Home Care Instructions

Home Care After Oral Surgery Procedures:

Taking care of your surgical site is very important and will help keep the area clean, aid with healing, and help to prevent potential complications. Home care instructions can vary depending on the oral surgery procedure performed.  Below are some general guidelines that can be applied to most procedures. Ask your surgeon if you have any questions about your particular recovery instructions.

Use of Gauze:

Gauze is typically placed over a surgical site the day of surgery to help with bleeding.  Small amounts of pink to red coloration on the gauze or in saliva is common for the first 24-48 hours and may happen intermittently. Placing gauze over the area helps to minimize this bleeding and aid with your comfort.

Always dampen gauze with a small amount of tap water before placing over the extraction site. Once placed in the mouth, bite down directly on the gauze for 30 minutes.  Firm, continuous pressure is necessary to stop the bleeding.  Avoid talking, eating, or removing the gauze to “check the site” during the 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the gauze and repeat this process an additional time with a new piece of gauze. If you run out of gauze, black tea bags can be damped with tap water and used in the same way as gauze. If you notice steady, persistent, bright red blood or see excessive blood pooling in your mouth that you are unable to stop with gauze, please call our office right away.

Swelling: 

After an oral surgery procedure, there will be some swelling of the gum tissues around the surgical sites.  This can be present for several days and last up to one week after the procedure. You may also notice some facial swelling over the cheek region. Swelling typically develops over the first 1-2 days after the procedure and can peak 2-4 days after the surgery. Some mild bruising may develop over the skin near the surgery site 2-4 days after the procedure and lasting up to a week.  If you are concerned about the amount of swelling that has developed, please contact our office.

Ibuprofen (Motrin and Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol):

These medications are the most commonly used medications for management of pain or discomfort after oral surgery procedures.  These will help not only to minimize pain but also aid in reducing potential swelling.

Ibuprofen is typically prescribed as 600mg to be taken every 6 hours.  This can be taken up to 5-7 days post-operatively if the patient has no medical reason to avoid this medication.

Acetaminophen is typically prescribed as 500mg to be taken every 6 hours. This can be done up to 5-7 days post operatively if the patient has no medical reason to avoid this medication. 

Please discuss any medication or dosage questions with your surgeon.

Narcotic (opioid) pain medication:

Post-operative discomfort is most often managed with only ibuprofen and acetaminophen, but you may be prescribed a narcotic (opioid) pain medication depending upon your procedure. Narcotic pain medication is generally only necessary during the first 3-4 days after surgery. It can be taken alternating with or at the same time as ibuprofen. 

Discomfort after oral surgery procedures is most commonly felt 1-2 days after the surgical procedure and lasting up to a week. Removal of bottom teeth may be more painful than top teeth and the discomfort may not be equal from one side of the mouth to the other. 

Take narcotic medication with food, as a possible side effect of this medication is an upset stomach. Narcotics can also cause constipation. Drink fluids and use an over-the-counter stool softener if this occurs. 

Narcotic pain medication is not a requirement after oral surgery procedures and should only be used as needed.  This type of medication requires a paper prescription and cannot be called into a local pharmacy over the phone.  If you do not use all of your narcotic pain medication, please return it to your local pharmacy for proper disposal.  Discuss any questions about medication with your surgeon.

Antibiotics: 

After your procedure, you may be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection and help ensure healing.  This medication should be started the day your procedure was completed. If you are nauseated, the medication can wait until morning. It is recommended to take this medication with food and/or a probiotic, as antibiotics can cause your stomach to become upset. If you experience gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhea, please contact our office.

Ice application:

Ice packs can help with post-operative swelling and pain discomfort. Apply the ice pack to the outside of the face over the cheek regions where the oral surgery procedure was completed. Do not place the ice pack inside your mouth, directly on the surgical site. During the first 24 hours after a procedure, apply the ice packs for 30 minutes at a time and then remove the ice packs for 30 minutes. Repeat this process as necessary.  Do not leave the ice in place for more than 30 minutes at a time, as this may damage your skin.  You do not need to apply ice to the areas while you are sleeping at night.

Local anesthesia: “feeling numb”

In almost all oral surgery procedures, local anesthesia will be administered. This results in the area of the surgery being “numb.” This feeling of numbness typically can last between 2-4 hours.  At times, your oral surgeon may administer a long-lasting local anesthetic, that can last up to 8 hours.  This type of local anesthetic is commonly administered after third molar/wisdom tooth removal for comfort.  

Diet: “What can I eat?”

It is important that you eat a healthy diet after your oral surgery procedure. Proper nutrition will aid in the surgical site healing. Foods that are typically well tolerated right after surgery are soft and cool such as yogurt, ice cream, or smoothies. Additional foods such as soup, pasta, macaroni, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, and cottage cheese, are also safe to eat.  

You will want to eat these recommended foods for up to a week and avoid chewing directly over the surgical area. Avoid food items that are sharp, crunchy, or sticky like chips, crackers, peanuts, toast, rice or fruits with lots of seeds. Do not use a straw while healing, as the suction may disturb the surgical site. 

Oral Hygiene after oral surgery: “what should I do?”

Good oral hygiene after oral surgery is extremely important. This will help the surgery site to heal, prevent infection, and to lesson discomfort in the area.  Brushing your teeth twice per day is recommended, and specific instructions regarding your procedure will be provided.  You can start brushing your teeth as soon as the same day as your procedure. If you are unsure, ask your surgeon for brushing techniques and information.