Home Care Instructions
Skip to the following sections to find advice and instructions for post-appointment care:
Post Cosmetic Reconstruction
Remember that it will take time to adjust to the feel of your new bite. 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.
It is normal to experience some hot and cold sensitivity. 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. A mild pain medication (one tablet of Tylenol or Ibuprofen every 3-4 hours) should ease any residual discomfort.
Don’t be concerned if your speech is affected for the first few days. You will quickly adapt and be speaking normally. You may also notice increased salivation as a result of your brain’s response to the new size and shape of your teeth.
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 teeth. Avoid hard foods such as nuts, peanut brittle, ice and sticky candies. Smoking will stain your new teeth. Minimize or avoid substances that stain such as coffee and red wine.
If you engage in sports let us know so we can make a custom mouthguard. 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. If you detect any problems, call our office at 210-341-1145 so we can schedule an adjustment appointment.
After Crown and Bridge Appointments
Crowns and bridges usually take two or three appointments to complete. In the first visit, the teeth are prepared and molds of the mouth are taken. Temporary crowns or bridges are placed to protect the teeth while the custom restoration is being made. Since the teeth will be anesthetized, the tongue, lips, and other areas of the mouth may be numb. Please refrain from eating hard foods and drinking hot beverages until the numbness is completely worn off.
Occasionally a temporary crown may come off. Call us at 210-341-1145 if this happens and bring the temporary crown with you so we can recement 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 (especially gum), hard foods, and if possible, chew on the opposite side of your mouth. It is important to brush normally, but floss carefully because use of too much force may dislodge the temporary. Pull the floss through the teeth rather than in an upward direction while flossing around your temporary.
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. Mild pain medications 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 us at 210-341-1145.
After Tooth Extraction
After tooth extraction, it is important for a blood clot to form to stop the bleeding and begin the healing process. After the appointment, bite on a gauze pad for 30-45 minutes. If the bleeding persists, remove the gauze pad, place a folded clean one (or two) on the area, 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, or drink alcohol for 72 hours. These activities will dislodge or dissolve the clot and hinder the healing process. 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 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. If antibiotics are prescribed, continue to take them for the indicated length of time, 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.
If you have heavy bleeding, severe pain, continued swelling for 2-3 days, or a reaction to the medication, call our office immediately at 210-341-1145.
Post Composite Fillings (Tooth-Colored Fillings)
When an anesthetic has been used, your lips and tongue may be numb for several hours after the appointment. Avoid any chewing and hot beverages until the numbness has completely worn off. It is very easy to bite or burn your tongue or lip while you are numb.
It is normal to experience some hot, cold, and pressure sensitivity after your appointment. Injection sites may also be sore. Ibuprofen, Tylenol or aspirin (one tablet every 3-4 hours as needed for pain) work well to alleviate the tenderness. If pressure sensitivity persists beyond a few days or if the sensitivity to hot or cold increases, contact our office.
You may chew with your composite fillings as soon as the anesthetic completely wears off, since they are fully set when you leave the office.
If your bite feels uneven, if you have persistent pain, or if you have any other questions or concerns, please call our office at 210-341-1145.
Jaw Joint Care
The jaw joint just in front of the ears is the TMJ. This is the Temporal Mandibular Joint. Individuals experiencing orofacial pain (in the head and neck areas) should have a thorough examination to identify the source of the pain, which may be from the joints, muscles, nerves, or many other structures.
Noises in the jaw joints are very common in the general population. As in any joint (wrist, hip, knee, etc.), the TMJ or muscles in the jaw can be strained or injured often as a result of excessive clenching or grinding.
The jaw system functions in a variety of activities including talking, eating, yawning, and laughing; it often does not receive sufficient rest. Frequently, humans develop habits such as clenching the teeth, fingernail biting, and gum-chewing that are not part of the usual functional activities of the jaw. These additional habits create added strain to the system, not allowing for a sufficient resting or healing period. Regular attempts to relax the jaw and not overwork the area helps reduce discomfort and strain.
The following suggestions are designed to reduce discomfort and injury:
- Apply moist heat to the area of discomfort 2-4 times per day for 10-20 minutes each time. Do not exceed 20 minutes at any session as excessive heat may result in swelling. A microwave gel-pack, water bottle, heating pad, or damp heated hand towel are acceptable. Some individuals find ice more beneficial than heat for pain relief. Experiment with various options.
- Eat a pain-free diet. Avoid hard or chewy foods such as bagels, gum, caramels, raw carrots, hard breads, steak, and candy. Processing food in a blender, cutting fruits into small pieces, and steaming vegetables are helpful methods for softening food. Chew with the back teeth and avoid opening wide and biting into large portions of food (apples, large sandwiches). Also, do not stay on a diet for extended periods; periodically increase the firmness of the diet as tolerated.
- Chew food on both sides at the same time to reduce the strain on one side. Cut the food bites in half and place half on each side of the mouth. This practice may seem awkward initially, but becomes manageable with time.
- Keep teeth apart and jaw muscles relaxed. The teeth should only touch when chewing and swallowing. The remainder of the time, the teeth should not touch, not even resting together lightly. The jaw position should be relaxed and comfortable. Some individuals prefer to have the tongue resting in the floor of the mouth just behind the lower front teeth, while others prefer to have the tip of the tongue resting lightly on the roof of the mouth or on the back of the upper front teeth (as when speaking the letter “n”). Either position is acceptable, but do not allow the tongue to press firmly against the palate with suction in the mouth. Some individuals inadvertently stay in this tense, braced position (tongue against palate) for much of the day causing undue stress on the muscles.