What To Do Before and After Surgery
If you are wondering what to do before and after surgery, we have answers for you. Below are the surgical instructions for several of our most common surgical procedures. If you have any questions, talk to your surgeon or your surgical team–we are more than happy to walk you through any concerns you may have about your procedure or recovering from it.
Remember, these are general pre- and post-operative instructions. Your case is unique to your health and circumstances. Your surgeon may provide you with additional or different instructions than what is written below. If that is the case, always follow the instructions of your oral or maxillofacial surgeon about what to do before and after surgery.
You will experience some pain and swelling once your tooth is extracted. Apply an icepack to the area to keep swelling down. Take your pain medications as prescribed. Swelling and discomfort should subside within 48 hours.
If pain medications taken as prescribed do not seem to be working, contact our office immediately.
If you are prescribed antibiotics, take the entire recommended course, even if signs of infection are gone.
Drink plenty of fluids and eat soft foods only for a day or two after your procedure. You can resume eating normally as soon as you are pain-free.
For continued oral health, you should resume your normal brushing and flossing habits 24 hours after your procedure. This will speed healing and prevent harmful bacteria from growing around the site. Just brush around the extraction site carefully and do not use any mouthwash containing alcohol–it will burn terribly.
You should be able to return to your daily activities within 2-3 days after tooth extraction. If you experience heavy bleeding, continued swelling, or extreme pain for two to three days after your appointment, contact us immediately at 501-510-1143.
If you believe you are experiencing an allergic reaction to your prescribed medication (trouble breathing or swallowing, swelling of the face, tongue or throat, etc.), go to the ER immediately and contact us on your way or after you have received emergency treatment.
After Multiple Dental Extractions
You should expect a small amount of bleeding after multiple dental extractions. If bleeding occurs, simply place a gauze pad over the affected area and gently bite down. This will staunch the flow and help promote clotting. If the bleeding continues, you can also use a moist tea-bag for 30 minutes.
Avoid hot liquids, exercise, and elevate your head to prevent excessive bleeding. If the bleeding lasts more than a few hours or is still bleeding after a full day, contact our office immediately. Do not remove your denture unless the bleeding is severe. Some oozing around the sides of your dentures is normal if a little unsettling.
To reduce swelling, use ice packs on the side of your face where extraction occurred. Only apply ice packs externally–never inside of your mouth. You should only apply ice for the first 36 hours after your procedure. Apply it continuously–30 minutes on and 30 minutes off–while you are awake.
Pain and Medication
For mild pain, you can take over the counter anti-inflammatories like aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol as indicated on the bottle’s dosage information.
Your surgeon will also prescribe you pain medication in case of severe pain. If you are still in pain after two days, or if your pain increases over time instead of decreasing, contact the office immediately so we can help you.
If you have been prescribed an antibiotic, take it to completion, even if you feel no signs of infection.
Drink plenty of fluids–at least six glasses of water the first day. Juice, non-caffeinated tea, and broth are also an excellent way to replenish fluids.
Eat only soft, mild foods that are comfortable to eat and very easy to chew and swallow. The less you chew, the faster you’ll heal. Applesauce, soup, and mashed potatoes are all excellent choices. As you heal, you’ll be able to eat harder foods.
Do not rinse your mouth or gargle for the first day after your procedure, or while there is still bleeding, whichever comes last. On the second day, you can start rinsing with a warm, salt-water rinse every four hours and following your meals. This flushes out food particles and kills bacteria that like to grow in open surgical sites.
Use ½ teaspoon salt in a glass of lukewarm water. Do not use boiling water. After you have seen your dentist for a denture adjustment, you can take out your dentures and rinse them 3-4 times a day as well.
What to Expect After Multiple Dental Extractions
The experience of having multiple teeth extracted at once is different than having just one or two pulled. Your bone has to be smoothed and shaped prior to fitting your denture. You may experience any or all of the following conditions as a result of your procedure:
- Swelling and discoloration around the cheek, jaw, and eye
- Sore throat and swelling of the neck muscles
- Drying and cracking in the corners of the mouth
- Dry, cracked lips
- Slight fever
- Sore spots in the mouth
To reduce swelling, use ice for the first 36 hours and a warm cloth after 36 hours to bring down discoloration. You can treat dry skin and lips with a moisture-trapping ointment like Vaseline. While a slight temperature (one or two degrees above normal) is normal, if you develop a high fever or it lasts longer than 48 hours contact our office so we can make sure you don’t have an infection.
You should meet with your dentist within 24-48 hours of your extractions to have your dentures adjusted and address any sore spots. If you do not go to your appointment you risk severe denture sore spots, infection, and prolonging the healing process.
After Exposure of an Impacted Tooth
After you have an impacted tooth exposed or extracted do not disturb the wound. Leave any surgical packing alone–it exposes the tooth and allows it to heal. If the tooth falls out or dislodges, do not be alarmed.
Some bleeding is normal after the expose of an impacted tooth. You will likely see blood in your saliva for up to 24 hours after your procedure. Excessive bleeding that results in your mouth rapidly filling with blood can be controlled by biting gently on a gauze pad. Put pressure on the bleeding for 30 minutes. If bleeding continues, call the office for instructions.
After your procedure, it is completely normal to see some swelling in the jaw and cheek. Apply an ice pack to reduce the swelling. You can use ice continuously for the first 36 hours after your procedure. After 36 hours, use a warm cloth to bring down discoloration.
Be sure to drink a lot of fluids after your procedure. Water, broth, juice, and Gatorade are all excellent options. Avoid hot liquid and foods. Room temperature and cold are best for the first day or so. Eat soft foods like applesauce and mashed potatoes for the first day or so. You can return to a normal diet as soon as it is comfortable unless your surgeon tells you otherwise.
As soon as you feel anesthesia wearing off, take your prescribed and recommended pain medications as directed. Over the counter anti-inflammatories like Tylenol and ibuprofen can also be taken as directed by your surgeon.
Keeping up with your oral hygiene is the best way to avoid infection of your wound. Wait a full day, and then resume your normal dental routine. Brush as carefully as you can while avoiding direct contact with the surgical site. Rinse with warm salt water 4-6 times a day and after every meal. Mix ½ teaspoon with a cup of warm water. Continue until you are fully healed.
Keep physical activity to a minimum directly after your surgery. You should rest on the couch or in bed for at least a full day and allow your body to heal. Exercise can raise your blood pressure and cause throbbing and bleeding.
After Wisdom Teeth Removal
The removal of wisdom teeth is a serious surgical procedure and post-operative care should be followed carefully. If you follow these instructions, you will minimize pain, swelling, and the risk of developing an infection.
Immediately After Wisdom Tooth Removal
We will place a gauze pad at the surgical site–keep it in place for 30 minutes after your procedure. After 30 minutes, remove the gauze pad and throw it away. If you are still bleeding, insert a second gauze pad and repeat the process until you are no longer bleeding.
Do not touch your wound or rinse your mouth for at least 24 hours after your procedure. Dislodging or dissolving the blood clots can cause more bleeding and prolong the healing process.
If bleeding continues, bite down on a moistened tea bag for 30 minutes. Tea has tannic acid in it, which helps form blood clots by contracting the blood vessels. Try to avoid sitting fully upright, becoming excited, and exercise for a day or two after your surgery. Call us if bleeding is excessive or continues for more than a day or two.
The amount of swelling you experience will depend on how many wisdom teeth you had removed. Swelling around the jaw, mouth, cheeks, and eyes is very common. Even if you see little signs of swelling, use ice packs starting immediately after your procedure–30 minutes on and 30 minutes off. Continue this process for 36 hours after your procedure to keep swelling to a minimum. Swelling generally reaches it’s peak 2-3 days after surgery so it’s important to start treating it early.
After the initial 36 hours, use a warm cloth to help with the pain of swelling and to bring down discoloration.
For mild to moderate pain, take Tylenol or ibuprofen as directed. Your surgeon will prescribe you pain medication for severe pain. Follow the dosage instructions carefully and do not operate heavy machinery under the influence of pain medications. Avoid alcoholic beverages while you are taking medications.
If your pain lasts longer than a few days or seems to worsen over time, contact the office immediately.
Drink as much liquid as possible after your surgery. Drink from a glass and do not use a straw as this can dislodge clots and cause bleeding. Broth, juice, water, and Pedialyte are all excellent options. Soft foods only for at least 2-3 days after your surgery. Applesauce, mashed potatoes, and meal replacement shakes like Ensure are all excellent options.
It will feel uncomfortable, but try not to skip any meals. You will handle your medications better, heal faster, and feel much stronger if you take in as many nutrients as possible.
Keep Your Mouth Clean
For 24 hours after your surgery, do not rinse your mouth. You can gently brush your teeth, but avoid disturbing your surgical site. After 24 hours, begin rinsing 4-6 times a day with ½ teaspoon of salt dissolved in a lukewarm cup of water.
If you are prescribed antibiotics, take them as long as prescribed, whether or not you feel like you have an infection. This prevents an infection from developing and helps keep you from developing a tolerance to the antibiotic.
Nausea and Vomiting
If you are nauseous or you start vomiting after your surgery, do not take anything by mouth–including your medicine. Sip non-caffeinated tea, ginger ale, or coke slowly for 15 minutes or so to settle your stomach. Once your nausea subsides, take your medications and try to eat some soft foods or drink broth.
Other Possible Complications
- Numb lips, chin or tongue right after surgery
- Slight fever or elevation in temperature
- Dizziness or wooziness
- Feeling hard projections in your mouth with your tongue (these are the bony walls of the mouth and will usually smooth out on their own)
- Dry, cracked skin around the mouth or on the lips
- Sore throat
- Stiffness or difficulty opening mouth all the way
All of this is normal and should heal on its own. If you have a high fever or it persists after a day or two, contact the office immediately so we can check you for infection. For dry skin use Vaseline or a similar ointment. The numbness should wear off within 24 hours after the anesthesia is out of your system.
If you dislodge a suture, there is no cause for alarm. Simply remove it from your mouth and throw it away. Otherwise, we will remove them a week after your surgery. This takes only a moment and it is not painful.
There will be a cavity where your wisdom tooth used to be. Try not to prod and poke it with your tongue as this can disturb the healing. Rinse with saltwater while it is healing to kill any bacteria that may try to settle in the cavity. The cavity will heal and close over time.
After Bone Grafting
It is normal to find small granules in your mouth for a few days after bone grafting. The bone graft is made up of many small particles and sometimes they shed a little. To minimize dislodgement:
- Don’t disturb or touch the wound
- Avoid rinsing or spitting for 2 days
- Do not apply pressure with your tongue or fingers to the grafted area
- Do not lift or pull on the lip to look at your sutures
- Do not smoke
The second day after your surgery, you can rinse your mouth gently, but be very careful. If a partial flipper or denture was placed, you will likely have a follow-up appointment with your dentist to have it adjusted and learn how to place it and remove it properly.
After Sinus Lift
The bone that is grafted during a sinus lift is most commonly a combination of your own bone, freeze-dried bone, and artificial bone. If your own bone is going into the graft, you may have two post-surgery wounds–the recipient site and the donor site.
Do NOT blow your nose for at least four weeks after your surgery! Sniffing is fine. If you sneeze, do not hold your nose and try to sneeze with an open mouth. Gently wipe and dab your nose as needed.
Do not drink with a straw or spit. The suction caused by these actions can damage your healing sinuses. Flying and scuba diving should be avoided until you are completely healed. Avoid adding pressure to your sinuses with activities like blowing up balloons, playing musical instruments, lifting heavy objects, whistling, or any other activity that causes “bearing down” on the sinuses.
If you are experiencing pressure in your sinuses, take Sudafed, Mucinex, or other decongestants to reduce it.
Take your prescribed antibiotics as instructed and finish the entire course whether or not you feel any signs of infection.
On the day of your surgery, do not rinse or spit as this can disturb blood clots that promote healing. On the second day after your procedure, you can start gently rinsing with ½ teaspoon of salt dissolved in water at least 4-6 times a day and after every meal.
Wait 48 hours before brushing your teeth. When brushing and spitting, be very gentle.
Do not smoke for at least 2 weeks after surgery. The sucking motion can dislodge your bone graft and cause your augmentation to fail. We’re happy to prescribe a Nicoderm patch if you need one.
Wearing your Prosthesis or Nightguards
Unless you are instructed otherwise by your surgeon, you should not use partial dentures. If you are given a temporary “flipper” do not place it until the numbness wears off, and it should not touch the gums around your surgical site. This could lead to ulceration and a breakdown of the sutures, and the loss of your graft.
Post-Operative Problems or Complications
If you notice an unexpected flow of liquid or air between your mouth and nose, let us know immediately as this can be a sign of unexpected bone growth or healing.
If you experience nasal congestion or sinus pressure on the same side of your face as your procedure, let us know.
Let us know if you experience an increase in swelling that lasts longer than three days in your mouth, cheek, or under your eye.
After Dental Implants
Try not to disturb the wound after your surgery. Avoid rinsing or spitting the day of your surgery. There will be a metal abutment protruding through your gum–try not to disturb it.
Some bleeding is normal after a dental implant procedure. To control bleeding, bite down gently on a gauze pad for 30 minutes. Repeat until the bleeding stops. If the bleeding does not stop within 24 hours, contact the office for further instructions.
Swelling is normal after receiving a dental implant. Apply ice continuously for 36 hours after the procedure to reduce swelling. After 36 hours, you can use a warm cloth to bring down the discomfort and discoloration.
Drink plenty of fluids like broth, water, juice, and tea. Avoid hot liquids and hot or hard food. Soft foods should be eaten until you are pain-free. Then you can return to a normal diet.
Pain and Medicine
Take all pain killers and prescription medication as prescribed. You may take ibuprofen or Tylenol as soon as the anesthesia starts to wear off. Follow dosage instructions on the bottle.
If you are prescribed antibiotics to prevent a secondary infection, take the entire course, even if you do not feel like you have an infection.
Good oral hygiene promotes faster healing. Use any medicated rinse prescribed by your surgeon as instructed. The day after your procedure, you can start rinsing gently with warm saltwater. ½ teaspoon in a glass of warm water is enough. Rinse for 30 seconds and gently spit 5-6 times a day and after every meal. Be gentle when brushing your teeth.
Exercise raises your blood pressure which can cause bleeding so keep activity minimal for the first day or so after your surgery. After a few days, you should be completely back to normal.
If you have questions about what to do before and after surgery, contact your surgeon or surgical team. We’re happy to walk you through any questions or concerns.