Oral Surgery Post Op Instructions

The removal of teeth, whether impacted or erupted, is a surgical procedure that requires post-operative care. Unnecessary pain and the complications of infection and swelling can be minimized if the instructions are followed carefully.

Immediately Following Oral Surgery [+]

  • The gauze pad placed over the oral surgery area should be kept in place for 30-45 minutes. After this time, the gauze pad should be removed and discarded. If it is still bleeding, apply another round of gauze over the surgical area. The key is to bite with firm pressure over the surgical area without changing the gauze too frequently. Avoid talking while the gauze is in place as this will minimize the pressure on the area.
  • Vigorous mouth rinsing or touching the wound area following oral surgery should be avoided. This may initiate bleeding by causing the blood clot that has formed to become dislodged.
  • Take the prescribed pain medications as soon as you get home after oral surgery.
  • Restrict your activities the day of oral surgery and resume normal activity when you feel comfortable.
  • Place ice packs to the sides of your face where oral surgery was performed. Refer to the section on swelling for explanation.
  • Smoking and vaping can delay healing and cause complications. Your risk of infection is increased if you smoke. Smoking should be avoided at all costs.

Bleeding Following Oral Surgery [+]

A certain amount of bleeding is to be expected following oral surgery. Slight bleeding, oozing or redness in the saliva is not uncommon. If bleeding continues, bite on a moistened tea bag for an hour. To minimize further bleeding, sit upright and avoid exercise. If bleeding does not subside, call our oral surgery office for further instructions.

Swelling Following Oral Surgery [+]

The swelling that is normally expected is usually proportional to the oral surgery involved.  The more difficult the procedure, the more swelling that can be expected. Swelling around the mouth, cheeks, eyes and sides of the face is not uncommon. This is the body’s normal reaction to oral surgery and eventual repair. The swelling will not become apparent until the day following oral surgery and will not reach its maximum until 2-3 days post-operatively. However, the swelling may be minimized by the immediate use of ice packs. Two baggies filled with ice, or ice packs should be applied to the sides of the face where oral surgery was performed. The ice packs should be left on continuously while you are awake. The swelling should start to subside as your recovery progresses. If you note an increase in swelling past day 3 post-op, please call our office. If some jaw stiffness has persisted for several days, there is no cause for alarm. You may experience some limitation of opening and the muscles can be sore. This is a normal reaction to oral surgery. Twenty hours following oral surgery, the application of moist heat to the sides of the face is beneficial in reducing the size of the swelling.  If you have any questions, please contact our office.

Pain Following Oral Surgery [+]

Pain following oral surgery is very common.  Pain response can vary significantly from one person to the next. For more difficult oral surgical procedures, pain is not uncommon for several days following the procedure, even up to a week or more.

For mild discomfort, you may only need Tylenol or Ibuprofen.

For moderate to severe pain, take the tablets prescribed as directed. If your prescribed medication contains Tylenol, please avoid taking additional Tylenol as this could damage your liver. The prescribed pain medicine will make you groggy and will slow down your reflexes. Do not drive an automobile or work around machinery. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Pain or discomfort following surgery should subside more and more every day. If pain persists, it may require attention and you should call our oral surgery office.

Diet Following Oral Surgery [+]

After general anesthetic or I.V. sedation, liquids should be initially taken. Do not use straws. Drink from a glass. The sucking motion can cause more bleeding by dislodging the blood clot. You may eat anything soft by chewing away from the surgical sites. High calorie, high protein intake is very important. Eat soft food (Ice cream, yogurt, pudding, et cetera) for the first few days. Avoid crunchy foods (Chips, peanuts, food with seeds). Nourishment should be taken regularly. You should prevent dehydration by taking fluids regularly. Your food intake may be limited for the first few days due to soreness. You should compensate for this by increasing your fluid intake. At least 5-6 glasses of liquid should be taken daily. Try not to miss a single meal. You will feel better, have more strength, less discomfort and heal faster if you continue to eat. Caution: If you suddenly sit up or stand from a lying position you may become dizzy. If you are lying down following surgery, make sure you sit for one minute before standing.

Keep the mouth clean [+]

Oral hygiene is very important following oral surgery. No rinsing of any kind should be performed until the day following oral surgery. You can brush your teeth the night of oral surgery but avoid the surgical sites and do not swish water or rinse. The day after oral surgery you should begin rinsing at least 5-6 times a day, especially after eating, with nine ounces of warm water mixed with ½ teaspoon of salt or with the prescribed Chlorhexidine rinse. Also, if you have been given an irrigating syringe, please start irrigating out the socket five days after the procedure. This will help keep the socket free of debris and prevent infection. Use of the irrigating syringe should continue until the socket is closed which can take upwards of a month.

Discoloration [+]

In some cases, discoloration of the skin follows swelling. The development of black, blue, green, or yellow discoloration is due to blood spreading beneath the tissues. This is a normal post-operative occurrence, which may occur 2-3 days post-operatively. Moist heat applied to the area may speed up the removal of the discoloration.

Antibiotics [+]

If you have been placed on antibiotics, take the tablets or liquid as directed. Antibiotics will be given to help prevent infection. Discontinue antibiotic use in the event of a rash or other unfavorable reaction. If you are on birth control, the antibiotic can interfere with effectiveness of the birth control, so alternative birth control measures need to be taken. If you develop any diarrhea during or following the use of the antibiotic please call our oral surgery office.

Nausea and Vomiting [+]

Nausea and vomiting is not uncommon following oral surgery procedures, especially if you take a narcotic, pain reliever or have had IV Sedation.  Nausea and vomiting will usually subside within 24 hours after the procedure. In the event of nausea and/or vomiting following oral surgery, do not take anything by mouth for at least an hour including the prescribed medicine. You should then sip on coke, tea or ginger ale. You should sip slowly over a fifteen-minute period. When the nausea subsides you can begin taking solid foods and the prescribed medicine. If any nausea persists, anti-nausea medication can be prescribed. If nausea or vomiting persists, please call our office.

Other Complications [+]

  • If numbness of the lip, chin, gum tissue, or tongue occurs there is no cause for alarm. As stated before oral surgery, this is usually temporary in nature. You should be aware that if your lip or tongue is numb, you could bite it and not feel the sensation. So be careful. Call our office if you have any questions.
  • Slight elevation of temperature immediately following oral surgery is not uncommon. If the temperature persists, notify the office. Tylenol or ibuprofen should be taken to reduce the fever.
  • You should be careful going from the lying down position to standing. You could get light headed when you stand up suddenly. Before standing up, you should sit for one minute, then get up. Pain medications can make you dizzy and it can also be difficult to take fluids.
  • Occasionally, patients may feel hard projections in the mouth with their tongue. They are not roots, they are the bony walls which supported the tooth. These projections usually smooth out spontaneously. If not, they can be removed.
  • If the corners of your mouth are stretched, they may dry out and crack. Your lips should be kept moist with an ointment such as Vaseline.
  • Sore throats and pain when swallowing is not uncommon. The muscles get swollen. The normal act of swallowing can then become painful. This will subside in 2-3 days.
  • Stiffness (Trimus) of the jaw muscles may cause difficulty in opening your mouth for a few days following oral surgery. This is a normal post-operative event which will resolve in time.

Finally [+]

Sometimes sutures are placed in the area of oral surgery to minimize post-operative bleeding and to help healing. Sometimes they become dislodged, this is no cause for alarm. Just remove the suture from your mouth and discard it.

The pain and swelling should subside more and more each day following oral surgery. If your post-operative pain or swelling worsens or unusual symptoms occur call our office for instructions.

There will be a cavity where the tooth was removed. The cavity will gradually, over the next month, fill in with the new tissue. In the meantime, the area should be kept clean especially after meals with salt water rinses or a toothbrush.

Your case is individual, no two mouths are alike. Do not accept well intended advice from friends. Discuss your problem with the persons best able to effectively help you: our office or your family dentist.

Brushing your teeth is encouraged and essential – just be gentle at the surgical sites.

Sleeping with the head elevated at 30-45 degrees with a couple of pillows can sometimes be more comfortable for people following oral surgery.

A dry socket is when the blood clot gets dislodged prematurely from the tooth socket. Symptoms of pain at the surgical site and even pain to the ear may occur 2-5 days following surgery. Call our oral surgery office if this occurs.

If you are involved in regular exercise, be aware that your normal nourishment intake is reduced. Exercise may weaken you. If you get light headed, stop exercising.

If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our oral surgery office.