Oral Surgery Post-Operative instructions
Table of Contents
- The dentist may have given you gauze squares on which to bite down. If you are biting on gauze, keep applying pressure onto the surgical area to stop bleeding and to encourage a blood clot to form. You can discard the gauze after 30 minutes. Most of the bleeding should stop by the time you leave the dental office.
- Slight bleeding can be expected for the first and second day following surgery. If you see a small amount of blood in your saliva, do not worry. You can swallow your saliva; you will not get sick.
- If bleeding becomes heavy, take 2 pieces of extra gauze, fold it into a little square, wet it with water and bite down for 30 minutes; this should stop the bleeding. Alternatively, try biting on a pre-moistened tea bag. Tea has a compound called tannic acid that acts as a natural hemostatic agent (causes blood to clot).
- If bleeding does not stop after a few days, or continues to be heavy, give your dentist in Toronto a call. If the dentist cannot be reached, visit your local hospital emergency room.
Avoid agitating the healing area
- The goal is to keep the blood clot in the socket for healing, preventing bleeding and preventing a condition known as Dry Socket.
- Avoid forceful movements in the mouth, such as sucking through a straw, vigorous rinsing, and forceful spitting, for at least 24 hours.
- If you have to expel liquids from your mouth, allow the liquid to drool out of your mouth over a sink only.
- Dry socket is a painful condition where the blood clot in the socket is lost, exposing the small nerve endings in the socket to open air. Moreover, it will take longer for the socket to heal.
- Swelling may occur over the course of 48 hours after the extraction and is a normal part of healing. The amount of swelling will depend on how difficult the tooth removal was. The more difficult the tooth extraction, the more swelling can be expected.
- To minimize swelling, place an ice bag wrapped or bag of frozen peas (wrapped in a towel) over the cheek, on and off for a few minutes at a time.
- If you were prescribed pain medications, take them as prescribed. You may use pain medication such as Tylenol or Advil. They are available over-the-counter at your local pharmacy.
- Ask your dentist what dosage is right for you, but if you do not have a pre-existing medical condition of allergies, 1000mg acetaminophen (Tylenol) with 600mg ibuprofen (Advil) every 4-6 hours or as needed is a very powerful combination.
- If you were prescribed Tylenol #3, do not operate your car or other heavy machinery.
- Your dentist may not always prescribe antibiotics following oral surgery if you are healthy and the tooth is not infected. Just follow the post operative instructions given to you to ensure that the area stays as clean as possible.
- If your dentist prescribed antibiotics for you, take them as prescribed until finished. If you start feeling worse after the third day following surgery, or if you start having a difficult time swallowing or breathing, contact your dentist or seek help at your local hospital emergency room.
- Your dentist will typically arrange for a follow up visit in a week. If the dentist sees signs of infection, antibiotics will be prescribed then.
Keeping the Area Clean
- No brushing, flossing, or rinsing your mouth for the next 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, you may start gently rinsing the healing socket with warm salt water. If your dentist provided you with a plastic syringe, fill it with salt water and gently rinse the healing socket after every meal.
- After 24 hours, you may also start brushing and flossing your other teeth like normal, except no toothpaste.
- You can re-introduce toothpaste after 48 hours. We do not want toothpaste particles getting trapped in the healing socket.
Avoid Smoking and Alcohol
- Smoking tobacco products and drinking alcohol will prevent healing and increase the chances of infection or dry socket. Therefore, avoid all smoking and alcohol for at least two weeks.
Avoid Vigorous Exercise
- Too much physical activity may cause you pain and cause the extraction socket to bleed. Normal activity can resume after a few days. Try to keep your head elevated as much as possible.
- It is important to eat well and stay hydrated in the days following oral surgery.
- Have a soft diet; think scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, smoothies, yoghurt, soft rice, porridge, or congee.
- Nothing too hot or cold for the first 48 hours.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Avoid spicy and acidic foods that can irritate the healing area.
- Avoid small nuts and seeds that can get trapped in the healing socket.
Frequently asked questions
How long does it take to recover from a tooth extraction?
Typically, your dentist will ask that you at least take about 48-72 hours to relax afterward so the treatment area is allowed to clot. After that, a patient should be able to return to normal physical activity. Each person’s healing potential is different. But typically it will take 4 weeks for soft tissues like gums to heal completely. For bone, it will take up to 6 months for it to fill in completely.
How long does it take for stitches to dissolve in your mouth?
Your dentist may have applied stitches after removing your tooth. Some stitches will dissolve on their own, others will not.
If your dentist used dissolvable stitches, it could take up to 2 weeks for them to dissolve away.
If your dentist placed non-dissolvable stitches, you will have a follow up appointment in a few weeks where the dentist will remove the stitches for you.
Sometimes, stitches can loosen for dissolve prematurely. If the stitches are falling apart sooner than expected, contact your dentist to see if an earlier appointment is required.
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