Dental Crowns and Bridges Post Operative Instructions

Everyone will have some or all of the following symptoms: bleeding, sensitivity in the teeth or gums, swelling, discomfort, and bruising. It is hard to predict to what degree you may experience these symptoms. They usually peak by the 3rd day post-operation and then begin to decrease. Adhering to the instructions below will help to optimize your healing. 

Things To Do

Anesthesia

Please wait until the numbness wears off before eating. Depending on the type of local anesthetic used, this may take 2-4 hours. However, because people react differently to anesthesia it could be less than 2 hours or greater than 4 hours.

The primary risk of eating before the numbness wears off is traumatizing your lips, cheeks, or tongue. If trauma does occur, it will recover naturally but may be uncomfortable. This is especially important for children. Please watch your child until the numbing wears off. Otherwise, they may chew on their lips not knowing what they are doing.

A damaged lip caused by biting due to anesthesia in a young patient.
A damaged lip caused by biting due to anesthesia in a young patient.

Rest assured that if this happens, it will heal within a week or two. Remember to keep the traumatized area clean.

Diet

Avoid chewing stick or hard foods to avoid chewing fracturing the temporary crown. Avoid chewing on the temporary crown as using the teeth to chew may result in dislodging or fracturing of the temporary crown.

Hygiene

Keep your teeth clean with your regular hygiene routine. When flossing, make sure to pull the floss through the side of the teeth instead of back where the teeth contact. You may pull the crown off by pulling the floss away from the gums.

Medications

Most dental crowns do not require any pain medication. If you are experiencing discomfort, PLEASE CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR FIRST. If you were not given prescription pain medication and are able to, take acetaminophen (Tylenol) and/or Ibuprofen. Take 400mg to 600mg of ibuprofen and 500mg of acetaminophen every 4–6 hours with food.

Studies have shown that taking both ibuprofen and acetaminophen at the same time can increased pain relief. If you have any concerns about taking both simultaneously, you may take them separately, at different times. Do not take these medications more than 4 times a day. If you develop a rash, itching or other unusual reactions, stop taking the medication and notify your dental office. If you have excessive, uncontrolled pain contact your doctor immediately.

Things To Avoid

As previously mentioned, do not chew on the temporary crown. Do not play with the temporary crown.

What to Expect

Tooth Sensitivity

Often a large filling is placed under the crown. Depending on the size and proximity to the nerve, it is expected to have some sensitivity in the teeth for up to a week. If you are experiencing severe sensitivity or sensitivity lasting more than a couple weeks, contact your dentist. This is especially relevant for extreme cold sensitivity, which may be an indication of reversible or irreversible pulpitis.

The Bite

The bite may feel slightly different, however it should not feel high. If you feel the crown touching first when you bite down, contact your dentist to have it adjusted.

Gum Soreness

The gums are often traumatized during crowns. Rest assured this is minor, and will resolve after a few days. Keep the area clean with your regular hygiene habits. Should the gums continue to be sore after a week with proper hygiene, contact your dentist.

Roughness

You should not feel significant amounts of roughness around the new crown(s). The temporary crown will feel rough, however the permanent crown should feel not. You may feel the interface of the crown to the tooth, which is called the margin. However, there should not be a gap present and the crown should generally be smooth.

Food Impaction

Unless notified, there should be little to no change in the amount of food getting stuck around the crown. In fact, in some cases food impaction is actually improved. If you are having a significant amount food getting stuck between or around your teeth, contact your dentist. If you have a significant amount of bone and gum loss due to periodontal disease, you will continue to have significant food impaction. However it should not be significantly different than prior to the crown treatment.

Esthetics

Crowns on back teeth will blend in less. For most people it will not matter, as the back teeth aren’t as visible. Crowns on front teeth should be hard to see, but often they are difficult to distinguish. If you have a single crown on a front tooth, it may be more easily identifiable. If you have any concerns about the esthetics of your crowns, please contact your dentist.

If you have questions or concerns about any of the above, contact your doctor for clarification regarding your specific situation.

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