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Postoperative Dental Care

Instructions Following Oral Surgery

Do not rinse your mouth for 24 hours after surgery. This may disturb the blood clot, which is necessary for healing. The day after the extraction, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water (1/2 tsp. of salt in 8 oz. of water). Rinsing after meals is important to keep food particles out of the extraction site, but remember not to rinse your mouth vigorously. Avoid using mouth rinses.

The Blood Clot
After an extraction, a blood clot forms in the tooth socket. This clot is an important part of the normal healing process. Some activities create suction in the mouth, which could dislodge the clot and delay healing. You should avoid activities that might disturb the clot.

  • Do not smoke.
  • Do not rinse your mouth vigorously.
  • Do not drink through a straw for 24 hours.
  • Do not consume alcohol, carbonated beverages or cough syrups for 24 hours.

Swelling after an extraction is not uncommon. Reduce swelling and pain by applying a cold compress to the face for 15 minutes, then leave it off for 15 minutes. Repeat for six to eight hours.

Drink lots of liquids and eat soft, nutritious foods. Chew food on the opposite side of the extraction site.

Some bleeding is expected for 2 to 3 days after an extraction. In the case of excess or prolonged bleeding, pinch off any loose clot. Place a damp roll of gauze or a tea bag moistened in warm water directly over the socket. Bite on the gauze with gentle, firm pressure for 30 minutes. Repeat two to three times if necessary. If you have uncontrollable bleeding, excessive swelling or uncontrollable pain, please contact our office immediately.

The greatest amount of discomfort is in the first 6 to 8 hours after surgery. Use medication only as directed. If the medication prescribed does not seem to work for you, do not increase the dosage. If you have prolonged severe pain, swelling, bleeding or fever, please contact our office immediately.

Patient Instructions Following Scaling and Root Planing

Following scaling and root planing, you can expect to notice less redness, less bleeding and less swelling of your gum tissue. Your gum health must be maintained with proper home care and regular professional care.

Discomfort and Pain
Discomfort or pain should not be acute and should subside in a few hours or a few days. Discomfort immediately after treatment is usually associated with slight throbbing or aching, and occasionally may be uncomfortable. This discomfort usually subsides in about 4 hours. Any discomfort due to brushing should get better in a day, or several days at most. If a local anesthetic was used, avoid chewing foods until feeling returns; this may cause injury to the tongue or cheeks. Tylenol or ibuprofen should be taken as needed to reduce discomfort.

Tooth Sensitivity
Teeth may be sensitive to temperature changes and sweets. Temperature sensitivity may be intense the first several days but usually diminishes quickly. You may try any of the sensitive-teeth toothpaste products that are available.

Some slight bleeding may occur during the next several brushings, but the bleeding should steadily decrease after 2 or 3 days.

The root surface may be more exposed as the swelling of the inflamed gum tissue goes away. This may result in more space between teeth.

If extensive root planing was performed, chewing hard foods, such as meat or raw vegetables, may be uncomfortable. This should last no longer than a few days. A diet of soft foots would be advised until chewing becomes more comfortable.

Physical Therapy for Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)

The purpose of this therapy is to influence your lower jaw to function freely and without pain. Many situations cause the malfunction of your lower jaw. Some examples are accidents, surgery, developmental defects, peculiar oral habits, many fillings placed over numerous years, naturally occurring malocclusion (poor bite), orthodontics, psychological stress, and clenching or bruxing of teeth.

The following self-administered treatment will usually relax the jaw muscles considerably if you are consistent in carrying out the exercises. Approximately 80% of patients with muscular jaw problems feel better when doing this therapy, but some patients feel worse. Please tell us if this treatment does not help you. Even if you feel better after doing exercises, additional treatment may be necessary.

These exercises should be performed once a day (unless directed otherwise). We recommend doing them before bedtime, but you can select any time when you feel relaxed.

Exercise Therapy

  1. Apply a heating pad, hot wash cloth, hot water bottle or other heat source to the affected areas for 5 minutes before beginning the exercises.
  2. Carry out the following exercises for 1 minute each (a total of 5 minutes).
    • Open-close: Place fist under front of jaw to resist opening movement. Be gentle and do not cause pain. Open and close jaw 30 times in one minute.
    • Forward: Place fist on front of chin to resist movement. Move jaw forward and back for one minute.
    • Right: Place fist on right side of jaw to resist movement. Move jaw to right. Repeat exercise for one minute.
    • Left: Place fist on left side of jaw to resist movement. Move jaw to left. Repeat exercise for one minute.
    • Neck turn: Sit up very straight. Rotate head as far right as possible and gently force-turn once every 2 seconds for 20 seconds. Turn head to left and repeat.
  3. Apply heat for another 5 minutes.

Endodontic Treatment (Root Canal)

During a root canal the infection in your tooth is eliminated, and the canal is sealed to prevent reinfection. Nature must now have time to repair the damage that the original infection caused.

The tooth may be slightly tender for several days (up to 2 or 3 weeks). To help reduce the tenderness, rinse your mouth with warm salt water (1/2 tsp. of salt in 8 oz. of warm water), the warmer the better. Repeat several times each day and do not chew on the tooth until all the tenderness is gone.

Although the root is permanently sealed, the outer surface is weakened. A permanent restoration (crown) will give the tooth more protection. Most teeth that have been treated with root canal therapy require this additional protection.