As you prepare for a dental procedure, you’ll likely be making considerations such as what your insurance covers, scheduling, and other pre-procedure tasks. However, now is also the time to be preparing for the post-care tasks you’ll be facing once the procedure is over. Being ready to meet your needs following dental work will help for a speedy and efficient recovery.
Seven Post-Care Tips To Consider Preoperatively
Aftercare instructions from your dental provider will focus on seven main areas – diet, pain, bleeding, infection, swelling, avoidances, and healing/recovery. So, in preparing for your dental procedure, you should be ready and knowledgeable to address these areas immediately following the appointment. The following tips will help you be ready.
1. Know Your Diet Needs
Depending on the type of procedure you’re having, you may need a liquid diet over the first 24 hours after the procedure. Some may just require a soft diet for a period of time. Either way, it’s important to ask what type of diet the procedure suggests so that you can stock your cabinets with appropriate foods to last you during a recovery diet without having to make a trip to the store after the procedure.
It’s important to understand that swallowing and chewing difficulties and restrictions following dental work can limit the types of foods you eat significantly. Yet, eating quality foods that are high in vitamins and minerals will be crucial to the healing process. Make your food selections wisely and ahead of time.
LIVESTRONG offers a great breakdown on how to get protein, starches, fluids, veggies and fruits, and other nutrient-rich foods from a soft or liquid diet.
Bonus tip: think easy prep meals. You don’t want to be preparing complicated meals when you may be in pain, medicated, and lethargic.
2. Know The Pain Level To Expect And How To Alleviate It
Again, different dental procedures will be accompanied by varying levels of pain and discomfort following the procedure. Pain and discomfort are also unique to individuals, meaning that each person experiences and perceives pain differently.
- Consider how you personally handle pain in asking your dental provider about expected pain levels.
- Be prepared with several days worth of dosing for over the counter NSAID relief, such as Motrin or Advil.
- Remember that pain medications given during the procedure may make you unable to drive; have a transportation plan in place.
- Have a plan for how and when to fill any pain medication prescriptions you’re provided following the procedure.
- If you have a low tolerance for pain, it may be helpful to learn mind and body relaxation techniques, such as these offered by WebMD that can be used before, during, and after dental procedures.
3. Keep An Eye On Swelling
Minor swelling is to be expected following a dental procedure. This is usually from the inherent trauma to the gums and soft tissue of the mouth that accompanies dental work.
Such swelling should be mild, and ice packs and ibuprofen should help ease the discomfort and swelling. Remember not to leave ice packs in place for longer than 15 minutes to avoid the potential for ice burns. Here are some helpful tips on using ice packs correctly and what to do if you accidentally leave an ice pack on too long.
The above said, swelling can also be a sign of infection, especially when it suddenly appears several days after dental work. If this happens, alert the dentist office immediately.
4. Some Bleeding Is Normal
In the moments after a dental procedure, it can be alarming to see blood coming from your mouth. But, this is normal and expected. Your dental team will instruct you on any packing used to control bleeding. They’ll also give you instructions on how to handle excess fluids and blood in your mouth, such as to let it roll out of your mouth onto a napkin or gauze pad verses spitting it out.
By the time you get home, the area will have had time to for a clot, and the bulk of the bleeding should be controlled. Don’t be alarmed if your slobber is tinted pink for the day or you wake up with a pink wet spot on your pillow, however. Controlling pain and swelling with ice packs will also help to minimize bleeding post-procedure.
The area can be disturbed during eating and tongue movements, which can cause mild to moderate bleeding to return. Your dental office will give you their preferred instructions on what to do in such cases. They may want you to bite down on gauze for a specific amount of time. Be sure to have some available. It may be recommended to use the tannic acid in a tea bag to control bleeding; so, you may want to have those on-hand, too.
Bleeding that hasn’t significantly reduced in two-three hours should be reported to the dental office.
Bonus tip: dry socket is a risk following extractions. It occurs when a clot falls away or fails to form and leaves the nerve endings exposed. In this case, you’ll need to return to your dentist for a medicated dressing to cover the exposed bone and nerve fibers.
5. Infection Risks
As mentioned above, infection is a risk following dental procedures. Left untreated, such infections can quickly turn into a major complication called sepsis.
You’ll want to practice fantastic oral hygiene, especially in the week following the procedure, to ensure the mouth stays clean and free of harmful bacteria.
Keep in mind, however, that you may need to adjust your oral care routine depending on the procedure you have done. For example, your dentist may not want you to floss the area around a temporary crown. You may not be able to brush your teeth in the first 24 hours following some types of dental work. Since you can be in pain and a bit lightheaded from pain medications, it’s best to know how to care for your teeth after your dental procedure ahead of time.
Aside from appropriate oral care, you’ll want to carefully monitor for signs and symptoms of an infection:
- Foul breath
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Bitter taste in your mouth.
If you suspect an infection, alert your dentist immediately.
Bonus tip: If your dentist prescribed preventative antibiotics, take the full prescription and exactly as instructed. These are to cut off an infection before they have time to develop.
6. Know What To Avoid
There are certain universal don’t dos that are applicable following most any dental procedure. Be prepared for aspects like the following:
No tobacco use for a minimum of two to three days. Smoking and tobacco use can worsen bleeding since it interferes with normal clot formation and healing.
- No straws if you have an open wound.
- No spitting if you have an open wound.
- No spicy foods.
- No extremely hot or cold food items.
- No alcoholic beverages while on antibiotics and/or pain medications.
- No hard, sticky substances in your mouth.
- Don’t suck on, pick at, or tongue thrust the treated area.
- No exercise or strenuous labor until bleeding has stopped for 24 hours, which, depending on your job, may mean you need to miss work.
7. Healing And Recovery
All of the above are part of the healing and recovery phase following dental procedures. It will be crucial for you to give yourself the adequate tools, time, and effort to follow each of your dental care provider’s post-procedure instructions. To do this, you’ll need to prepare.
- Ensure your living space is clean, comfortable, and relaxing for recovery ahead of time.
- Alert your job or school ahead of time to the expected time off you’ll need to recover.
- Make transportation arrangements ahead of time on how to get to and from the initial appointment, any potential medical emergencies, prescription pickup, and follow-up appointments if you need to take prescription narcotics for pain.
- Make childcare arrangements for the first 24 hours post-procedure.
- Consider how you feel about appearance issues if you have multi-step dental procedures, such as dentures, planned. You may desire to rearrange work and social schedules to accommodate.
There you have seven post-care tips for dental procedures that you should consider pre-procedure. In doing so, you’re likely to have a much more pleasant experience with dental services. If you have more questions about what to consider or the specifics of a dental procedure, then be sure to contact denture clinic Brisbane for more information.