Preparing For Oral Surgery  

Oral surgery often requires as much preparation and recovery time as much larger procedures. After all, it involves a body part we use fairly regularly and for a rather important task. Your dentist or surgeon will usually give you pointers beforehand if you need surgery, but it’s always best to take a few extra precautions. Here are some that you may want to keep in mind.

Get your meds in advance:

Chances are you won’t be up for a trip to the drugstore right after your surgery. If possible, ask your dentist what medications you’ll need in advance, so you can pick them up earlier and have them with you right after the procedure. This will also allow you to take some of the standard medications earlier, such as the antibiotics and painkillers, rather than wait and endure the pain until you’ve bought the meds.

Make transport arrangements:

Depending on the type of anesthesia or sedation you’re on—something you’ll also have to discuss with your dentist—you may not be in the best shape to drive yourself home or commute. It’s usually best to have someone pick you up and take you home afterwards.

Follow pre-op instructions:

If you need IV sedation or a general anesthetic, your surgeon will usually tell you to avoid any food or water eight hours before your surgery. If it’s just a local anesthesia, you can usually have a light meal a couple of hours before the procedure, although this will be your dentist’s call. In any case, brush your teeth and floss right before the appointment. Don’t smoke for at least 12 hours before the surgery, and for at least 24 hours afterwards.

Plan your recovery diet:

After your surgery, you’ll likely be limited to soft foods that don’t make much use of your teeth. Spicy and acidic food, including soda, may also be prohibited. Water is usually best, but if you want something different, stick to healthy drinks like milk, tea, and protein shakes. Don’t drink with straws, as it can cause a painful reaction called dry socket, which will require additional treatment.

Sleep comfortably:

You may be instructed to sleep in a certain position to avoid pressure on the area of surgery, even if you’ve stayed in the hospital for a while. The best position is usually on your back with the back slightly elevated. To do this, cushion your back with a few pillows, adding one at a time until you reach a comfortable angle.

Caring For A Tooth Filling

Tooth fillings have become a routine procedure, often requiring no more than an hour or so at the dentist’s office. But that doesn’t mean nothing can go wrong, or that there are no precautions to take. Knowing what to expect and how to take care of your new filling is essential to making sure everything goes smoothly. Below are some things worth keeping in mind.

Expect some discomfort

Fillings aren’t as painful as they are uncomfortable. Most patients will feel sensitive to hot and cold food for up to three months after the filling; if it keeps up too long, you should let your dentist know. You’ll want to avoid extreme temperatures at first and then try to wean yourself back into it gradually. Many dentists will also advise you to avoid chewing too hard at first, although this is a matter of comfort more than safety.

Check your bite

Your dentist might tell you to bite down to see if the filling is properly aligned. Sometimes you can’t tell while you’re in the dentist’s chair as you’re still under medication, but watch for it in the days following your treatment. If it feels uneven or hurts when you try to bite down, your filling may need reshaping. Call your dentist right away so it can be fixed as early as possible.

Watch for pain

Mild pain may be normal especially if you’ve had a large filling. However, it normally isn’t bad enough to distract you or keep you from functioning. Be particularly wary of sharp, shooting pain in the gum or surrounding area—this may mean that fillings are too close to each other and are making your gums more sensitive. This is especially common with silver and gold fillings, but reactions aren’t uncommon in newer composite fillings as well.

Keep it clean

Needless to say, regular brushing and flossing is essential. Depending on the type, a filling can last five years or more than ten. But maintenance plays a bigger role in how long a filling lasts; the cleaner you keep them and the less pressure and friction they are exposed to, the longer it’ll be before they need replacing. Your dentist may recommend a special toothpaste you can brush with, both to relieve sensitivity and to help strengthen the filling. This isn’t always necessary, but it’s especially useful if you have multiple fillings as they’re more likely to deteriorate fast.