Post-Operative Instructions

What do I do next?

beautiful white flowerWe aim to become a lifetime partner in your oral healthcare by providing exceptional dental treatment in an environment of extraordinary service. We know that patient satisfaction begins with your first appointment and doesn’t end in the treatment chair. We strive for top-notch care and communication throughout the entire process. Our dental assistants or hygienists will provide you with post-operative dental instructions following each dental service. For your convenience we have listed them here as additional support.

If you have an urgent need or concern, please visit our Emergency Care page for specific instructions.

+ Fluoride

Your teeth have been treated with a fluoride varnish that delivers a protective coating to your tooth surfaces. To obtain the maximum benefit, we ask that you follow these recommendations after you leave our office.

During the next 4-6 hours:

  1. Do not brush your teeth. If possible, wait until tomorrow morning to resume normal oral hygiene.
  2. Eat a soft food diet.
  3. Avoid hard or crunchy foods (chips, nuts, ice).
  4. Avoid hot food and beverages (can be warm/lukewarm).
  5. Avoid oral hygiene rinses and drinks containing alcohol.
  6. You will be able to feel the varnish on your teeth. After the 4-6 hour period you may brush and floss to remove any remaining varnish.

+ Sealants

The pits and grooves of your teeth have been sealed. These areas are common targets for decay. Sealants are made by painting the grooves with a thin plastic liquid that hardens quickly, effectively “sealing” the tooth. Sealing these crevices or pits creates a barrier that protects the tooth from decay.
For the next 24 hours:

  1. Avoid sticky and crunchy foods, and do not chew gum or candy.
  2. It can be common for a white flake to fall off. This is often due to excess sealant material that has fallen onto tissue during the application. It is safe if swallowed, or just spit it out. If a large piece falls off, it may be the sealant. If this happens, make an appointment with us to have it examined for reapplication.

+ Fillings

  1. If you had local anesthetic you will be numb for several hours. There are no restrictions on eating and drinking – but you will need to be careful so that you don’t bite your tongue and lips.
  2. The restored teeth may be sensitive to temperature and chewing pressure. This usually lasts for a couple of days, but for some patients it can last a couple of months. It should gradually decrease until gone completely.
  3. Once the local anesthesia wears off if you feel your bite isn’t quite right call us for a follow-up appointment to adjust your bite. If the sensitivity of your restored tooth is intolerable or is tolerable but lasts more than a couple of months you should schedule a follow-up appointment for re-evaluation of the restoration.
  4. Attending regular dental visits for cleaning and examination will ensure that your filling is evaluated for a continuing seal and fit to maintain its function within your mouth.

+ Root Canals

  1. Your treatment may take several visits over a few weeks to complete, during that time you may experience soreness and discomfort in and around the tooth being treated. These problems should go away; however, in rare cases the discomfort can escalate to pain and swelling can occur. Please inform us immediately if this occurs as you may require additional treatment.
  2. Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen (according to package instructions) as needed to stay comfortable. If you were provided a prescription pain reliever, take it in lieu of over-the-counter medication. If you were prescribed antibiotics, be sure to take them according to instructions until all gone.
  3. If a temporary filling was placed in your tooth, be cautious and careful when you are eating, flossing and brushing until your tooth has been permanently restored.
  4. If recommended, it is important to have the tooth restored with a crown in a timely fashion to protect it from fracture. In some cases we recommend you set an appointment to have the tooth restored with a crown a week or two after your tooth is symptom-free. This is because there is an increased risk of fracturing your tooth following root canal therapy. Particularly, back teeth that must withstand heavy chewing forces are almost always candidates for crown restorations. Front teeth may be candidates depending on the extent of decay or damage, and/or previous restorations following endodontic therapy. If your tooth breaks before it is restored, you could well lose the tooth to extraction – the very thing you were trying to avoid in the first place.

+ Scaling/Root Planing

  1. You will be numb for several hours from local anesthesia. If you must eat during this period, be careful that you don’t bite your tongue and lips.
  2. While undergoing periodontal treatment, refrain from eating popcorn due to risk of the hulls becoming lodged in the gums.
  3. Expect bleeding and tenderness of the gums due to the scaling procedure. To alleviate symptoms, rinse and swish with warm salt water 2-3 times a day for a couple of days.
  4. Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen (according to package instructions) as needed to stay comfortable. Call us if pain or problems persist more than 4 days following treatment.
  5. Follow the home hygiene care procedures as instructed following your treatment. It is important to be diligent in attending to your oral hygiene after scaling and root planing. Invest in an electric toothbrush (we recommend Oral-B Braun), a Waterpik* with a counter-based water reservoir, and dental floss. (link to home preventive products). Diligent home care is vitally important to returning the mouth to a healthy state. *Waterpiks used incorrectly can cause damage to your gums. Consult your dental hygienist for instructions regarding the proper use of this device compatible with your particular dental need.
  6. Commit to attend your four-week follow-up appointment. During your scaling/root planing procedure your dental hygienist focused on removing tartar buildup and bacteria below the surface of your gums. During your follow-up visit they will re-evaluate these areas and clean them of any new buildup. They will also focus on cleaning and polishing your teeth above the gum surface. After this initial treatment, you must attend regular periodontal maintenance cleanings every 3 months until pockets return to a normal standard. Bone once lost will never be restored, but if the pockets are kept clean they can shrink, allowing the gum to reattach to the tooth. Your body’s natural immunity, the severity of your periodontal disease, your home health care regimen, and your commitment to professional cleanings combine to determine your body’s response to treatment.

+ Oral Surgery

  1. Post-operative discomfort, pain, and swelling is to be expected for a day or two following surgery. Should you experience heavy or prolonged bleeding, extreme pain, swelling that lasts more than 2 days, restricted mouth opening for more than a couple of weeks, or if you think you have a dry socket (loss of blood clot in the extraction site), please call us immediately.
  2. The day of surgery you should limit your physical activity (no exercising or heaving lifting).
  3. Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen (according to package instructions) within an hour after the appointment. To stay comfortable, it is best to begin taking a pain reliever before the anesthesia wears off. If you were provided a prescription pain reliever, take it in lieu of over-the-counter medication.
  4. Eating and Drinking:
    1. Don’t drink through a straw; suction can prevent the surgery site from clotting properly.
    2. Do not eat foods warmer than room temperature.
    3. Don’t eat hard or crunchy foods.
  5. Attend your scheduled post-operative visit to ensure proper healing.
  6. If your oral surgery was performed by Dr. Foust, also browse his helpful videos and instructions.

+ Implants

  1. A local anesthetic was used to block sensation. The effects of this anesthesia will continue in your mouth for at least one hour after your procedure completion.
  2. Your gum tissue may be sutured together to isolate the newly placed implants from oral fluids and foods. The stitches will dissolve by themselves, unless we advise you differently.
  3. Continue to take the medication prescribed pre-operatively until all are gone.
  4. As soon as possible after treatment, place ice or frozen peas in a plastic bag and apply to the outside of your face for a few hours (alternating 15 minutes on,15 minutes off) over the sites where the implants were placed. This reduces potential swelling and bruising. However, you may still have some swelling and bruising for a few days.
  5. There may be a feeling of numbness caused by the surgery that lingers for a short time. Usually, this feeling goes away within a few days. In very few cases it does not go away completely.
  6. For three days after surgery, eat and drink only soft foods. The less force you place on the implant area for the first several days, the better and faster the healing process will be (When properly cared for post-operatively, over 95% of implants are accepted well by the body; only one out of 20 implants is rejected and must be replaced).
  7. Post-operative discomfort, bruising, and swelling is to be expected for a day or two following surgery. Should you experience heavy bleeding, prolonged bleeding, extreme pain, swelling that lasts for more than 4 days, and/or restricted mouth opening for more than a couple of weeks please contact our office.
  8. You must return to our office for a post-operative examination following your procedure. Depending on the implant procedure, you will be asked to return two weeks or one month following your first procedure. Following that, you can anticipate follow-up examinations approximately every month until your implants are fully integrated with your bone.

+ Crown & Bridge: Temporary Restorations

  1. Your temporary restoration is intended to serve you for a short period of time. The color, size, and shape of your temporary will not resemble your final restoration.
  2. Your restoration has been placed with temporary cement which will require 30 minutes to set. Please do not chew during that time.
  3. Your temporary restoration is not as durable as your final restoration will be and may break or come off. If this happens, return to our office for a re-cement or a replacement. Bring the temporary with you. If you cannot come in immediately and the temporary is intact, you can place a small amount of Vaseline in the temporary and place it back on your tooth. This should hold in your restoration until you can come in.
  4. If you had local anesthetic you will be numb for several hours. If you must eat during this period, be careful that you don’t bite your tongue and lips.
  5. Be cautious and careful when you are eating and brushing. Avoid sticky foods and chewing gum. If the temporary is placed on an anterior (front) tooth, avoid eating foods that require a lot of pressure on these teeth such as apples, corn on the cob, ribs, etc. Do not floss around the restoration to avoid pulling the temporary off.
  6. Your gums may be sore and the tooth sensitive for up to two months.
  7. **It is important not to delay the appointment to have your permanent restoration placed. If your appointment is delayed beyond four weeks, there is an increased chance that your permanent restoration will no longer fit. Should this occur, the process will have to begin again and it will be necessary to assess a new fee for the repeated procedure.

+ Crown & Bridge: Permanent Restorations

  1. The permanent cement used to seat your restoration will need to set up; please do not chew for 20 minutes.
  2. If you had local anesthetic you will be numb for several hours. If you must eat during this period, be careful that you don’t bite your tongue and lips.
  3. The tooth may be sensitive for up to two months. Sensitivity is usually in response to cold temperatures and you should notice symptoms gradually decrease until they are gone completely. If symptoms persist longer, contact our office for a follow-up appointment.
  4. Brush your restoration and floss between the adjacent teeth just as you would your natural teeth. Permanent bridges will need a floss threader to clean under the pontic (the false tooth/teeth between the crown).
  5. Attending regular dental visits for cleaning and examination will ensure that your restoration is evaluated for a continuing seal and fit to maintain its function within your mouth.

+ Veneers: Temporary Restorations

  1. Your temporary restorations are intended to serve you for a short period of time. The color, size, and shape of your temporaries will not resemble your final restorations.
  2. You may or may not have temporary restorations. If you have temporary restorations you should know that they are not as durable as your final restorations will be and as such may break or come off. If this happens, return to our office for a re-cement or a replacement. Bring the temporary with you.
  3. If you had local anesthetic you will be numb for several hours. If you must eat during this period, be careful that you don’t bite your tongue and lips.
  4. Be cautious and careful when you are eating and brushing. Avoid sticky foods and chewing gum. If the temporary is placed on the anterior (front) teeth, avoid eating foods that require a lot of pressure on these teeth such as apples, corn on the cob, ribs, etc. Do not floss around the restoration to avoid pulling the temporaries off.
  5. Your gums may be sore and the teeth sensitive for up to two months.
  6. **It is important not to delay the appointment to have your permanent veneers placed. If your appointment is delayed beyond four weeks, there is an increased chance that your permanent veneers will no longer fit. Should this occur, the process will have to begin again necessitating a new fee for the repeated procedure.

+ Veneers: Permanent Restorations

  1. The permanent cement used to seat your veneers will need to set up; please do not chew for 20 minutes.
  2. If you had local anesthetic you will be numb for several hours. If you must eat during this period, be careful that you don’t bite your tongue and lips.
  3. The teeth may be sensitive for up to two months. Sensitivity is usually in response to cold temperatures and you should notice symptoms gradually decrease until they are gone completely. If symptoms persist longer, contact our office for a follow-up appointment.
  4. Brush your veneers and floss between the adjacent teeth just as you would your natural teeth.
  5. Don’t bite into things that your teeth were not naturally made to do such as using them to remove bottle caps etc.
  6. Attending regular dental visits for cleaning and examination will ensure that your veneers are evaluated for a continuing seal and fit to maintain its function within your mouth.
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