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A Guide for Proper Healing and Recovery: Post-Op Dental Instructions

Knowing that you are about to undergo a dental procedure can be a bit nerve-racking. But don’t worry, it’s going to be okay. Being informed can go a long way in helping to ease your worries.

Your McAllen and La Feria family dentists at WhiteWing Dental suggest that you follow this post-op guide for healthy healing and faster recovery following a dental procedure. Failure to follow your dentist’s instructions following a procedure can prolong the recovery period or even lead to other complications.

As always:

  • Make sure to have a ride back home after the surgery because the anesthesia will take a few hours to wear off and can affect your ability to drive.
  • Remember to rest with your head elevated to stop bleeding and help the site of the incision clot.

Recovery For Different Dental Treatments

Root Canal

You can expect a bit of pain and tenderness following a root canal procedure. For the first days following the operation, avoid chewing on the side of the procedure site, and make sure to take antibiotics as prescribed.

For pain and tenderness that extends beyond the first few days, any reaction to the antibiotics, or loss of the filling – contact your dentist immediately.

Crowns and Bridges

Before getting your permanent crown or bridge, you will have a temporary filling. These fillings are not as sturdy as the permanent restorations, so be extra cautious when eating or cleaning the site. Brush very gently around the restoration site and do not yank floss around the new tooth. You should refrain from eating sticky or chewy foods that can affect the proper setting of the restoration.

A rinse of warm salt water can help cleanse the area. Tylenol can be used for pain and swelling.

Once you have received your permanent restoration, you may take some time to adjust to the new crown/bridge, but it generally feels natural within a week. If any issues arise, let your dentist know right away.


After the treatment, you will experience dental sensitivity once the anesthesia wears away. It may be best to avoid foods that are too hot or too cold, as the tooth will be sensitive.

Regular and adequate dental hygiene is the best way to preserve your fillings for a long time.


When getting veneers, you’ll receive temporary ones at first. These are not as strong as the permanent ones will be, so it is important to be extra gentle when cleaning, flossing, and eating.

Some sensitivity and irritation can occur with the temporary and permanent placements. Once the soft tissue in your mouth heals, the pain should go away.

Just like crowns or bridges, your bite may feel a bit abnormal at first. If it does not adjust within a week, contact your dentist.


Extractions are one of the more serious procedures, and because of this, you will need plenty of rest to heal and recover. As usual, make sure to have somebody drive you home while the anesthesia lingers in your system.

Following the procedure, the extraction site will continue to bleed for some time. Your dentist will provide you with gauze to help heal and create a clot but should be replaced when it becomes soaked.

When you get home, use a pillow to prop your head up. Do NOT lie flat as this can prolong bleeding. Also, make sure to follow any specific instruction and take any medications prescribed to you.

Pain and swelling can be resolved with over-the-counter pain medicine and ice packs. Antibiotics and a warm salt water rinse should be implemented if an infection occurs.

Following the surgery, make sure to eat soft foods only for the first few days, such as:

  • Ice cream
  • Gelatin
  • Soup or broth
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Yogurt/pudding

Do not sip from a straw or smoke for 2-3 days after an extraction as the sucking motion can remove clots and prolong healing.

Call your dentist immediately if you experience excessive bleeding, pain, or have questions about healing.

General Post-Op Symptoms


Pain can occur immediately following a procedure but should reach its max within the following 2-3 hours. Any tenderness or pain can generally be resolved with ice packs or over-the-counter pain medication.


Gauze is usually placed at the site of the procedure to help dress the wound and reduce bleeding. After the gauze has been soaked, you should exchange it, and apply light pressure.

Excessive bleeding is not normal, however, and you should consult your dentist for advice.

Swelling/ Numbness

Irritation of the gums can occur following a procedure but should resolve within the first few days with proper cleaning and cold compressions. Warm salt water can help to clean the site of a procedure as well as gentle brushing.


For the first 24 hours avoid spitting, brushing, and rinsing.

Clean your mouth with warm salt water the day after. Resume with normal brushing and flossing the day after the surgery.


Do not expect to be up and running the day of an operation (or even the following day for that matter). It is recommended that you rest for the first 24 hours and keep activity light for 2 or 3 days.


Excessive pain in the area of procedure that is not resolved with pain medication can convey a complication. Contact your dentist immediately.

The McAllen and La Feria family dentists at WhiteWing Dental wish you a speedy recovery and gorgeous smile.

At WhiteWing Dental, we offer a wide range of cosmetic, restorative, and family dentistry services. If you are in need of any of the procedures mentioned above, do not hesitate to contact us today at our McAllen or La Feria office.

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