Main Content

Here is a comprehensive list of instructions for after your dental operation or visit. Here is a comprehensive list of instructions for after your dental operation or visit.

  • Jaw pain and difficulty with jaw movement are common signs of problems with the jaw joint (TMJ) or jaw muscles. These problems as a group are called temporomandibular disorders or TMD and they can often be improved with some basic home care.

    1. Moist Heat: Moist heat can be especially helpful to sore muscles when applied to the painful area of the jaw for 15 to 20 minutes 3 to 4 times a day. A wet towel over a hot water bottle or a gel type heat pack can be used. A wet wash cloth heated in a microwave can also be used. Avoid burning the skin.
    2. Ice: Ice treatment is often helpful for a sore jaw joint. An ice cube can be placed directly over the jaw joint in front of the ear. Move the ice over the jaw joint for 4-5 minutes. Avoid frosting the skin.
    3. Pain Free Diet: A simple rule of thumb is to avoid chewing foods which aggravate the pain and/ or jaw clicking. Cook foods of softer consistency and cut food into smaller bites. It is helpful to avoid biting off pieces of food with the front teeth. Place the smaller pieces of food directly in the back of the mouth and chew on both sides to avoid overloading one side.
    4. Chewing Gum: Do not chew gum. Chewing gum places a lot of pressure on the jaw joints for extended periods of time.
    5. Jaw Position: Normal rest position of the jaw is with the teeth slightly separated and the tip of the tongue in the roof of the mouth behind your front teeth. This is a relaxed position with no tense jaw muscles. The teeth should only touch when chewing and swallowing. Check your jaw position several times of the day to see if you clench your teeth.
    6. Jaw Habits: Check yourself and ask your family or friends if you have any habits which might make your jaw problem worse. These include teeth clenching or grinding, lip or cheek biting, fingernail biting, pen biting, thrusting your jaw forward, and bracing your jaw even with your teeth apart.
    7. Dental Appointments: Avoid extended mouth opening at the dentist while you are having jaw pain. Let your dentist or hygienist know that you have been having problems with your jaw.
    8. Caffeine: Avoid excessive use of caffeinated beverages, such as coffee or colas, as these can contribute to jaw muscle tension and pain. Keep your caffeine use to 2 or less beverages per day.
    9. Sleeping Position: Attempt to not sleep on your stomach as this can put pressure on the jaw.
    10. Medications: Over the counter medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin or Tylenol can be helpful in reducing your jaw pain. Take these medications as prescribed on the product instructions
  • Here are some tips on how to educate your children about the dentist and promote good oral health. The Chicago Dental Society surveyed more than 600 of its members to gather tips about how parents might best educate their kids about the importance of good oral health. Here are some tips to help make trips to the dentist something kids enjoy.

    1.  BE POSITIVE AND HONEST. When talking to your child about the dentist use positive language and don’t say things like, “it won’t hurt”. Kids won’t think anything is painful here unless someone discusses pain with them ahead of time.
    2. DON’T TRANSFER YOUR FEARS ABOUT THE DENTIST TO YOUR CHILDREN. If you are afraid of the dentist, try not to share your fears with your children. A child who comes here without a preconceived notion is more likely to have a good experience. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about what happens at dental appointments let the dentist and staff talk to your child. We have our own words and methods when talking to kids. You just need to tell them its something that is necessary but not a big deal.
    3. SET A GOOD EXAMPLE. Kids often imitate the good and bad habits of their parents, and if brushing and flossing are regular habits, children are much more likely to pick up good healthy habits. From the time they are toddlers parents should brush and floss together with their children.
    4. NEVER THREATEN CHILDREN WITH DENTAL PROCEDURES. If you’re having troubles getting your child to brush at home don’t threaten them with having a tooth pulled or getting a shot. Instead teach your children that good dental hygiene is important for overall physical health.
    5. MAKE A GAME OF BRUSHING. It is healthy to brush for 2-3 minutes two times a day. Make it fun and play your child’s favorite song or hum a tune for 2 minutes. Games make children associate positive feelings with brushing that will last a life time.
    1. Load Tray with gel solution. One “dot” for each lip side of the tray. Fill tray to bleach teeth shown while smiling- Generally canine to canine or premolar to premolar.
    2. Dry the lip side of your teeth with a dry cloth.
    3. Position tray over your teeth.
    4. Gently press the tray against the teeth you are bleaching to disperse the “dot” of bleaching solution over your teeth.
    5. Use dry cloth to remove any access bleaching solution over the gums.
    6. After use: take out trays. Brush and rinse teeth. Clean trays with a soft toothbrush and cool tap water. Allow trays to dry before storing in case provided.

    Daytime use:
    Wear 60 to 90 minutes one to two times daily.  Allow a minimum of one hour between each wear time.  This is a shorter wear time because of the increased salivary flow during the day, which eventually causes the bleaching solution to become diluted and seep out the trays.  Your first bleaching period will take 7 to 14 days to achieve desired results.

    Nighttime use:
    This method will give you a faster result but may cause temporary sensitivity.  Wear up to 8-10 hours through the night. If you wake in the middle of the night and need to take out trays, brush and rinse out excess bleach left on teeth.  Your first bleaching period will take 7 to 14 days to achieve desired results.

    In order to get the best results try to avoid dark soda, coffee, tea, berry juices, red wine, dark leafy greens, and smoking up to 8 hours after your last bleaching process during the entire bleaching period.  Bleaching opens the pores of the teeth and draws the stain out.  When the pores are open the teeth will absorb stains easily.

    If both trays seem to be a “mouth full” for you, you may want to bleach one tray at a time.


    • The bleaching process can make your teeth more sensitive to cold.  This symptom is common and will only last during and a short time after bleaching.
    • You may want to try bleaching every other day or every third day if it is an especially sensitive process for you.
    • Sensitive formula toothpaste may help prevent cold sensitivity while bleaching.  Start using up to 2 weeks prior to and during the bleaching process.  Sensodyne toothpaste, and other toothpastes for “sensitive teeth” contain Potassium Nitrate… helpful in blocking sensitivity.
    • If the above modifications do not help prevent your sensitivity to bleaching then give us a call at River Valley Dental… We have a prescription strength sensitive formula gel you can use at home.


    • Your bright, white smile will last as long as your daily habits allow.  Proper brushing, flossing, and regular visits to your dentist will keep your smile whiter longer.
    • When you feel it is time to brighten your smile it will only take one to three days to bring back the bright, white color.  You can repeat this process once a month or once a year at your discretion.  Bleach refills are available at River Valley Dental.

    Bleaching solution is best kept in a cool, dark place like your refrigerator.

  • Fluoride Protocol for Children Recommended by the American Dental Association and River Valley Dental

    A dental patient is considered under the child fluoride protocol from conception through the developmental years, generally through the age of 13 years old.

    Conception to Age 3

    Risk Factors:

    • Adequate access and consumption of fluoridated water by expectant mothers
    • Adequate access and consumption of fluoridated water by the newborn through the developmental years
    • Baby bottle tooth decay
    • Good oral hygiene
    • Routine dental visits.

    Recommended Treatment:

    • Expectant mothers should see regular dental visits
    • Most city water is monitored for fluoride at the recommended measurement: 1.1 ppm. If there is a question as to the amount of fluoride present in a patient’s water supply, a kit can be purchased to test the water.
    • If there is too little or too much fluoride in the patient’s water supply the patient may consult with their dentist to remedy the situation. Example: fluoride drops, fluoridated bottle water, etc.
    • Newly erupted teeth are susceptible to decay. A parent should never put a child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup filled with anything but water. The child should not be sipping on milk or juice throughout the day.
    • Soft infant or age-appropriate toothbrushes and non-fluoridated toothpaste can be used by the parent to brush the tongue, gum tissues and teeth.
    • Dental visits starting at age 3, or if the parent has concerns or notices any problems with their child’s teeth and/or gum tissues before then.

    Children Ages 4-6 Risk Factors:

    • Adequate access to fluoridated water
    • Diet
    • Good oral hygiene
    • Routine dental visits
    • Professionally applied fluoride treatments

    Recommended Treatment:

    • Daily access to fluoridated water found at home, daycare or school. Parents should consult their dentist with any concerns.
    • Limit the amount of sticky snacks and candy, juice, milk, soda and other sweetened beverages to mealtimes. Water is best for regular hydration during the day.
    • Children can start using fluoridated toothpaste as long as an adult is present and the child is capable of spitting out the toothpaste.
    • Brushing for 2 minutes, twice each day with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
    • Parents should floss for their child.
    • Dental visits every 6 months.

    A professionally applied fluoride treatment is recommended once a year for a child with low caries risk and good dental health. 

    A professionally applied fluoride treatment is recommended twice a year for a child with high caries risk or rampant decay.

    Children Up To Age 13

    Low Caries Risk

    Risk Factors:

    • Good oral hygiene
    • Healthy gum tissues
    • Good dietary habits
    • Few existing fillings
    • No demineralized areas (chalky white spots)
    • No new cavities

    Recommended Treatment

    • Brush with a fluoridated toothpaste for 2 minutes, twice each day (in the morning and before bed.)
    • Flossing once per day
    • Dental visits every 6 months
    • A fluoride rinse, such as ACT, may be used once per day as a preventative measure.
    • Professionally applied fluoride treatment once per year

    High Caries Risk

    Risk Factors:

    • Fair to poor oral hygiene
    • Gingivitis
    • Frequent pop or juice drinker
    • Baby bottle tooth decay
    • Active demineralization (chalky white spots)
    • Multiple existing fillings or other dental work
    • New cavities
    • Xerostomia (dry mouth)
    • Radiation treatment to the head and neck

    Recommended Treatment:

    • Brush with a fluoridated toothpaste for 2 minutes, twice each day (in the morning and before bed.)
    • Flossing once per day
    • Dental visits every 6 months
    • Using a fluoride rinse, such as ACT, 1-2 times per day
    • Professionally applied fluoride treatment twice per year
    • Reducing risk factors
  • Adult Fluoride Protocol Recommended by the American Dental Association and River Valley Dental

    Adults: A dental patient is considered an adult once they are through their developmental years, (generally after the age of fourteen years old).

    Low Caries Risk:

    Risk Factors: Good oral hygiene, Healthy gingiva, Good dietary habits, Few existing restorations, No demineralized areas, No areas of new decay

    Recommended Treatment:

    • Brush with a Fluoridated toothpaste twice per day (in the morning and before bed).
    • Brush for at least 2 minutes.
    • Flossing is encouraged once per day.
    • It is ideal to visit the dentist once every 6 months unless modifications are made to your recall by the dentist or dental hygienist.
    • A healthy, low risk patient may choose to implement a fluoride rinse such as ACT once per day as a preventative measure.
    • A healthy, low risk patient may choose to implement a professionally applied Fluoride treatment once per year. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist.

    High Caries Risk:

    Risk Factors: Inadequate water fluoridation as a child, Fair to poor oral hygiene, Gingivitis, Frequent pop drinkers, Active demineralization, Orthodontic Bands or Braces, A number of existing restorations, New decay, Xerostomia, Radiation Treatment to the Head and Neck

    Treatment Recommendations: Implement Home Care instructions under Low Caries Risk recommendations.

    Fluoride Recommendations:

    • Brush 2/day for 2 minutes with Fluoride toothpaste.
    • Floss at least once per day.
    • Use Fluoride rinse 1-2/day. Ex. ACT Fluoride rinse by Reach.
    • Your dentist may recommend a prescription strength Fluoride toothpaste, use as directed.
    • Professionally applied Fluoride rinse 1-2/year as recommended by dentist or dental hygienist.
    • Focus on ways to reduce risk factors.

    See your dentist at least every 6 months or as recommended by your dentist or dental hygienist.

  • How to care for the mouth after extractions.

    • DO NOT RINSE MOUTH TODAY – Tomorrow rinse mouth gently every 3 to 4 hours (especially after meals) using one-quarter teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water. Continue rinses for several days.
    • BLEEDING – Following extractions some bleeding is to be expected. If persistent bleeding occurs, place gauze pads over bleeding area and bite down firmly for one-half hour. Repeat if necessary.
    • SWELLING – Some swelling may be noticed. Do not be alarmed by this normal reaction. Ice bag or chopped ice wrapped in a towel should be applied to operated area one-half hour on and one-half hour off for 4-5 hours.
    • PAIN – Some discomfort may be experienced following oral surgical procedures. For mild to average pain use any non-aspirin type of medication. Repeat as necessary.
    • FOOD – Light Diet is advisable during the first 24 hours.
    • BONY EDGES – Small sharp bone fragments may work up through the gums during healing. These are not roots; if annoying return to office for their simple removal.
    • If any unusual symptoms occur, call the office at once.

    The proper care following oral surgical procedures will hasten recovery and prevent complications.

  • After the Treatment

    • Endodontic Treatment may cause your tooth to be sore for a day or two. If this happens, it is normal, so do not be alarmed. Take a prescribed dose of over-the-counter pain medication (aspirin, Tylenol, Advil etc) to control the discomfort and inflammation.
    • Rinse and soak the area with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in an 8 ounce glass of water). Avoid chewing on this tooth if it is tender.
    • If an antibiotic was prescribed for you, take it as prescribed until it is gone. You may notice a medicinal taste between appointments. This is due to the penetrating quality of the medicine and it is not harmful. It is normal for a thin layer of this medicated filling to be worn away. Should your temporary filling come out, call our office.
    • Please follow the instructions that we have given you. If you experience swelling or discomfort, contact our office. Please do not hesitate to call us at 507.38.TEETH.