Dental Work Following Surgery: Five Things To Know

Regular dental cleanings are essential to our overall wellbeing, but what happens after surgery? Can you get your teeth cleaned? What about other dental procedures like root canal or implants? If you’ve recently had surgery and are in need of a professional dental cleaning or a more elaborate procedure, you are at risk for complications if you do not take care of yourself and follow any instructions given by your doctor and dentist.

To ensure there are no complications here are five things you need to know:

  1. Time:
  2. Following surgery, your body needs to heal.

    Your body has a natural healing process in place that shouldn’t be sped up. After surgery, you will need to rest for a specified period of time. Depending on the surgery you had, the timeframe for rest can range anywhere from four weeks to a year (for surgeries that lead to temporary mobility loss). For dental work after surgery, you should wait at least six to eight weeks.

    Your dentist will have your complete medical history and communicate with your surgeon before you have dental work done to ensure that enough time has passed since your surgery. If you rush into dental work immediately following surgery you may see serious complications.

    The body isn’t equipped to handle two procedures in a row. Even if you are simply going in for a professional dental cleaning, your chances of bleeding or infection are higher because your body is busy trying to repair itself after having surgery.

  3. Aftercare:
  4. After surgery, your surgeon will give you aftercare instructions that must be followed to the letter. Following surgery you will be left with a wound site. This site requires care and your doctor will explain how to change the dressings and what medications you will need to take. If you do not follow your surgeon’s care instructions, you are jeopardizing your health. Having dental work done after you have neglected the specific guidelines laid out by your surgeon can increase your risk of post-surgical complications, bleeding and can be detrimental to not only you oral health, but your overall health as well.

  5. Antibiotics:
  6. Many dental procedures require preventative antibiotics if you’ve recently undergone surgery. Your dentist can prescribe antibiotics to be taken prior or after your dental work to stave off infection. After surgery you are more susceptible to infection as your body tries to heal. Your natural defences are lowered as your body recovers and blood-borne infections are common if you do not protect yourself with antibiotics. Many dental procedures involve removing plaque and tartar from your teeth, which are high in bacteria. Although the bacteria is removed carefully, antibiotics will ensure that the bacteria removed will not affect you. Your dentist will prescribe preventative antibiotics for the following dental procedures:

    1. Extractions (tooth removal)
    2. Dental implants
    3. Gum disease procedures where teeth were knocked out or need to be removed
    4. Root canal
    5. Placement of orthodontic bands
    6. If a local anesthetic is used and injected directly into the gums or near the jaw
    7. Regular cleaning if you have implants and are prone to bleeding
  7. Infection:
  8. Some people are more susceptible to infections. For example, if you are experiencing a condition like rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus or if your immune system has been weakened by a disease, drugs or radiation treatment or you have hemophilia, your dentist cannot perform any kind of dental work on you until you show no signs of infection. Furthermore, smaller infections like those that affect the sinuses or throat that can occur post-surgery will need to be cleared before you can have dental work done. Basically, at any sign of infection your dentist will not perform the dental work for your safety.

  9. Listen:

As your surgeon does following a surgical procedure, your dentist may give you aftercare instructions too. For instance, you may be required to eat soft foods (specifically after a root canal, extraction, crown or implantation procedure) or rinse with a special mouthwash for cleaning purposes. Follow your dentist’s instructions carefully, as you did with your surgeon to ensure that you are not compromising your body’s natural healing process. One of the aftercare instructions following any dental or surgical procedure is no smoking. Smoking is very dangerous and can increase your chances of post-op complications. Smoking reduces the amount of saliva in the mouth, stops the circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the body and causes many forms of cancer.

Dental work following surgery should be safe. At Dawson Dental, we take the overall health of our patients very seriously.

If you have recently undergone surgery and wish to have a dental cleaning or need another procedure done like implantation to replace missing teeth, a root canal or Invisalign to straighten teeth, please contact us. We will review your medical surgery and consult your doctor to ensure that your body can handle the dental work.