Home Care Instructions
After Restorative Treatment
Restorative treatment can be considered to include amalgam or white composite fillings used to restore tooth decay, as well as many cosmetic procedures such as bonding or porcelain veneers.
You may chew with your new composite (white) fillings as soon as the anesthetic completely wears off, since they are fully hardened when you leave the office. Amalgam (silver) fillings take a few hours to harden completely, and we recommend you chew on the side opposite your new restorations for a period of 24 hours after treatment.
All efforts are made to ensure that your occlusion (bite) is correct when you leave the office after a restorative procedure. While your bite may feel different post-treatment, as long as all of your teeth come together at more or less the same time when biting, we recommend you give it a few days after leaving the office to adjust to the feel of your new bite. How long to wait depends on the amount of work you had done. When the bite is altered or the position of the teeth is changed it takes several days for the brain to recognize the new position of your teeth or their thickness as normal. Sometimes the freezing can mask an issue with your occlusion when we check your bite at the end of your appointment. If you find after the anesthetic comes out that you are touching on one tooth before the others when you close, please contact our office as you will require an adjustment. This will require only a brief appointment, usually without anesthetic. If, after a few days, you are unable to get used to your bite, there may be a minor adjustment required, again likely without anesthetic. Please call our office so that we can schedule an adjustment appointment.
It is normal to experience some hot and cold sensitivity after dental procedures are completed. Dental treatment often results in a reversible pulpitis, meaning that the nerves within the tooth become inflamed and hypersensitive for a period of time after your appointment. The teeth require some time to heal after removal of tooth structure and will be sensitive in the interim. Your gums may also be sore for a few days. Warm salt water rinses (a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water) three times a day will reduce pain and swelling in soft tissues. A mild pain medication (one tablet of Tylenol or Ibuprofen (Motrin) every 4-6 hours) should ease any residual discomfort. Should you experience discomfort beyond what these over the counter medications are able to address, please contact our office so that we may assess your condition and prescribe additional medications as appropriate.
Don’t be concerned if your speech is affected for the first few days. You’ll quickly adapt and be speaking normally. You may notice increased salivation. This is because your brain is responding to the new size and shape of your teeth. This should subside to normal in about a week.
Daily brushing and flossing are a must for your new dental work. Daily plaque removal is critical for the long-term success of your new teeth, as are regular cleaning appointments.
Any food that can crack, chip or damage a natural tooth can do the same to your new restorations, usually more easily. Avoid hard foods and substances (such as beer nuts, peanut brittle, ice, fingernails, or pencils) and sticky candies. Smoking will stain your new teeth. Minimize or avoid foods that stain such as coffee, red wine, tea and berries.
If you engage in sports let us know so we can make a custom mouthguard. It is the policy of Higson Dental Group that sportsguards are provided for all patients without charge from our office. Please be advised that there is still a lab fee payable to the dental lab that fabricates the appliance from the models we provide them. If you grind your teeth at night, wear the night guard we have provided for you. Adjusting to the look and feel of your new smile will take time. If you have any problems or concerns, please let us know. We always welcome your questions.
After Crown and Bridge Appointments
Crowns and bridges typically take two appointments to complete. In the first visit, the teeth are prepared and molds of the mouth are taken. These are then forwarded to a lab where the final restorations are made. Temporary crowns or bridges are placed to protect the teeth, usually for two weeks, while the permanent restoration is being made. Since the teeth will be anesthetized, the tongue, lips and roof of the mouth may be numb. Please refrain from eating and drinking hot beverages until the numbness disappears completely.
Occasionally a temporary crown may come off. Please call us immediately if this happens and bring the temporary crown with you so we can re-cement it. It is very important for the temporary to stay in place, as it will prevent other teeth from moving and compromising the fit of your final restoration.
To keep your temporaries in place, avoid eating sticky foods (gum), hard foods, and if possible, chew on the opposite side of your mouth. It is important to brush normally, but floss carefully and don’t pull up on the floss which may dislodge the temporary. Pull the floss out from the side of the temporary crown to prevent dislodgement. This technique will be demonstrated to you during the first appointment.
Crown and bridge preparations are roughly equivalent to completing a large restoration on the tooth. As with restorative appointments, it is normal to experience some temperature and pressure sensitivity after each appointment. The sensitivity should subside a few weeks after the placement of the final restoration. Pain triggered by stimuli, temperature or biting, will normally subside with time. If the pain is spontaneous (occurs without stimulus), the procedure may be more of an insult than the tooth can tolerate. Please contact us in this event so that we may diagnose whether root canal therapy is necessary. Pain medications, either over the counter or prescription, may also be used as directed by our office.
If your bite feels uneven, if you have persistent pain, or if you have any other questions or concerns, please call our office.
After Tooth Extraction
After tooth extraction, it’s important for a blood clot to form to stop the bleeding and begin the healing process. That’s why we ask you to bite on a gauze pad for 20-30 minutes after the appointment. If the bleeding or oozing still persists, place another gauze pad and bite firmly for another 30 minutes. You may have to do this several times.
After the blood clot forms, it is important not to disturb or dislodge the clot as it aids healing. Do not rinse vigorously, suck on straws, smoke, drink alcohol or brush teeth next to the extraction site for 72 hours. These activities will dislodge or dissolve the clot and retard the healing process. Depending on the difficulty of the extraction, you may need to limit vigorous exercise for the next 24 hours as this will increase blood pressure and may cause more bleeding from the extraction site.
After the tooth is extracted you may feel some pain and experience some swelling. An ice pack or an unopened bag of frozen peas or corn applied to the area will keep swelling to a minimum. Take pain medications as prescribed. The swelling usually subsides after 48 hours.
Use the pain medication as directed. Call the office if the medication doesn’t seem to be working. If antibiotics are prescribed, continue to take them until they are all gone, even if signs and symptoms of infection are gone. Drink lots of fluid and eat nutritious soft food on the day of the extraction. You can eat normally as soon as you are comfortable.
It is important to resume your normal dental routine after 24 hours. This should include brushing and flossing your teeth at least once a day. This will speed healing and help keep your mouth fresh and clean.
After a few days you will feel fine and can resume your normal activities. If you have heavy bleeding, severe pain, continued swelling for 2-3 days, or a reaction to the medication, please call our office immediately.