How to Heal After These 6 Oral Surgeries

After any type of oral surgery, you may have questions about what to expect, what to eat and drink, and how to facilitate full and fast healing. While every surgery is different, there are general guidelines that can help you through the recovery process. Keep in mind, this offers general information, not medical advice. Always speak to your oral surgeon for specific instructions after surgery.

Root Canal

A root canal serves to save a badly damaged tooth. It consists of removing the tooth’s damaged area, disinfecting it, and adding a filling. Recovering from a root canal requires giving your treated tooth time to heal, and taking care of the tooth for long-term results. Immediately after your surgery, it is normal to feel tenderness in the affected area. Your gums and jaw may feel sore near the affected tooth. If symptoms cause discomfort, treat with over-the-counter pain medications. If severe pain or pressure lasts more than a few days, contact your oral surgeon.

After a root canal, you cannot eat anything until the anesthesia in your mouth wears off. Trying to eat while still numb can result in accidental injuries, since you cannot feel where you are chewing. Do not bite down on the treated tooth until your dentist has restored it. Floss and brush your teeth as usual – do not avoid cleaning the treated tooth. Proper endodontic treatment and proper restoration are keys to your tooth lasting as long as natural teeth.

Practice good oral hygiene, and continue to have regular dental checkups. Seek help after a root canal if you have visible swelling, an allergic reaction to medication, return of your original symptoms, or an uneven bite that wasn’t there before. It is normal to experience slight wearing away of your filling over time, but if you think the filling has fallen out completely, see your endodontist.

Permanent Crowns or Bridges

A crown is a cap that permanently covers your original tooth, as a solution when a filling isn’t enough to repair tooth damage. A bridge is a series of crowns attached together, to replace one or more missing teeth. It generally takes more than one visit to receive a crown or bridge. First, your dentist will examine your tooth and prepare it for the crown. This consists of filling the tooth down and perhaps adding a filling to make the tooth the appropriate size for the crown. The dentist will make an impression of your tooth to create the permanent crown.

You will receive a temporary crown to protect your tooth in the meantime. With your temporary crown in, avoid eating chewy foods that could remove the crown. Chew on the other side of your mouth if possible. Then, you’ll return for a second appointment to receive the permanent crown. Afterward, avoid chewing until all numbness wears off. Avoid chewing sticky foods or hard things that could cause your crown to crack, split, or fall out. You may feel mild soreness around the affected tooth, and in your jaw from holding your mouth open. Mild pain medications can help, but persistent pain requires attention from your dentist. It may take a few days to get used to the feeling of your crowns.

White Fillings or Bonding

White filling/bonding is a simple procedure using a resin to repair a healthy tooth that has lost some of its structure. Since white filling/bonding is not technically an oral surgery, there is nothing special you must do to “recover.” After this procedure, your tooth may feel strange, or a bit too wide. Over time, you’ll get used to the feeling of the resin. Resin should last seven to ten years, with proper oral hygiene. Drinking stain-causing beverages like coffee, for example, can stain the resin. Brush your teeth twice daily and floss around the resin like a normal tooth. Avoid hard and acidic foods that could damage the resin.

Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing, or conventional periodontal therapy, is the removal of agents that cause painful inflammation. After your procedure, you will experience less swelling, redness, and bleeding in your gums. With proper after care, you can retain the results of your procedure for years to come. Any pain should subside within a few hours of your appointment. If pain persists after a few days, contact your dentist.

Tooth sensitivity (to temperature and/or sweets) is normal in the first several days. Avoid chewing hard foods, as it may be uncomfortable until your gums heal. Brush and floss the area lightly until your gums feel normal again. Rinse with warm water and salt to ease discomfort, or take over-the-counter pain medications.


Veneers are an excellent solution for changing your smile. It’s a simple procedure that often lets patients return to work the same day. If you need sedation for your procedure, however, expect to take the rest of the day to recover. Again, avoid eating until you can fully feel your mouth. Tooth sensitivity for a few days is normal, but pain is not – if you feel pain, call your dentist. Resume your regular oral hygiene routine right away. Veneers require two visits – one for temporary veneers and one for permanent. With your temporary veneers in place, brush your teeth softly and do not chew hard foods. They are extremely fragile and prone to breakage.

Tooth Extractions

A tooth extraction is a surgery that requires full and careful recovery. Directly after surgery, your main goal should be to allow a blood clot to form to stop the bleeding. Bite down gently on a gauze pack, provided by your dentist. You can typically remove the gauze pack one hour after your surgery. If bleeding continues, place new gauze until a clot forms. Take painkillers as prescribed to reduce discomfort. If you experience swelling, apply an ice pack to the affected area. Limit your activity for 24-48 hours after your surgery.

Eat only soft foods for a few days following the extraction. Do not suck anything through a straw or smoke, as these activities can damage sutures, remove clots, and slow the recovery process. Do not disturb the surgical site for at least 24 hours after the surgery, other than to brush gently. Keep your mouth clean, gargling warm salt water two to three times per day for the first few days. We can provide you with more tips on how to control bleeding and recover fully after a tooth extraction.

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