Post-Operative Care

The following is a listing of some common concerns after your child has had dental treatment.

Numbness Associated With Local Anesthetic

Local anesthetic is the most effective way of eliminating any discomfort that may accompany dental treatment. The only downside to a comfortable dental visit and anesthetized teeth is the associated numbness of the adjacent soft tissues, the lips, the cheeks and the tongue. The duration of numbness varies. The effect will differ between two individuals, even if they are related. Also, the duration and depth of numbness varies with the type of anesthetic agents administered.

We try to use the local anesthetic that best suits the treatment type and normally the numbness wears off within an hour after your child has left the office. Some individuals may experience numbness for less than a half hour while other children have been numb four hours after the treatment visit. Your child will notice his lips and/or tongue beginning to tingle as the feeling returns.

Watch your child carefully following dental treatment. It only takes a second for a child to damage soft tissues by chewing on them or by sucking on lips or cheeks.

Younger children will leave the operatory with a “tooth pillow,” which is a cotton roll or gauze. This is placed between the teeth to remind the child that his tissues are asleep. Your child should not chew on the pillow as he may injure the soft tissues. Extra cotton rolls with be given to you in order to replace the original pillow if need be.

Older and younger children will be warned to “not chew on their lips or tongue.”

The lip and cheek and tongue will be numb on the affected side if you child receives local anesthetic to numb the teeth on the mandible or lower jaw. Only the lip and cheek should be numb if the affected tooth or gum is on the maxilla or upper jaw.

A child may drink liquids following dental treatment. (Be sure to wait at least 40 minutes following extractions and then make sure they do not use a straw.)

Soft food may be eaten on the day of treatment, after the soft tissues regain feeling. A regular diet may be continued the following day unless there has been an extraction. If your child has had a tooth extracted, wait a second day before continuing a normal eating pattern unless the dentist suggests otherwise.


Numbness and Tissue Biting (Cheek, Lip or Tongue)

If your child bites their lip, cheek or tongue following the administration of local anesthetic, please call the office for instructions.

If there is excessive bleeding from the mouth following dental treatment, please call the office and be prepared to return to the office for a no-charge observation exam.

  • The signs of lip trauma from biting are:
  • A swollen lip (as much a three-times normal)
  • A raw lip surface
  • The affected area will be tender and sensitive to acidic and hot or spicy foods
  • The following day the lip surface will be covered by a white membranous “scab”

What to do:

  • Call the office and inform the dentist of the incident
  • Feel free to return to the office for observation
  • If you are in any way not satisfied with the advice
  • If the dentist feels it is necessary to see your child
  • You will not be charged
  • We want you to be comfortable and understand the injury and care
  • Keep your child well fed and hydrated
  • Popsicles and other frozen items will be comforting
  • Cold liquids are best and milkshakes are yummy
  • Avoid acidic and spicy juices or foods
  • Infection is extremely rare in cases of these self-inflicted wounds
  • Usually antibiotics are not necessary
  • Do not use Vaseline or petroleum jelly type products to coat the tissues
  • Use vitamin E oil if you desire to coat the surface

Normal healing will require a week


The signs of cheek trauma from biting are:

  • A raw and tattered looking inner mid-cheek area on affected side
  • The cheek may be swollen and “trapped” between the teeth on the affected side
  • The affected area will be tender and sensitive to acidic and hot foods
  • The next day the cheek’s inner surface may be covered by a white scab

What to do:

  • Call the office and inform the dentist of the incident
  • Call immediately if there is any bleeding
  • Follow instructions regarding lip damage
  • Stay on liquid diet until the child stops biting “trapped” cheek area


The signs of tongue trauma from biting are:

  • A swollen and tattered looking area on the affected side of the tongue
  • A deep cut and bleeding in the area of a tongue laceration

What to do:

  • If there is bleeding and your child is old enough to understand:
  • Place pressure on both sides of the tongue for five minutes
  • Use finger pressure with gauze or Kleenex
  • If there is still bleeding, bring your child to the office
  • Call the office to inform them of the incident and to alert the dentist
  • If your child can not follow directions or is not old enough to understand:
  • If there is bleeding bring the child directly to the office
  • Call the office to inform them of the incident and to alert the dentist
  • If the tongue is not bleeding:
  • Follow instructions regarding lip trauma


Gum Irritation/Discomfort After Treatment

Although not all dental treatment is in close proximity to the gum tissue, it is not uncommon to have a minor irritation/soreness of the gum tissue adjacent to the treated teeth immediately after the treatment visit.

Fortunately, our oral tissues are some of the most resilient tissues in our body and most irritations will heal within a few short days. Any discomfort should be improving within 24 hours and the affected area may appear like a white patch (similar to a scab).

It is uncommon for infection to occur in such a case, however, should the area become reddened, inflamed or swollen please call the doctor on call at 775-823-9797.