After-Care Instructions

After-Care for Fillings

  • Your anesthesia will wear off in approximately 1 to 3 hours after the procedure. It is very important not to chew on the numb side (to prevent biting tongue, lip, etc.) until the anesthesia wears off.
  • Children should be observed until the anesthesia has worn off. Due to the strange feeling of the anesthetic, many children chew on the inside of their cheeks, lips and tongue which can cause serious damage.
  • Your tooth (or teeth) may be sensitive to hot, cold or pressure from this procedure. This is completely normal. The possible symptoms of hot, cold or pressure sensitivity will cease within a few days to a couple of weeks. In very few instances, this sensitivity could last longer than a couple of weeks. As long as your teeth or gums are continuing to feel better, (not staying the same, or getting worse) everything is fine, and there is no need for concern.
  • Once the anesthesia has worn off, if you feel as though any of the teeth we have worked on are hitting first when you bite down, please give our office a call immediately. This imbalance with your bite may cause further discomfort and should be adjusted.
  • The gum tissue could have been irritated during the procedure and may be sore for a few days. The anesthetic injection site may also feel sore or bruised.
  • Composite (white) fillings set up right away and can be chewed on as soon as the anesthetic wears off.  With silver fillings, you should not chew hard foods or chew directly on the new fillings for the first 24 hours. If possible, chew only on the opposite side of your mouth.
  • Ibuprofen (up to 2400 mg) or Acetaminophen (up to 3000 mg) a day can be taken to alleviate minor discomfort.
  • If you have any other questions or concerns, please call our office.

After-Care for Root Canal Therapy

  • Root canal therapy takes one or more appointments to complete.  A temporary filling or crown is placed to protect the tooth between appointments.  After each appointment when anesthetic has been used, your lips, teeth, and tongue may be numb for several hours after the appointment.  Avoid any chewing until the numbness has completely worn off.
  • Between appointments it is common (and not a problem) for a small portion of your temporary filling to wear away or break off.  If the entire filling falls out, or if a temporary crown comes off, call us so that it can be replaced.
  • It’s normal to experience some discomfort for several days after a root canal appointment, especially when chewing.  To control discomfort, take pain medication as recommended.  To further reduce pain and swelling, rinse three times a day with warm salt water (a tsp of salt in a cup of warm water, rinse-swish-spit).
  • If antibiotics are prescribed, continue to take them as prescribed, even if all symptoms and signs of infection are gone.  To protect the tooth and help keep your temporary in place, avoid eating all sticky foods (especially gum), hard foods, and if possible, chew only on the opposite side of your mouth.  It’s important to continue to brush and floss normally.
  • Usually, the last step after root canal treatment is the placement of a crown on the tooth. A crown covers and protects the tooth from breaking in the future.  If your bite feels uneven, if you have persistent swelling or pain, or if you have any other questions or concerns, please call our office. 

After Care for Crown and Bridge

  • Crowns and bridges usually take two or three appointments to complete.  On the first appointment the teeth are prepared.  Temporary crowns or bridges are placed to protect the teeth while the custom restoration is being made.  After each appointment when anesthetic has been used, your lips, teeth, and tongue may be numb for several hours after the appointment.  Avoid any chewing until the numbness has completely worn off.
  • On rare occasions, temporary crowns come off.  Call us if this happens and keep the temporary so we can re-cement it.  It is very important for the proper fit of your final restoration that temporaries stay in place.
  • It’s normal to experience some hot, cold, and pressure sensitivity after each appointment.  Your gums may be sore for several days.  Rinse three times a day with warm salt water (a tsp of salt in a cup of warm water, rinse-swish-spit) to reduce pain and swelling.  Use medication only as directed.
  • To help keep your temporary in place, avoid eating sticky foods (especially gum), hard foods, and if possible, chew only on the opposite side of your mouth.  It’s important to continue to brush normally, but floss very carefully and remove the floss from the side to prevent removal of the temporary crown.
  • If your bridge feels uneven, if you have persistent pain, or you have any other questions or concerns, please call our office.

 After Care for Cosmetic Reconstruction

  • Remember that it will take time to adjust to the feel of your brand 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.  If you continue to detect any high spots or problems with your bite, call us so we can schedule an adjustment appointment.
  • It’s normal to experience some hot, cold, and pressure sensitivity.  Removing tooth structure and placement of new materials may result in a period of adjustment.  Your gums may also be sore for several days.  Rinse three times a day with warm salt water (a tsp of salt in a cup of warm water, rinse-swish-spit) to reduce pain and swelling.  Mild pain medication should ease your discomfort during the adjustment period.
  • 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 salivary flow.  Your brain may respond to the new size and shape of your teeth by increasing salivary flow.  This should subside to normal within a week or two.
  • Daily plaque removal is critical for the long term success of your dental work.  Maintain a regular oral hygiene route.  Daily brushing and flossing is a must.  Regular cleaning appointments in our office are also critically important.  We’ll use the appropriate cleaning abrasives and techniques for your specific cosmetic work.
  • It’s important to change habits to protect your new teeth.  Any food that could chip, crack, or damage your natural teeth can do the same to your new cosmetic restorations.  Avoid sticky candies, any unusually hard foods substances, (such as peanut brittle, fingernails, pencils, or ice).  Avoid or minimize your use of foods that stain such as tea, coffee, red wine and berries.  Smoking will quickly yellow your teeth.
  • Let us know if you grind your teeth at night or engage in sports so we can make you a custom mouthguard.  Adjusting to the look and feel of your new smile will take time.  If you have any problems or concerns, we always welcome your questions.  

 After Wisdom Tooth Removal

The removal of impacted teeth is a serious surgical procedure. Post-operative care is very important. Unnecessary pain and the complications of infection and swelling can be minimized if the instructions are followed carefully.

Immediately Following Surgery

  • The gauze pad placed over the surgical area should be kept in place for 45-60 minutes. After this time, the gauze pad should be removed and discarded.
  • Vigorous mouth rinsing or touching the wound area following surgery should be avoided. This may initiate bleeding by causing the blood clot that has formed to become dislodged.
  • Take the prescribed steroid and pain medications as you were instructed.  Your pain medication should be taken as soon as you are able to take in food, so as to avoid the delay between experiencing pain and the effect of oral pain medications. Take the steroid medication as instructed.
  • Restrict your activities the day of surgery and resume normal activity when you feel comfortable.  This could be several days, so be sure to give yourself the time to recover.
  • Place ice packs to the sides of your face where surgery was performed. Refer to the section on swelling for explanation.


A certain amount of bleeding is to be expected following surgery. Slight bleeding, oozing, or redness in the saliva is not uncommon. Excessive bleeding may be controlled by first rinsing or wiping any old clots from your mouth, then placing a gauze pad over the area and biting firmly for thirty minutes. Repeat if necessary. If bleeding continues, bite on a moistened tea bag for thirty minutes. The tannic acid in the tea bag helps to form a clot by contracting bleeding vessels. To minimize further bleeding, do not become excited, sit upright, and avoid exercise. If bleeding does not subside, call for further instructions.


The swelling that is normally expected is usually proportional to the surgery performed. Swelling around the mouth, cheeks, eyes and sides of the face is not uncommon. This is the body’s normal reaction to surgery and eventual repair. The swelling may not become apparent until the day following surgery and will not reach its maximum until 2-3 days post-operatively. However, the swelling may be minimized by the immediate use of ice packs. Two baggies filled with ice, or ice packs should be applied to the sides of the face where surgery was performed. The ice packs should be left on continuously while you are awake, as much as tolerated. This should be continued for 3 days. If swelling or jaw stiffness has persisted for several days, there is no cause for alarm. This is a normal reaction to surgery.  You may have also been given a prescription for a steroid and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. ibuprofen).  These two medications, in addition to the ice therapy, will minimize your swelling.


Take the pain medications as directed. The prescribed pain medicine will make you groggy and will slow down your reflexes. Do not drive an automobile or work around machinery. Avoid alcoholic beverages. You may have been given a prescription for ibuprofen.  This should be taken as prescribed continuously, as it has a beneficial effect on swelling.  Certainly, significant pain relief will be a secondary benefit.  Pain or discomfort following surgery should subside more and more every day. If pain persists, it may require attention and you should call the office.


Do not use straws. Drink from a glass. The sucking motion can cause more bleeding by dislodging the blood clot. You may eat anything soft by chewing away from the surgical sites. High calorie, high protein intake is very important.  Nourishment should be taken regularly. You should prevent dehydration by taking fluids regularly. Your food intake will be limited for the first few days. You should compensate for this by increasing your fluid intake. At least 5-6 glasses of liquid should be taken daily. Try not to miss a single meal. You will feel better, have more strength, less discomfort and heal faster if you continue to eat. Caution: If you suddenly sit up or stand from a lying position you may become dizzy. If you are lying down following surgery, make sure you sit for one minute before standing.

Keep the mouth clean

You may rinse with warm salt water and brush your teeth the night of surgery but be sure to do this  gently. The day after surgery you should begin rinsing at least 5-6 times a day especially after eating with a cup of warm water mixed with a teaspoon of salt.

Remember: A clean wound heals better and faster!

Discoloration or Bruising

In some cases, discoloration of the skin follows swelling. The development of black, blue, green, or yellow discoloration is due to blood spreading beneath the tissues. This is a normal post-operative occurrence, which may occur 2-3 days post-operatively. Moist heat applied to the area may speed up the removal of the discoloration.


If you have been placed on antibiotics, take the tablets or liquid as directed. Antibiotics will be given to help prevent infection. Discontinue antibiotic use in the event of a rash or other unfavorable reaction. Call the office if you have any questions.

Nausea and Vomiting

In the event of nausea and/or vomiting following surgery, do not take anything by mouth for at least an hour including the prescribed medicine. You should then sip on coke, tea or ginger ale. You should sip slowly over a fifteen-minute period. When the nausea subsides you can begin taking solid foods and the prescribed medicine.

Other Complications

If numbness of the lip, chin, or tongue occurs there is no cause for alarm. As stated before surgery, this is usually temporary in nature. You should be aware that if your lip or tongue is numb, you could bite it and not feel the sensation. So be careful. Call Dr. Herrera if you have any questions.

  • Slight elevation of temperature immediately following surgery is not uncommon. If the temperature persists, notify the office. Tylenol or ibuprofen should be taken to reduce the fever.You should be careful going from the lying down position to standing.
  • You were not able to eat or drink prior to surgery. It was also difficult to take fluids. Taking pain medications can make you dizzy. You could get light headed when you stand up suddenly. Before standing up, you should sit for one minute then get up.
  • Occasionally, patients may feel hard projections in the mouth with their tongue. They are not roots, they are the bony walls which supported the tooth. These projections usually smooth out spontaneously. If not, they can be removed by Dr. Herrera.
  • If the corners of your mouth are stretched, they may dry out and crack. Your lips should be kept moist with an ointment such as Vaseline.
  • Sore throats and pain when swallowing are not uncommon. The muscles get swollen. The normal act of swallowing can then become painful. This will subside in 2-3 days.
  • Stiffness (trismus) of the jaw muscles may cause difficulty in opening your mouth for a few days following surgery. This is a normal post-operative event which will resolve in time.


  • Sutures are placed the area of surgery to minimize post-operative bleeding and to help healing. Sometimes they become dislodged; this is no cause for alarm. Just remove the suture form your mouth and discard it. The sutures are dissolvable and will be gone in approximately one week after surgery.
  • The pain and swelling should subside more and more each day following surgery. If your post-operative pain or swelling worsens or unusual symptoms occur call my office for instructions.
  • There will be a hole where the tooth was removed. The hole will gradually fill in with the new tissue over the next month.  In the meantime, the area should be kept clean especially after meals with salt water rinses or a toothbrush.  Avoid foods like popcorn, nuts and seeds.
  • Brushing your teeth is okay – just be gentle at the surgical sites.
  • A dry socket is when the blood clot gets dislodged prematurely from the tooth socket. Symptoms of pain at the surgical site and even pain to the ear may occur 2-3 days following surgery. Call the office if this occurs.
  • If you are involved in regular exercise, be aware that your normal nourishment intake is reduced. Exercise may weaken you. If you get light headed, stop exercising.

After Care for Tooth Extraction

  • After an 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 30 to 45 minutes after extraction. 
  •  If bleeding or oozing continues after you remove the gauze pad, place another gauze pad and bite firmly for another thirty minutes.  You may have to do this several times.
  • After the blood clot forms it is important to protect it especially for the next 24 hours.

So Don’t:   Smoke, suck through a straw, rinse your mouth vigorously, clean the teeth next to the extraction site.

  • These activities will dislodge the clot and slow down healing.  Limit yourself to calm activities for the first 24 hours, this keeps your blood pressure lower, reduces bleeding, and helps the healing process.
  • After the tooth is extracted you may feel some pain and have some swelling.  You can use an ice bag to keep this to a minimum.  The swelling usually starts to go down after 48 hours.
  • Use pain medication only as directed, call the office if it doesn’t seem to be working. 
  • If antibiotics are prescribed, continue to take them for the indicated length of time, even if all symptoms and signs of infection are gone. 
  • Drink lots of fluid and eat only soft nutritious foods on the day of the extraction.  Don’t use alcoholic beverages and avoid hot and spicy foods.  You can begin eating normally the next day or as soon as it is comfortable.
  • Gently rinse your mouth with salt water three times a day beginning the day after the extraction (a tsp of salt in a cup of warm water, rinse-swish-spit).  Also, rinse gently after meals, it helps keep food out of the extraction site. 
  • It is very important to resume your normal dental routine after 24 hours; this should include brushing your teeth and tongue and flossing at least once a day.  This speeds healing and helps keep your breath and mouth fresh.
  • Call us right away if you have heavy bleeding, severe pain, continued swelling after two or three days, or a reaction to the medication.  After a few days you will be feeling fine and can resume your normal activities.

How to Care for Your Denture or Partial

1. Rinse the denture/partial and brush away plaque and food debris regularly (once to twice a day). Place denture/partial into container of cleaning solution to continue the cleansing and disinfection process. Denture tablets for soaking are available at many stores and any brand will work, does not have to be expensive. (follow directions on container)

CAUTION: Dentures/Partials may be slippery and can fall onto a hard surface and break the pink acrylic and / or the denture teeth. Always clean dentures over a soft towel or over the sink with the basin half full of water.

CAUTION: Using a stiff or hard bristle brush on the denture can wear grooves in the acrylic and over time may cause the dentures to fit poorly. Be sure to use a soft bristle brush and wet the brush in warm water to soften the bristles prior to use.

2. While denture is soaking, use a dampened washcloth or very soft toothbrush, dampened with warm water (or salt water solution) to wipe the inside of the mouth. Making sure to wipe the ridges (where dentures sit), tongue, lips, cheeks and roof of the mouth. If you wear a partial, use a soft toothbrush and make sure to clean all the teeth and tissues in your mouth thoroughly. This should be done at least once or twice each day.

3. After denture/partial soaking, remove from solution. Using a moistened denture brush or regular soft bristled toothbrush with toothpaste, gently clean inside of denture, outside of denture and teeth. Use a mouthwash to give fresh taste and clean feeling.

4. Next, thoroughly rinse the denture/partial with water and re-insert into the mouth.

5. At night, we recommend that you remove the denture/partial. This allows the tissue to breathe and heal by removing the pressure that is placed on the gums and tissues. Dentures/partials should be kept in water or mouthwash when out of the mouth to prevent drying out of the materials, which can cause distortion. We understand that some are uncomfortable leaving them out at night. In those instances, making sure to keep the mouth and denture/partial extremely clean is very important to maintain healthy tissue.  Remember that the gum tissue is in constant state of change, but the dentures are not. Over time your dentures may loosen and need to be professionally adjusted or relined. We recommend that you have a dentist check your dentures annually, as well as having an oral cancer screening examination

Patient Instructions After Scaling and Root Planning

Following scale and root planning you can expect to notice less redness, less bleeding and less swelling of your gum tissue. Your mouth will taste better and feel better. Your gum health can be maintained with proper homecare and regular professional care.


Discomfort or pain should not be acute and should subside in a few hours, definitely within a few days. Discomfort immediately after treatment is usually associated with slight aching and occasional may be uncomfortable. This discomfort usually subsides in about four hours. (For discomfort you may take Advil, Motrin, and Aleve.) Avoid Aspirin containing compounds as they may increase the amount of initial bleeding.


Teeth may be sensitive to temperature changes and/or sweets. Sensitivity to temperature may be noticeable the first several days and usually diminishes quickly. Application of desensitizing fluoride will be recommended.


Some slight bleeding may occur during the next several brushings but should steadily decrease.


As the gums heal they might change their shape around the teeth. This is normal as they tighten up and shrink during healing.



  • If extensive root planning was performed, chewing hard foods such as meet or raw vegetables may be uncomfortable; this should last no longer than a few days. A diet of softer consistency would be advised until chewing becomes more comfortable.


  • For the first few days, brush and floss the areas lightly. By the end of the week, normal intensity of brushing and flossing should resume.
  • HEALING WILL NOT OCCUR IF PLAQUE AND BACTERIA ARE NOT REMOVED FROM TEETH ON A DAILY BASIS. Some bleeding and tenderness may be noted when cleaning your teeth during this period. This is a part of the normal healing process and should diminish within a few days.


  • Special hygiene aids were given to you at your first scaling and root planning visit. It is important to follow the instructions regarding use of these aids. We would be happy to review with you their proper usage at any time.


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