Oral Surgery Post-Operative Instructions

Oral Surgery Post-Operative Instructions

Please read this important information regarding proper post-surgical care.
For optimal healing, it will be important to follow these instructions exactly as we present them.

Pain:

Some discomfort is normal after oral surgery. You should begin taking pain medication prior to the local anesthetic wearing off. You may begin taking pain medication when you get home along with some food. For moderate pain, 1 or 2 tablets of Tylenol® or Extra Strength Tylenol® may be taken every 4 hours, not to exceed 3000 mg a day. Ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®) may be alternated with the Tylenol. Ibuprofen bought over the counter comes in 200 mg tablets; 2–3 tablets may be taken 4 times daily, not to exceed 3200 mg daily for an adult. Alternating between ibuprofen and Tylenol every 3–4 hours is ideal for managing most types of pain after oral surgery. Consult our practice for individuals under 18 years. Do not take any of the above medications if you are allergic to them or have been instructed by your doctor not to take them.

If you have been prescribed a narcotic pain medication (e.g., Tylenol #3®, Norco®, Vicodin®, Ultram®), please use as directed. You may alternate the narcotic with ibuprofen (or Motrin) if instructed to do so. Do not drive an automobile or work around machinery. Avoid alcoholic beverages or other sedative medications while on narcotic pain medication.

Bleeding:

Avoid rinsing or spitting on the day of the surgery. Gauze pad(s) should be placed directly over the surgical site and held in place with firm biting pressure. Replace the gauze pad(s) every 30–45 minutes. When the gauze pads have little or no blood on them, they are no longer necessary. Most of your bleeding will slow within 3–4 hours, but a small amount of bleeding is common for a few days. If bleeding continues, try out the tea bag technique. Moisten a tea bag with some water and place it over the surgical site and bite with firm pressure. Tannins in the tea bag can help form a good clot. If bleeding continues profusely (your mouth fills rapidly with blood), please call the office for further instructions.

Diet:

When you get home from surgery, start drinking clear liquids such as apple juice, tea, or broth. Always cool down any hot foods or liquids during the first 24 hours. Gradually progress your diet to include soft foods as tolerated. Soft foods are best for the first 2 weeks after surgery (for example, soups, eggs, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, meatloaf, fish, etc.). Avoid anything crispy, crunchy, or spicy.

Oral Hygiene:

Begin brushing your teeth the day after surgery. Be gentle as you get closer to the surgical site. In order to keep the surgical site clean, follow the rinsing instructions provided by the surgical team. Generally, you should begin rinsing 24 hours after the surgery. Rinsing should be done after meals with diluted mouthwash or warm salt water (1⁄2 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water). If you have been given a rinsing syringe, you may begin using this on the day after surgery. Gently flush out any debris/food from the surgical site using the rinsing syringe. If you have been given a prescription mouth rinse, please use it as directed. Do not smoke for at least 1 week. Smoking can cause dry socket, delayed healing, and infection.

Antibiotics:

Not all oral surgeries require an antibiotic. If you have been given an antibiotic, please take it as directed and until it is finished. If you develop a reaction to it, please stop it immediately and contact our office.

Swelling and Bruising:

Swelling and bruising are normal after surgery and a major cause of discomfort. Swelling usually will increase over the first 2–3 days and then start to resolve over the course of a week. Swelling can be reduced by using ice packs on the side of your face for 20 minutes on and then 20 minutes off. Continue icing for the first 24–48 hours. Also, minimize swelling by keeping your head elevated on 2 pillows for 3–4 days. Bruising will go away over the course of 1–2 weeks.

Activity:

Keep physical activities to a minimum immediately following surgery. If you exercise, throbbing or bleeding may occur. When you are able to tolerate your usual diet, and your energy levels are back to normal, you may resume your regular activity.

Sutures:

Most sutures that we place are the type that will dissolve or fall out on their own. They generally will fall out within 2–10 days; it is even safe to swallow them. Your surgeon will let you know if you have been given a different type of suture that needs to be removed.

Dry Socket:

A dry socket occurs when the healing blood clot gets prematurely dislodged from the socket. If this complication occurs, it usually happens 3–5 days after surgery. It is characterized by severe pain that is worsening rather than improving on post-operative day 3–5. Risk of dry socket can be minimized by following oral hygiene instructions and avoiding smoking. If you are concerned that you may have a dry socket, please contact our office. A home remedy that may be tried is placing some clove oil in the affected socket to help relieve pain.

We are here for you. If you have questions about your procedure, our center has 24-hour surgeon availability. If you would like to speak to your surgeon, please contact us at any time. During business hours, please call our office. After hours, please call our office, and our answering service will page a surgeon.