Home Care Instructions

Root Canal

  • Endodontic treatment can take 1 or 2 appointments depending on each case. It is possible to experience any of the following symptoms after any one of these appointments: sensitivity to hot and/or cold; sensitivity to pressure; possible swelling and pain.
  • It is difficult to predict which symptoms, if any, you may experience and to what extent. In complicated cases, pain medication may be necessary.
  • If you experience swelling, call our office; it may be necessary to prescribe an antibiotic for you.
  • A temporary filling may be used to seal the tooth between visits.
  • Be gentle on the tooth while eating until the final restoration(crown) is placed.
  • During endodontic treatment the nerve, blood and nutrient supply to the tooth is removed. This will cause the tooth to become brittle and prone to fracturing which can result in the need to extract the tooth. In many cases a full coverage crown restoration (crown) may be recommended to prevent this from happening.


  • Do not bite together hard or eat for two to three hours after your appointment until the anesthetic wears off.
  • It takes approximately 24 hours for the silver amalgam filling to set up completely. Do not chewnon the side of your mouth where the new filling is located for 24 hours.
  • Sensitivity, especially to cold, is common for a few days (sometimes as long as six weeks) following a dental restoration. Usually, the deeper the cavity, the more sensitive the tooth will be.
  • The gum tissue could have been irritated during the procedure and may be sore for a few days together with the anesthetic injection site. If this occurs please rinse with warm salt water ( 1/2 tsp. Salt dissolved in 8 oz. Glass of warm water) three to four glasses per day.
  • The finished restoration may be contoured slightly different and have a different texture than the original tooth. Your tongue usually magnifies this small difference, but you will become accustomed to this in a few days.

Periodontal Treatment

  • Caution - please wait to chew until after any numbness has resolved.
  • You can take over the counter pain medication for any discomfort you may have. You may take one now and one a bedtime if needed.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water today to help remove bacteria and inflammation from the gum tissues.
  • Eat bland (avoid strong, spicy seasonings) and nutritious foods to promote healing.

Root Planning

What is root planing (or root surface debridement)?

Root planing is a procedure for effectively and systematically removing plaque and calculus from the root surfaces of the teeth. Perhaps this process is better described as root surface debridement where the areas under the gums and around the roots are cleared of disease causing factors. Root surface debridement conditions the root surfaces so that the gums can heal and makes it easier for the patient to keep them clean. It may be used as a definitive treatment in some stages of periodontal disease or as a part of pre-surgical treatment in others.

How does root surface debridement differ from a regular dental cleaning?

A regular cleaning, also referred to as a prophylaxis, is a dental treatment performed on healthy teeth gums in people of all ages. It is a procedure with the goal of removing plaque, calculus (commonly known as mineralized bacteria or tartar) and stains, which occur on the tooth. The process of removing stain and calculus from the tooth with dental cleaning instruments is called scaling. The teeth are also polished. Root surface debridement is done when patients have periodontal or gum disease.

Why is root surface debridement so important?

The root deposits of calculus and plaque harbor harmful bacteria that release toxins. It is the toxins that cause the infection process and trigger the tissue damage of periodontal disease. These toxins can reside on and around the root surface itself; therefore it is important to not only remove the plaque and calculus from the root surface (the scaling), but also to detoxify the space around the roots contaminated with toxins (the debridement). The scaling and debridement makes the surface both clean and less toxic. This is important for the proper healing of the gum tissues.

Is the procedure the same for root surface debridement as for a regular dental cleaning?

In some ways the procedures are the same, however there are some important differences. Scaling is used for both procedures since deposits are removed in both situations. However, in regular dental cleanings where there is no gum disease, extensive scaling on the root surface is not required. When scaling on the crown part of the tooth, the calculus is much easier to remove because it is attached to a smooth enamel surface. Also, a regular dental cleaning rarely involves any discomfort since enamel is not as sensitive as the root portion. In contrast, scaling on root surfaces involves the cementum, which is more difficult because we are scaling on an irregular surface. Scaling requires more pressure to obtain a healthy root surface. It also may include discomfort since root surfaces can feel like there are nerve endings on the surface to the root. Any discomfort is eliminated by the use of a local anesthetic.