Fillings, Extractions, & Root Canals Oh My!
Why is it that after needles, dental procedures are one of the biggest fears for patients, regardless of their age? Okay, yes, it’s intimidating to have another person’s hands all up in your mouth, and the sounds of a dentist’s tools are off-putting. It’s really no surprise that any dental procedure can cause a fair amount of anxiety, especially when you’re going beyond routine cleanings and need a filling, tooth extraction, or root canal. Let’s talk about a few ways to prepare for these involved dental procedures to help ease some of the worry.
Your dental clinic will typically provide you with pre-op instructions, so it is important that you read them! This document will include important information about what to expect on the day of your procedure, including how long before your procedure to refrain from eating or drinking, what type of clothes to wear, if you’ll need a ride, when and what you can eat after the procedure and much more. If you don’t receive instructions prior to your visit, ask! Knowing what’s ahead is the first step to easing any anxiety.
Whenever COVID regulations allow, bring a family member or trusted friend with you to your procedure. Even though they’ll be in the waiting room, many patients find comfort knowing that they’re not alone. And since many dental procedures require sedation, quite often you’ll need a ride home following your release. For those who rely on public transportation, still take time to secure a ride with a trusted individual. You may not be fully coherent following anesthesia, so for safety’s sake, bring a friend.
Pick Up Medication Beforehand
Whenever possible, pick up any prescribed or over the counter medications before your procedure. While you’re at it, pick up protein drinks, soft foods, and any other groceries you may need during your recovery. This will allow you to go directly home once you leave, when you likely will not feel up to waiting at the pharmacy for any prescriptions to be filled or walking up and down the grocery aisles. This also allows you extra time to review after-care instructions and ask any questions before undergoing sedation.
Now’s not the time for a fashion show. Being dressed in comfortable clothes is another way to reduce anxiety while loose fitting clothes provide staff with easy access for any intravenous sedation that may need to be administered or for a blood pressure cuff or other monitoring devices to be used. Many clinics recommend sweatpants and a short sleeve shirt, so check with your clinic before your arrival.
Remember any procedure that requires sedation also requires that you fast beforehand. By restraining from eating or drinking for 8-12 hours prior to your procedure (read those instructions!), you reduce your risk of aspiration. Since some side effects of anesthesia include nausea or vomiting, better safe than sorry and go in with an empty stomach.
Some of us naturally run a few minutes late to life, but on the day of your procedure, make sure that you have gotten a good night’s sleep and are well rested. Arriving early allows you to fill out any last minute paperwork and can reduce any rushing around before undergoing your dental procedure.
Follow After Care Instructions
It doesn’t matter how good you may feel after the procedure (hello, painkillers!), it is important to follow your doctor’s after care instructions for the required period of time. Following fillings, extractions, or root canals, there may be restrictions on how soon you can eat or drink, when to take medications, and how frequently to use an oral rinse. If you are prescribed medications or antibiotics that require daily use until depleted, don’t stop after a few days because you feel fine. Your dentist has likely prescribed these medications to reduce any ongoing risk of infection or prolonged pain.
Your Dental Care Team
Teche Action Clinic provides patients with a wide array of medical and dental services. From routine cleanings and x-rays to more involved procedures, we are dedicated to the dental health of our patients of all ages. Give us a call today to schedule your appointment!