TO-DO'S POST-DENTAL CARE
EMERGENCIES & AFTER CARE
Can I eat right away?
We use composite or tooth colored fillings in the majority of cases. This type of filling is fully cured while you are in the office. This is in contrast to silver fillings which remain "soft" for up to 24 hours. The primary concern for someone who has had tooth colored fillings is cheek and tongue biting due to a lack of sensation while the dental anesthesia "wears off". NEWS: We now offer anesthesia reversal which shortens "numb" time by 2 hours!!!
What type of fillings are the best?
Both tooth colored composite and silver fillings have advantages and disadvantages. Composite fillings are by far more cosmetic. Often, it is hard to distinguish a filled tooth from an unfilled one when using composite. In contrast, silver tends to tarnish over time to a dark gray that appears black in the mouth. Silver fillings do tend to last longer than composite. Although this is not as true as it once was, silver is a metal that stands the test of time better than its plastic counterpart. Both types should give a minimum of 10 years of service with regular dental care. The concerns over mercury in silver fillings are largely unfounded. Although there is mercury present, it is combined with other metals and is not free to leak into the body. The American Dental Association has done numerous studies which have concluded that silver fillings are safe.
Why do tooth colored fillings tend to be sensitive afterwards?
There are a number of chemical components that make up a composite filling and a very specific technique is adhered to for their placement. Although all dentists are well versed in placing composite fillings, some patients do experience post-operative discomfort. Whether the discomfort is related to chemical sensitivity or technique is unknown. At our office, we commonly place a desensitizing solution on the tooth prior to placing a composite filling.
What can I expect after having a deep cleaning?
Deep cleaning is another name for scaling and root planing. This is the preliminary treatment for someone with a mild to moderate case of periodontal disease. With scaling and root planing, the gums are anesthetized (numbed) and all deposits (calculus, tartar) along the root surface of the tooth is cleaned. Typically, there is very little post-op discomfort; ibuprofen (Advil) is a good recommendation for those who are not allergic. Improving one's oral hygiene practices are much more important following periodontal treatment. Proper brushing and flossing along with any adjunctive mouth rinses will be paramount in preventing future recurrence of periodontal disease. Regular re-care appointments will also be key. Your doctor and hygienist will make recommendations based on your particular disease patterns
My teeth are loose. Can anything be done to save them?
Loose teeth are graded depending on their level of mobility. A class I mobile tooth is minimal whereas a class III mobile tooth is severe. X-rays are the only way to determine the long term outlook for a mobile tooth. Mobility is caused by bone loss and there is a specific amount of bone around each tooth.
Can bone re-grow after it has been lost?
Bone loss around teeth is a non-reversible situation. In some instances, synthetic bone can be placed around teeth by a periodontist, but there are very specific criteria. Bone is lost because the bacteria in plaque cause irritation to the body. If the irritant is left long enough, an inflammatory response occurs and bone levels begin to decline over time. This is the reason that regular dental cleanings along with proper brushing and flossing are so important.
Endodontics (Root canals)
My tooth is sensitive to cold and sugar. Do I need to have one of those "painful" root canals?
A root canal is a wonderful procedure that allows us to save a tooth that has become infected by bacteria. Inside each of our teeth is a nerve and blood vessels. If a cavity grows large enough, or if a tooth is fractured, a root canal may be indicated. Typically, a tooth that is sensitive to cold or sugar has a cavity that has not yet reached the nerve. However, if the symptoms increase in severity or cause one to wake up at night, the cavity has most likely reached the nerve and the tooth is infected. Other symptoms may include sensitivity to pressure (biting), sensitivity to hot, and relief of symptoms with ice water. Advances in anesthetic technology as well as a better understanding of root canals has resulted in a virtually pain free experience. Other than taking longer to complete, most patients report that root canals are very similar to fillings in the way they feel.
Why do I need a crown on my tooth after a root canal has been done?
Typically, teeth that have been treated with a root canal were done because a cavity was large enough to reach the nerve of the tooth. In addition, root canal teeth are more brittle than living teeth because the nerve and blood supply has been removed from the tooth. These factors make it necessary to place crowns on the majority of teeth that have been endodontically treated.
Will antibiotics cure an infected tooth?
Antibiotics do a wonderful job of reducing the amount of bacteria in an infected tooth. However, this is a short term resolution. Although antibiotics will make the tooth feel better in a couple of days, the infection will always re-occur if the diseased nerve is not removed. The diseased nerve is analogous to a splinter; it will continue to be a problem until it is removed. Don't be fooled into thinking that everything is better after antibiotics because the tooth will usually hurt worse when the infection reappears.
What are the proper post-op instructions to follow after extraction of a tooth or teeth?
- Keep gauze in the mouth over the extraction site with biting pressure for 2 hours. The gauze can be changed every thirty minutes if it becomes saturated with blood or saliva.
The gauze is kept in the mouth to form a blood clot in the socket where the tooth once was. This clot has to be protected in order to help prevent a dry socket.
Things to avoid:
- Spitting or rinsing/swishing.
- No smoking
- Drinking carbonated beverages.
- Eating hard substances like chips.
- Take the recommended pain medication before the anesthesia wears off.
- Eat soft textured foods for the next 24-48 hours.
- Sleep with a towel on your pillow for the first night because your extraction site will continue to ooze blood. If your mouth is filling with maroon blood, call the office immediately.
- Expect to have residual soreness for the next several days including a feeling that your mouth will not open completely.
Why is my doctor recommending that I have my wisdom teeth extracted?
There are many reasons why we recommend extraction of the wisdom teeth. The vast majority of adults do not have the proper jaw length necessary for the third molars to erupt into proper alignment. Additionally, the location makes the wisdom teeth hard to properly clean. Occasionally, there is such a small space available for eruption that the teeth become lodged or impacted. X-rays are the only way to know with certainty why the recommendation has been made to extract a tooth or teeth.
Do you do dental implants?
In certain cases, YES. In more difficult locations, we prefer to have the implant placed by either an oral surgeon or a periodontist. Implants are made of surgical grade titanium and must be placed within the bone under surgical conditions. After placement and appropriate healing of the device, we restore the implant with natural looking teeth that will provide a lifetime of service.