Patient Instructions

Instructions Before Your Appointment :

WHAT TO WEAR: Considering the nature of a dental cleaning and other dental appointments, it is advised that you wear comfortable clothes that do not restrict movement of the head and neck. These clothes should also be easily cleaned. We use patient bibs to protect your clothing, but we don’t want to ruin your favorite shirt or tie, so please leave these at home. We have large ADA sized bathrooms with have more than enough room to change in if you are planning on heading to work or another activity after your appointment with Dr. Cochran.

PRE-MEDICATION:  There are some medical conditions which require the use of a prophylactic antibiotic. These are generally associated with heart conditions and artificial joints, although your physician may suggest a pre-med for another condition. The use of a one-time dose of antibiotic prior to your dental cleaning appointment is most commonly prescribed. This dose is designed to protect you from any bacteria that may enter the bloodstream during a dental cleaning and is often not necessary during other dental procedures unless recommended by your physician.

ANXIETY: Nitrous oxide is a very familiar substance commonly referred to as laughing gas and is often used to help reduce the anxiety that some patients feel during visits to the dentist. Nitrous oxide is available at our office, however, it is not generally covered by dental insurance and does have a fee. If you are nervous about a procedure, please let our staff or Dr. Cochran know before your appointment so that we can help avoid any stress that you may associate with a dental visit or procedure.

LOCAL ANESTHESIA:  Here, at Cochran Dental, we perform most dental procedures with the aid of a local anesthetic to numb the area where we are working. The numbness will generally last for a couple of hours and helps to avoid discomfort during the dental procedure and shortly thereafter, until medications can be taken to continue to provide any pain relief necessary. Management of post-operative symptoms can generally be accomplished with medications available over the counter.

GENERAL ANESTHESIA: In severe cases, it may be necessary to perform dental procedures under general anesthesia. We currently do not offer full sedation here in the office, instead we work with local oral surgeons that are capable of performing these procedures. Below are some generalized instructions for most procedures done under this type of anesthesia, however, please refer to the oral surgeon for any specific instructions they may have in your case

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There are a few steps that patients need to take prior to any procedure done under general anesthesia. First, you should not eat or drink anything for at least eight hours prior to surgery and refrain from smoking for 12 hours prior to surgery. You will need someone to accompany you to the surgery and drive you home after. On the day of surgery, do not wear any jewelry, contact lenses, or dentures. If you regularly take medications, discuss those with the doctor to ensure that they are approved prior to surgery. Other than these simple considerations, there is nothing else you need to do to prepare for surgery.

Instructions After Your Appointment:

It is important to follow instructions from both your physician and your dentist following any dental appointment. This can help to ensure proper healing and to avoid complications. As a general rule, if you undergo a procedure with use of an anesthetic, you should always wait two hours after your appointment before eating to let the anesthesia wear off. Trying to eat before this could result in damage to the tissues of the mouth because you are not able to fully feel your cheek or tongue. The instructions found below are guidelines. After your appointment, the doctor or dental assistant will give you instructions on how to properly recover. Below are a few procedures with special instructions:

Root Canal Therapy:

You can expect soreness after a root canal procedure for a few days. You should avoid chewing on the side of your mouth where the procedure was performed so you do not irritate the area and to ensure that the temporary restorative material properly sets and remains in the tooth. You may also need to take an antibiotic to treat any remaining infection in your tooth. If you notice an increase in pain or tenderness in the area after it has started to recover, have a reaction to the medication, or lose the temporary filling, call your dentist immediately.

Crowns and Bridges:

Before you receive your permanent crown or bridge, there will be a period of around two weeks where you will have a temporary restoration. This is not as sturdy as the permanent, so you should be careful when chewing and while cleaning the area. You should brush the area gently and should not pull up with the floss as this could dislodge the temporary. When selecting meals or snacks, you should avoid sticky or overly chewy foods as these could pull off the temporary crown.

When the permanent crown or bridge is placed, it may feel a little awkward for a few days. Your mouth needs to adjust and should feel normal in a few days. If your bite feels abnormal, please let us know so that we can make adjustments as needed. Caring for your bridge or crown is just like caring for your own teeth, you should brush and floss daily and should have regular dental checkups to ensure that the crown or bridge does not have any issues.


The amount of time until you can eat or drink  when you get a white filling is more dependent on the anesthesia than anything else. This is because these types of composite fillings use a light curing technique which hardens the material in a matter or seconds. Silver fillings are a little slower to set and you should avoid hard foods for a few hours after your appointment. In most patients, the anesthesia will wear off in a couple of hours, however, this has some variability between patients. We suggest that you not eat and minimize talking while numb so as not to bite your cheek or tongue.

After the anesthesia wears off, the tooth/teeth may be sensitive. If you have any issues, avoid hot and cold food or drink until the sensitivity has subsided. This will usually only occur for a day or so after the tooth has been filled. If the filling was below the gums, you may also have some tenderness in this area. The tissues of the mouth heal very quickly and symptoms should be resolved within a few days. If any symptoms persist or adjustments are needed, please contact the office and we will schedule you to come back in. Care for your new filling is the same as your natural teeth and your normal hygiene plan should be utilized to ensure that your fillings last for a long time.

Scaling and Root Planing (DEEP CLEANING):

After this procedure, your gums will likely be sore and may be irritated for a few days. If provided with a prescription mouth rinse or recommended to use any other product, follow the directions on the product label. You can also rinse with warm salt water (1 tsp salt / 8 oz water) two to three times a day. Although the area may be tender, it is important to keep the teeth clean for proper healing; brushing and flossing should be resumed quickly after the procedure. Brush and floss gently, if needed, but try to get into this routine as soon as possible. If you experience any swelling or bleeding, you can place a cold compress on the area. The use of prescription pain medications or antibiotics is not generally necessary, however, you may want to utilize over-the-counter pain medications such as Advil or Motrin to help with any inflammation and soreness. Avoid any hard or chewy foods for two to three days to ensure the area heals correctly. If you continue to experience pain or swelling after a few days, contact the office to determine if any further treatment is necessary.


Before you receive your permanent veneer, you will first receive a temporary restoration. This is not as sturdy as the permanent version, so you should be careful when cleaning and eating. You should brush the area gently and should not pull up on the tooth when flossing because the veneer could become dislodged. Hard or sticky foods should also be avoided as they can cause the temporary to become unbounded or break.

There may be some sensitivity and irritation after the temporary or permanent is placed. This is normal and will subside after the soft tissue heals. A warm salt water rinse can help, and you may also take Advil or Tylenol if necessary.

When the veneer is placed, it may feel ‘new’ for a while. You should try to avoid ‘playing with it’ with your tongue. After a couple of days, it should feel normal to you. Your mouth just needs a little time to adjust to the new tooth. When brushing and flossing, pay attention to the areas around the edges of the veneer to ensure these margins remain clean and free of stains.


After the surgery, you will need to rest. You may want to have someone drive you home. If general anesthesia is used (where you were fully asleep), this a requirement. We do not use full sedation at our office but do refer to offices that can provide this. A friend or family member should bring you to your appointment and drive you home afterwords. They should plan to stay with you for several hours afterwards. For extractions performed at our office, local anesthetic is utilized and less post-operative supervision is necessary, however, you can expect the extraction site to bleed for a little while after the surgery. Gauze will be placed over the extraction site at the end of the appointment. We suggest you leave this in place for between 15 to 20 minutes before you check to see if any bleeding has stopped. Additional gauze as well as written instructions will be provided. Before placing new gauze in the area, make sure to dampen the cotton so that it doesn’t stick to the newly formed clot. If after an additional 15 minutes there is still some bleeding, place a moist tea bag over the site and apply pressure for another 15 min. If bleeding continues for longer than 24 hours, you should call your dentist. Rest when you return home, but do not lie flat. This could prolong the bleeding. Prop your head up on a pillow when lying down. Your dentist will make recommendations for pain management. For the type of extractions that are performed in this office, it is not generally necessary to prescribe pain medications. Suggested over-the-counter pain medication use will be discussed at the time of your appointment.  If a tooth is infected, it may be necessary to utilize antibiotics. It is important that you take these as directed and until all pills are gone to ensure infection doesn’t return.

You should limit your diet to soft foods for a few days after your surgery, some recommended foods are:

  • Gelatin
  • Pudding
  • Yogurt
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Ice cream
  • Broth/Soups
  • Other food you can eat without chewing

You should avoid foods with small particles or seeds such as rice, strawberries, or any other small seeded food.
When drinking, do not use a straw. This can loosen any sutures that may have been placed and can also cause the loss of the clot and slow the healing process. Smoking and other tobacco products should also be avoided as they can delay the healing process.

If the above precautions are taken, you should be able to avoid dry socket. While this issue can happen for a number of reasons, it is generally avoidable if proper care is taken. Symptoms to look for include worsening pain after a period of improvement, additional bleeding, and/or swelling of the area. Call our office or the oral surgeon (if utilized) for additional treatment if needed.

If you have prolonged pain, bleeding, irritation, or don’t feel that the extraction site is healing properly, call to schedule a follow up appointment.

Pain Management:

Post operative management of dental pain and discomfort is a concern for many patients. While a small amount of soreness is common and tolerable, when the discomfort reaches a level where it becomes pain, the use of medications is often indicated. Dental pain is a unique type of pain and is often associated with inflammation of the tissue. To treat the source of this pain, it is suggested that a patient’s initial medication to take is an OTC NSAID. Translation: Over-the-Counter Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug. These types of drugs actually help resolve the source of the pain and don’t just mask the symptoms. The primary example of this type of medication is ibuprofen, such as Advil and Motrin. The choice of name brand or store brand is up to you, however, the active ingredient should be listed as ibuprofen. Unless instructed otherwise, these medications should be taken as instructed on the packaging. If your physician has suggested you avoid these types of medications, an alternative medication is Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, which should always be taken as instructed. You should never exceed the maximum listed dosage. If you are on any other pain medications, it is important to check to make sure that you are not duplicating medications, as many other medications contain acetaminophen. If you have any questions, contact either our office or your primary care physician.

The use of prescription pain medications is rarely indicated and Dr. Cochran does NOT call in these types of medications. In order to receive a prescription for medications from our office, you must first be seen and evaluated. This is to ensure that a more serious issue is not present and that more urgent treatment is not necessary. If over-the-counter medications are ineffective, it is likely that an infection or other issue is present which needs to be evaluated and treated.