Scale and root planing aftercare
Scaling and root planing may cause minor irritation, redness, or swelling, but with the proper after-care, these symptoms usually subside quickly. If you have received local anesthetic, wait until the numbness from anesthesia has subsided before you eat anything, to avoid accidental self-injury. Usually, it takes about two hours for numbness to subside. Once the numbness has worn off, eat only soft foods for the first 48-72 hours following the procedure. Generally, dentists recommend foods like scrambled eggs, soft pastas, and mashed potatoes, and it is also important to stay adequately hydrated by drinking recommended amounts of water. Before your gums have fully healed, you may find that they are irritated by alcohol or spicy foods, which are therefore best avoided until healing is complete. Tobacco in any form should be strictly avoided for at least the first week of healing, though all dental professionals recommend not using tobacco at all. If your doctor has prescribed antibiotics, be sure to take them for the full course of treatment, using up the entire prescription, even if symptoms of possible infection have diminished or subsided. For the first 48 hours, brush the affected areas very gently, with a soft-bristled brush. Brushing your teeth may cause minor bleeding at first, but this should stop within the first few days following treatments. If bleeding persists, a gauze compress should help; if bleeding continues for more than 48 hours, contact your dentist’s office. If your teeth and gums remain excessively sensitive, your dentist can recommend or prescribe a desensitizing toothpaste or rinse, so be sure to contact the dentist’s office if sensitivity persists. Avoid using a mouth rinse for at least the first 48 hours of healing, as this may aggravate the gums. If you experience any discomfort, rinse your mouth with warm salt water and use over-the-counter pain medication. If discomfort persists for more than a few days, contact your dental health practitioner. Typically, discomfort manifests as a slight ache or mild throbbing that stops within a few hours. You may find that your teeth are sensitive to excessively sugary items, or to extreme temperatures; if this is the case, avoid triggering foods and beverages until your mouth is fully healed.
After the first few days of healing, be sure to resume an effective oral hygiene routine, including gently brushing twice daily with a soft-bristled brush. Don’t be afraid to floss gently, though you may prefer to use a water pick to rinse away debris that is loosened by brushing. Limit the use of mouthwash as healing continues, as aggressive swishing may slow healing. Warm saline, which is more gentle than mouthwash, may be an effective substitute that will help your mouth recover. You can make a saline rinse at home by mixing eight ounces of warm water with a teaspoon of regular table salt. Minor discomfort, irritation, or bleeding is common following a dental scaling and root planing procedure, but if symptoms persist for more than a few days, be sure to contact your dentist’s office for input about your recovery and symptoms.
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