Post-operative Instructions

Proper care of the mouth after surgery has an important effect on healing. Swelling, discoloration, restricted jaw movement and discomfort can be expected following surgery, but can be minimized by following these instructions.

1. CONTROL OF BLEEDING: A certain amount of bleeding and/or oozing is normal and may occur for several hours after surgery. Using a gauze compress directly over the surgical site is the best way to control the bleeding. Leave the gauze in place for at least one hour, biting with firm pressure. After one hour, remove gauze, check for active bleeding and replace as needed. More frequent changing will increase the bleeding and hinder clot formation.

2. CONTROL OF SWELLING: Apply an ice pack to the side of the jaw for at least the first 36 hours; 15 minutes on and 5 minutes off. Do not be alarmed if the swelling increases during the first 3 to 5 days following surgery. This is completely normal. Keep your head elevated with 1 to 2 pillows while sleeping and resting for the next 2 to 3 days.

3. CONTROL OF PAIN: Eat before taking your prescribed pain medication. Ibuprofen may be used in between regular doses of your prescription pain medication, to aid in the control of your discomfort. If it is necessary that you work or attend school, do not take narcotic pain medication.

4. CONTROL OF NAUSEA: Small amounts of ice-cold 7-up or carbonated water, every hour for 5 to 6 hours, will usually help the nausea, as well as utilizing any anti-nausea medication prescribed for you.

5. EATING: Eat regular foods as you find comfortable; however, liquid or soft foods may be easier for the first few days. Eat well and frequently to help your body heal. A milk shake or smoothie is a good first option.

6. CLEANING YOUR MOUTH: DO NOT rinse your mouth for 24 hours following surgery. Beginning the day after surgery, brush your teeth, gums, and tongue and gently rinse your mouth frequently with warm salt water; ½ teaspoon of salt in 8 oz. of warm water. DO NOT spit, as this may increase bleeding and interfere with good clot formation.

7. BONE FRAGMENTS: Occasionally, during the healing process, small sharp fragments of bone may loosen and work through the gum tissue. These fragments, which are not roots, will usually take care of themselves, as your body removes them from the tissue. If they are persistent or bothersome, please contact our office and we can set up a return appointment.

8. NO SMOKING or using straws for a minimum of 72 hours after surgery. These activities increase the incidence of “dry sockets”.

9. PATIENTS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DRIVE, OPERATE MACHINERY OR MAKE ANY LEGAL DECISIONS AFTER THE ADMINISTRATION OF GENERAL ANESTHESIA, I.V. SEDATION OR NARCOTIC PAIN MEDICATION FOR A PERIOD OF 24 HOURS.

10. Antibiotic medication may interfere with the effectiveness of birth control medications. Please use additional means of birth control while taking your antibiotic.

11. If you have been taking pain medications prescribed by our doctor and find that you need additional medication, you must arrange to have the prescription filled during working hours. Request for pain medication from the on call doctor, after hours and on weekends will be denied. This policy has been implemented due to the misuse of drugs in our community. The doctor on call may not always be the doctor who provided your treatment, and may not be familiar with your needs. We apologize for the inconvenience, but request your cooperation.

12. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS FOLLOWING SURGERY, PLEASE CALL THE OFFICE DURING NORMAL BUSINESS HOURS, SO WE CAN PROMPTLY ADDRESS YOUR CONCERNS.

For a printable version of these instructions, please click here.