Oral surgery requires proper post-operative care.
These instructions will guide you in caring for yourself or for others who have had surgery and are an important part of a successful recovery.
1. Bleeding: You have been given gauze to use at the surgical site. Place gauze packs directly over the site, maintaining firm pressure and replacing every 30 – 45 minutes until most of the bleeding has stopped. Take gauze out to consume food and liquids and then replace gauze. The gauze should be discontinued when the color of the blood, on the gauze, has changed from a bright red to a light pink. If bleeding persists, place a cool moistened tea bag directly over the surgical site and maintain firm pressure for at least 30 minutes. The tannic acid in the tea helps the blood vessels to constrict to minimize bleeding. It is normal to have mild oozing for up to 24 hours
2. Pain: You may have been prescribed prescription pain medication to help control your post-operative discomfort. Become familiar with the possible side effects before taking. We recommend that you take your first dose of pain medication within an hour or two following surgery. This will allow the medication to be absorbed into your bloodstream before the local anesthetic wears off. To avoid nausea, take medications with food. If your pain seems to be increasing after three or four days, you should call our office. Narcotic pain medications cannot be written or refilled after hours or on weekends.
3. Swelling and/or Bruising: Facial swelling or bruising following oral surgery is quite normal and will usually reach its peak during the first 72 hours and may take one to two weeks to completely resolve. To help minimize swelling, apply ice packs during the first 24-48 hours, 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off. Keep the head elevated while sleeping for the first few nights following surgery. If swelling appears to be increasing after three or four days, you should call our office.
4. Diet: It is important to guard against dehydration following oral surgery by increasing your fluid intake. Avoid hot drinks or foods for the first 24 hours as they can increase the bleeding. Lukewarm or cold is best. Avoid using a straw for the first 72 hours as this may dislodge the clot. Eating soft foods will be the most comfortable, but resume a normal diet as soon as you are comfortable doing so. You will have more strength and heal faster if you continue to eat.
5. Oral Hygiene: Good oral hygiene is essential for optimum healing. Food or bacteria left in the mouth will irritate the surgery site and invite infection. You can gently brush your teeth and begin rinsing with 1 tsp salt per 8 oz warm water the day after surgery. You may have been given a small syringe (home care instrument) to help keep the area clean. Use this syringe filled with warm salt water to flush the socket out after meals and before bed. You can begin using this 10 days after surgery. Using it sooner can dislodge the clot.
6. Activities: Be sure to get plenty of rest during your healing process. You may resume normal activity as soon as you feel up to it. Do not smoke or vape cigarettes or marijuana for at least 72 hours, as smoking will irritate the oral wound, delay healing, and can lead to a dry socket.
7. Sutures: Sutures may have been used. In most cases, the sutures will dissolve within a week. If non-dissolving sutures were used, we will schedule you to come in so that we can remove them.
8. Antibiotic: If an antibiotic was prescribed to you, it is very important that you take it as directed. Be sure to become familiar with the possible side effects. Some antibiotics have been shown to interfere with the effectiveness of birth control pills.
9. “Sock-It” gel: If you were given a syringe of “Sock-It” gel, you should begin using it on the day of surgery after the bleeding has subsided. In some cases, we will open your syringe and use it in the extraction site during your surgery and send the remainder home with you. It is most beneficial if you apply it three or four times a day until gone, following salt water rinses.
10. Bone Fragments: Small, sharp fragments of bone may work up through the gum tissue during the healing process. This is nature’s way of reshaping the ridge and is completely normal. Most bone fragments will shed on their own but will occasion- ally require additional treatment to remove.
11. Oral Sedation/General Anesthesia: Under no circumstances may you drive or operate machinery for 24 hours following surgery if you have had oral sedation, general anesthesia, or while taking prescription pain
We welcome and encourage any post-operative questions or concerns you may have. Please call our office if needed. Our answering service can reach us even when the office is closed.
Side effects may vary with the complexity of the surgical procedure. In addition to swelling, bleeding and other conditions discussed above, the following may occur:
Stiffness of the jaw muscles may cause difficulty in opening your mouth. This should resolve within a few days.
EARACHE, HEADACHE OR SORE THROAT
You may experience any of these conditions temporarily as a result of your surgery. Your other teeth may also ache. This is called sympathetic or referred pain and is also a temporary condition.
Numbness of the lower lip, chin, and/or tongue on the side of surgery may develop. This is called “paresthesia” and though in rare cases it may be permanent, it is usually a temporary condition that will correct itself within a few days to several months.
Black and blue marks may occur on the cheeks and chin, or under the eye, near the area of surgery. This may begin as swelling, before resulting in discoloration by the second or third day. The color may progress from black and blue to yellow and green and may progress down your face onto your neck. It will gradually disappear over a week or two and may be helped by moist external heat.
Your body temperature may be elevated during the first day or two. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids. If fever persists, call our office.
If the corners of the mouth are stretched, they may dry and crack. Use a lip balm or other ointment to keep your lips moist.
Occasionally the vein in your arm used to administer the anesthesia during surgery becomes tender. This indicates an irritation of the vein and usually responds well to applied heat. Should the area become swollen, red, warm and very tender, call our office.
Rarely, a localized infection may occur in the surgical site in the weeks following surgery. If you have a sensation of increased pain, fever, increased swelling or stiffening of the jaw after the first 48 to 72 hours after surgery, call our office.
Occasionally, small sharp fragments of bone may work up through the gum tissue during the healing process. This is more common after multiple extractions and is nature’s way of reshaping the ridge. This process of “shredding” slivers of bone may last anywhere from one to four months. Impressions for bridges, partial dentures or full dentures should be postponed until the ridge is well healed, usually six weeks.
Be sure to contact us if you have any concerns about your progress or recovery. Our 24-hour answering service informs us of any emergencies.