Post-Operative Instructions

(Oral Surgery)

To Ensure Your Safety, Please Follow These Steps AFTER Surgery

Your oral surgeon and our team have done everything possible to provide you with the best anesthetic and surgical care. However, the ultimate success of your operation now depends on correct post-operative management. Be sure to follow your post-operative instructions carefully. Should any undue reactions or complications occur, please notify us by calling the office.

The Day of Surgery

  • DO NOT DISTURB THE AREA OF SURGERY WITH FINGERS: Avoid touching, spitting, rinsing, or vigorous chewing as initial healing may be delayed, active bleeding restarted, or infection introduced. Remove the gauze sponges that have been placed in your mouth one hour after surgery. Place fresh gauze as needed near surgical sites. Do not drink through straws or use mouth wash for the first week. Be cautious with hot temperature food and drinks (the heat will increase the bleeding instead of stopping it). Stick to room temperature to cool instead of hot.
  • SWELLING: There is swelling associated with any surgical procedure. In an attempt to minimize the swelling which may occur later, use an ice pack ½ hour on and ½ hour off for the first 24-48 hours following surgery. Nibble on crushed ice or hold iced water in your mouth over the area of surgery. The maximum amount of swelling usually occurs on the third or fourth day after surgery. Thereafter, swelling will slowly subside. Note: Swelling can last 1-2 weeks
  • PAIN: It is normal to have some discomfort following surgery. The prescription pain medication should be taken before the anesthetic wears off. Make sure to take the medication with 4-8 oz of liquid and some food. This will assure rapid assimilation in the body and minimize irritation to the stomach.
  • BLEEDING: Expect minor bleeding and some “oozing” from the operative site, which may take place for several days. However, excessive bleeding should be controlled. Place a piece of gauze or dry tea bag directly on the wound. Hold firmly for one hour by closing the teeth. Sit upright refrain from vigorous activity. Apply an icepack to the cheek of the treated area. If pressure doesn’t help, do not become alarmed. Bleeding after oral surgery is typically more scary than serious. Should active bleeding persist, call the office.
  • DIET: It’s important to drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration after having surgery. Do not use straws. Vitamin supplements will help during the healing process. If you are diabetic, maintain a normal diet, take your medications as usual, and monitor your blood sugar.
  • ACTIVITIES: It is normal to go home and sleep for several hours after a general anesthetic. Do not drive the day of surgery if you have had a general anesthetic or intravenous sedation. Pamper yourself – you just had surgery. Keep physical activity down to a minimum for the first week and slowly return to normal activities.
  • PRESCRIPTIONS: Take your prescriptions precisely as directed. If you have been placed on an antibiotic, it is important that you take ALL of the medication as directed. Do not take Ibuprofen/Motrin and the narcotic pain pill at the same time. Space them 3 hours apart. Please note that antibiotics may interfere with birth control pills; use another form of birth control during that cycle if taking antibiotics. Take any regularly scheduled medications (for diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) on a regular schedule, unless advised to do otherwise by your oral surgeon or your physician. If you have any reaction to the medication prescribed to you, please contact the office.

The Day Following Surgery and Thereafter

  • ORAL HYGIENE: Starting the day after surgery, you should keep your mouth as clean as possible. You may brush your teeth and gums. The cleaner you keep your mouth, the less chance of post-operative infections. You may use toothpaste, but not mouthwash. Rinsing the mouth with salt water after eating will also help. The water should be very warm, but take care not to burn yourself. Clean your mouth thoroughly after each meal and before going to sleep. There may be an opening where the tooth was removed. This area should be rinsed following meals. If catching food in the opening is a problem, we can show you how to clean it with an irrigating syringe at your post-op appointment. This opening will gradually fill in with new bone tissue.
  • STITCHES: Stitches may have been placed to control bleeding and aid in healing. These are usually dissolving stitches and will fall out by themselves. YOUR STITCHES ARE SUPPOSED TO FALL OUT.
  • FOR SWELLING AFTER THE FIRST 48 HOURS: Applying a warm, moist towel to the affected area several times a day may help relieve swelling, soreness, and stiffness of the jaw. If swelling tenderness, or pain should increase after the first few days, call the office.
  • PROLONGED NUMBNESS OF THE LOWER LIP OR TONGUE: After certain procedures (such as removal of lower wisdom teeth, removal of cysts of the jaw, etc) the nerve in the lower jaw or tongue becomes unavoidably bruised or injured. It may take several weeks to many months for feeling to return. It is rarely permanent. It is also normal for areas of the gums to feel numb after surgery.
  • DO’S: Drink lots of fluids (but not with a straw). Use an ice pack. Plan to take off work or school for a day or two if your surgery has been extensive. Relax and pamper yourself.
  • DONT’S: Do not rinse your mouth or spit the day of surgery. Do not drink or eat anything hot for a couple days as it may cause more bleeding. Do not drink alcohol or smoke for 5 days. Do not drive the day of surgery if you have had general anesthesia or IV sedation. Do not drive or operate machinery, prescriptions may cause drowsiness.
  • DON’T hesitate to contact your surgeon!

Dietary Recommendations

This diet is designed for the most extensive oral surgery. One may work up to a normal diet sooner in cases where less extensive procedures have been done.

  • FIRST DAY: We recommend that the first meal after oral surgery be only liquids. For example: room temperature broth, tea, juice, Jell-O. After the first meal, thicker liquids may be consumed. For example: milkshakes, creamed soups, milk, tomato juice, ice cream, pudding.
  • SECOND DAY: Continue with the thicker liquids.
  • THIRD DAY: Soft foods only. For example: mashed potatoes, pasta, eggs, soft bread.
  • FOURTH DAY: Try to resume your normal diet.