Post-OP Dental Care

Care of the Mouth after Anesthesia

Following a procedure in which the lip, cheek or tongue are numb, avoid foods that involve chewing until the numbness goes away. If your child must eat, anything that can be swallowed without chewing is “safe”. Smoothies, milk shakes and yogurt are just a small example of "safe" foods that can be had while numb. You can resume a normal diet once the numbness is gone which should be within 2 to 3 hours after the appointment.

Do not allow your child to rub, scratch or pinch their face while numb as they will surely injure their skin. They may say "it itches" or "hurts", they are simply referring to the numb sensation and need to be assured that the area is "asleep" and will "wake-up" in a little while.

A self-inflicted bite injury is the most common after-treatment complication. Younger children are best served by being closely monitored for 2 to 3 hours after their appointment. Children do not always understand the effects of local anesthesia, and may chew, scratch, suck, or play with the numb area. These actions can cause minor to severe injury that can result with swelling and significant tissue damage. The more significant the injury, the more discomfort your child will experience. Rarely are antibiotics necessary. Management of the discomfort with an over-the-counter pain reliever already approved by your pediatrician will be beneficial. You may apply Vaseline / petroleum jelly to the area and healing should occur within 7 to 10 days without leaving any scar of the incident.

Your child's cheek, lip and possibly tongue will be numb for approximately 2 to 3 hours after the visit. Please be very careful that your child does not bite or pick at the numb area. A self-inflicted bite injury is the most common after treatment complication. Please review our Care of Mouth after Local Anesthesia instructions for more detail.

Activity may need to be limited.

Do not allow your child to drink through a straw, spit vigorously or for our younger patients, use a "sippy" cup for a period of 24 to 48 hours as this may disturb the healing clot.

Blood-tinged saliva is normal after an extraction. When you remove gauze from the mouth, expect it to be soiled. Extended periods of active bleeding are not typical. If your child experiences sustained bleeding following an extraction, place gauze firmly over the extraction site and have your child bite down for 10 to 15 minutes. If bleeding continues, you can also use a wet tea bag in place of the gauze for another 10 to 15 minutes. If bleeding persists after this, please call our office.

You should try to maintain as normal a diet as possible avoiding foods that are sharp or crunchy because the area may be tender. Pasta, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and yogurt are just a few examples of the diet your child can immediately resume. Encourage plenty of liquids (water, soups, juices, etc.). Let your child determine when a regular diet can be reintroduced.

Over-the-counter pain medication is more than adequate to alleviate your child should discomfort be experienced post-extraction. Follow the manufacturer’s label instructions for direction. If discomfort persists beyond 48 hours, please call our office.

Swelling is seldom seen in children following routine extractions. If swelling does occur, the application of an ice pack over the swollen area will be helpful (15 minutes on and 15 minutes off, as needed in the first 24 hours following tooth removal).

A clean mouth heals faster. 24 hours after the procedure, gentle brushing around the extraction site can safely be started. In addition, warm saltwater rinses (1/2 teaspoon of table salt to a cup of warm water) can also be started the next day, once or twice per day for 5 days to help with healing.

A thorough teeth cleaning may cause discomfort of the teeth and gums after the fact. This is not due to a "rough cleaning" or “heavy handed” hygienist but rather to inflamed gums already present from ongoing substandard oral hygiene at home.

If your child experiences gum bleeding or mouth discomfort after teeth cleaning, we recommend the following for 2 to 3 days:

  • For gum bleeding and swelling rinse 2 times daily with warm saltwater rinse (1/2 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water).
  • For mouth discomfort use any over-the-counter pain reliever appropriate for your child’s age and weight as directed by the manufacturer that has worked for your child in the past.
  • Stimulate and massage the gums with every toothbrushing.
  • To prevent your child from feeling any discomfort at the next cleaning, maintain twice daily effective teeth brushing, nightly flossing and good oral habits.