoroughly rinse your mouth three times per day until any discomfort diminishes. Of course, you can also take over-the-counter pain relievers as needed during this period.
Your new teeth can be damaged if proper precautions are not taken. Avoid hard foods, sticky candies, and don’t put foreign objects like pencils in your mouth. Smoking should also be avoided as it tends to stain the teeth.
Please let us know if you have any issues after a procedure. Our goal is to improve your dental health with as little pain and inconvenience as possible. If you have any questions regarding patient care or regarding any of our general and cosmetic dental services, please contact our dental practice at 202-363-2500.