If you’re planning or have just completed a restorative or cosmetic dental procedure, whether it is dental implants, tooth restoration or a new bridge or dentures, you’ll want to take care to follow your dentist’s post-operative care instructions. Following the advice given to you will help you feel better faster. Follow some simple aftercare guidelines to shorten your recovery period, reduce your pain and help you avoid complications after surgery.
Follow Your Dentist’s Post-Operative Care Guidelines
Before you have your dental procedure, take your time to find a skilled, experienced cosmetic dentist or oral surgeon who can best provide the right solution and perform your surgery with good results, so you can enjoy better oral health and a brighter smile with the least hassle and worry. With your comfort and oral health in mind, a good dental surgeon will continue to take care of you even after your dental procedure is complete.
It’s important to follow the post-operative care instructions recommended for your particular procedure. While each operation may require unique aftercare, there are certain general guidelines pertaining to diet, medication and other activities that are wise to follow after any dental surgery.
Rinse your Mouth
In many cases, rinsing with salt water or a prescribed solution in the days following your procedure can help reduce soreness. You can make a simple salt solution using ½ teaspoon of salt and 6 oz. of warm (not hot!) water to use a few times per day, particularly after a meal. Your dentist may recommend a brand of alcohol-free mouthwash or provide a mouth rinse for you to use.
You may experience mild bleeding after surgery. Mild bleeding at the site usually stops within 24 hours and can be treated with moist gauze or by biting down on a wet black tea bag which contains tannin, known to aid clotting and help reduce bleeding. If the bleeding persists, give your dentist a call.
You also can minimize the appearance of swelling and/or bruising after oral surgery by applying an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the outside of the face. During the first 12 to 24 hours, apply the pack on a cycle of 20 minutes on followed by 20 minutes off. Mild bruising is a normal occurrence after surgery, such as with an implant-supported bridge, but applying moist heat to the bruise area will help promote blood flow, causing the discoloration to dissipate faster.
Any kind of surgery puts added stress on your body, and dental surgery is no exception. After the procedure, take it easy and give yourself at least 24 hours to replenish your energy. Plan to take time off from work or school. Don’t skimp on sleep before or after your surgery. Relax and avoid strenuous activities or those that require concentration. Keep your head elevated when sleeping for the first few nights to help reduce any swelling.
Avoid Tobacco and Alcohol
Tobacco and alcohol use in the days after surgery can delay the healing process in your mouth. Ask your doctor for help if you have trouble avoiding these products in the days following your procedure. Your doctor can also help you if want to stop smoking or drinking permanently, which will benefit your oral and overall health for the long term.
Medicate if Necessary
In some cases, depending on the type of dental procedure, you will be prescribed pain medication, medicated mouthwash, or other drugs that should be taken as directed. In other cases, you may simply want to control pain after the anesthetic wears off, in which case a mild analgesic can do the trick.
If you want a stronger painkiller, talk to your dentist or oral surgeon about a prescription. If you are taking strong narcotics, remember it can impair your mental alertness and impede your ability to operate a car or use machinery, so read the label carefully and don’t exceed the recommended dose. Unless instructed otherwise, you can stop your pain medication as soon as you feel better.
Eat a Soft Diet
After certain procedures, you will want to be careful about what you eat, although that doesn’t mean you should avoid eating altogether. You need to consume proper nutrition and drinking plenty of fluids to help aid recovery.
For a few weeks following oral surgery, getting dental implants, temporary restorations, or a tooth extraction, you should avoid hard and/or sticky foods and substances that require lots of chewing before swallowing. Also try chewing on the opposite side of your mouth from the surgical site. Some nutritious but easily swallowed foods to use in the first few days or until healed include broths and soups; ice cream, custards or yogurt; rice and pasta; chopped or ground meat; eggs; malted milk or shakes, especially those with added nutrients; and baby food (or anything mashed enough to be eaten by an infant). Eating soft foods will help prevent food particles from contaminating or injuring a still-healing surgical site.
Keep Brushing Your Teeth
In most cases, you should continue to brush and floss as usual, since food debris will only invite more bacteria and soreness. Avoid the areas with open wounds and be gentler until your mouth has healed. When flossing around restorations or implants, gently push the floss to the gum, but remove by pulling from the side, rather than yanking back down between the teeth. Use a gentle mouthwash that does not contain alcohol which will irritate the sensitive tissue. You also should keep your dentures or partial dentures thoroughly cleaned.
If You Have Questions or Problems Call Your Dentist
It’s normal to experience slight swelling, pain or light bleeding after dental surgery. If you have severe bleeding, call your dentist right away. Swelling of your face or jaw, such as with wisdom tooth removal, may last up to a week. For persistent pain, your dentist or doctor can advise proper pain medication.
Download Post-Operative Care Instructions for your Dental Surgery
In general, remember to take it easy the day of your dental procedure. Most importantly, follow the post-operative instructions recommended by your oral healthcare provider for your dental procedure. Here’s a link to post-operative instructions for a variety of dental procedures that we offer to our dental surgery patients at Balle & Associates:
Balle & Associates Dental Surgeons
Balle & Associates, a cosmetic and general dentistry practice in Las Vegas, Nevada, takes care to inform patients what they should expect before, during and after a dental surgery procedure. To find out more or to schedule a consultation, contact us or call (702) 825-7468.