Sometimes the after-effects of oral surgery are quite minimal, so not all of these instructions apply to all patients. Common sense will often dictate what you should do. Your surgeon will review recommendations for pain control and instructions tailored to you and your procedure. If you have any questions, please call our office for clarification. Our telephone number is: 262-654-6770.
General Surgical Site Care
It is best to refrain from rinsing on the day of the procedure as it may cause continued bleeding. Avoid vigorous rinsing/spitting for one week.
Starting the day after your surgery, you may brush the rest of your teeth as normal, taking care to avoid brushing directly on the surgical site. You may also rinse your mouth gently after meals and before bed with warm salt water. In some cases a mouth rinse is prescribed; if so, use it as directed.
If you have stitches, they will dissolve on their own unless your surgeon told you otherwise.
Do not smoke for two weeks after your extraction, since this can cause delayed healing and worse pain. We do not advise smoking at all, but if you must resume do not do so until you are completely healed.
Bleeding after oral surgery is expected. You should make it a goal to get bleeding to stop the day of the procedure, before going to bed the first night. As with most other wounds, pressure will stop bleeding. If you have a bleeding disorder, or you are on a ‘blood thinner,’ it may take longer for the bleeding to stop.
Initially, gauze should be changed every 30-45 minutes, though the interval should lengthen as bleeding subsides. Gauze should be placed directly on the area that is bleeding, and firm pressure should be applied. You should see the gauze going from red to pink, and pink to clear, if you are doing it appropriately. If you feel you are not making progress after several hours, you should make sure the gauze is in the correct spot and enough pressure is being applied. If there is minor oozing but the bleeding has been mostly stopped with the use of pressure, you may place the gauze in a cup of heavily steeped black tea, squeeze out the liquid, and apply pressure using this tea-infused gauze. Avoid this in the first few hours, as there is no substitute for pressure to control bleeding.
If you are unable to get bleeding to stop before going to bed on the day of the procedure, do not sleep with gauze in your mouth because it is a choking hazard. Moreover, swallowing blood can make you feel sick and even cause vomiting. If you are still bleeding the morning after the procedure, and are unable to get it to stop promptly, please call the office.
As with any surgical procedure, some amount of swelling should be expected. Typically, swelling will worsen for a few days before it starts to subside. Post-operative day three is often the day of greatest swelling, though this is not necessarily accompanied by increased pain. (Note: the day of the procedure is considered post-operative day zero.) Removal of impacted wisdom teeth will often times result in significant swelling. If you are concerned with the appearance, please contact your surgeon.
Tips to help minimize swelling: Sleep with your head elevated above your heart. Ice will help with swelling when applied for the first 24-48 hours. Apply ice (use a gel pack or bag of frozen peas wrapped in a light towel) to the outside of your face over the surgical sites for 20 minutes, then remove for 20 minutes. After 2 days, some patients find heat more helpful for discomfort, though you can continue to use ice if you prefer. Do not sleep with heat in place.
After removal of wisdom teeth or multiple extractions many patients have stiffness when they open their mouths. Normal mouth opening typically returns within 7-10 days after the procedure, and you may gently stretch after the first few days if desired.
Unfortunately most oral surgery is accompanied by some degree of discomfort; the pain is typically the most bothersome for the first few days after surgery. Over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen (provided these are safe for you to take) offer the best pain control after tooth extractions. Take your first dose of pain medication before the numbing medication wears off to maximize your comfort.
Your team will review your pain management strategy with you, and will give you a prescription medication if necessary. Take all pain medications with food, and do not exceed recommended doses.
Under most circumstances, it is best to maintain a pureed diet for about one week after tooth extraction. Avoid crunchy foods and foods with small pieces (chips, rice, nuts, raw veggies, crusty bread) for at least one week. This will help prevent trauma to the incisions and food trapping in the extraction sites. The gum tissue will not close over the top of food if it is trapped in the extraction sites. The sooner the gum tissue closes, the faster you will be back to regular diet and hygiene. Older patients will need more time for the gum tissue to close. When you being to advance your diet, start with softer foods (fish, pasta, scrambled eggs) before going back to a completely normal diet.
You should avoid using drinking straws for at least one week after tooth extraction. Using drinking straws will increase the risk for developing a dry socket, which can be very painful.
Do not skip meals, especially if you are taking pain medication or antibiotics. Eating regularly will help you feel better and may contribute to better healing. If you are a diabetic, maintain your normal eating habits or follow instructions given by your doctor; aim to keep your blood sugar well controlled.
Avoid strenuous activity and exercise for at least 48 hours after you have finished bleeding. Once bleeding has been stopped for 48 hours, you may resume activity as tolerated.
Some Exceptions: Swimming should be avoided for at least one week after surgery. Also, it is best to avoid playing a wind or brass instrument for about one week after surgery.
If you were sedated or “put to sleep” for your procedure, drink clear liquids such as water or juice before eating soft foods. Do not drive, drink alcohol, or make important decisions for 24 hours after your procedure. A responsible adult must be present with you for 24 hours after the procedure.