The removal of impacted teeth is a serious surgical procedure, so post-operative care is extremely important. Unnecessary pain, and the complications of infection and swelling, can be minimized if the instructions are followed carefully.
Immediately Following Surgery
- The gauze pad placed over the surgical area should be kept in place for at least 30 minutes. After this time, the gauze pad should be removed and discarded.
- Following surgery, avoid vigorously rinsing your mouth or touching the wound area, as this may dislodge the blood clot that has formed and initiate bleeding.
- Take the prescribed pain medications as soon as you begin to feel discomfort. This typically coincides with the diminishing of the local anesthesia.
- Restrict your activities the day of wisdom teeth extraction and resume normal activity when you feel comfortable.
- Place ice packs on the sides of your face where surgery was performed. Refer to the section on swelling for further explanation.
- A certain amount of bleeding is to be expected following surgery.
- Slight bleeding, oozing, or redness in the saliva is not uncommon.
- Place a gauze pad over area to control excessive bleeding and bite firmly for 30 minutes. Repeat if necessary.
- If bleeding continues, bite on a moistened tea bag for 30 minutes. Avoid rigorous activities, excitement, and sitting upright.
- If bleeding does not subside, call our doctors for further instructions.
- Swelling around the mouth, cheeks, eyes, and sides of the face is not uncommon. Swelling may not peak until at least 2–3 days after the procedure.
- Ice packs can minimize swelling. The ice packs should be continuously applied while you are awake. After 36 hours, ice has no beneficial effect.
- Swelling and jaw stiffness are normal reactions to wisdom teeth removal. After 36 hours, the application of moist heat to the sides of the face is beneficial in reducing the swelling.
- For moderate pain, 1 or 2 tablets of Tylenol® or Extra-Strength Tylenol® may be taken every 3–4 hours or 2–4 200 mg tablets of ibuprofen (Motrin® or Advil®) may be taken every 3–4 hours.
- For severe pain, take the tablets prescribed as directed.
- Do not drive an automobile or work around machinery.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages.
- If pain persists, it may require attention, and you should call our office.
- Follow a mostly liquid and soft-food diet after undergoing general anesthesia or IV sedation.
- Drink directly from a glass and do not use straws.
- You may eat anything soft by chewing away from the surgical sites.
- High-calorie, high-protein intake is very important throughout the healing process.
- You should prevent dehydration by drinking fluids regularly. At least 5–6 glasses of liquid should be taken in daily.
- Try not to miss a single meal.
- If you are lying down following wisdom teeth removal, make sure you sit for 1 minute before standing.
Keep the mouth clean
- No rinsing of any kind should be performed until the day following wisdom teeth removal.
- You can brush your teeth the night of surgery but rinse gently.
- The day after surgery, you should begin rinsing with a cup of warm water mixed with a teaspoon of salt at least 5–6 times a day, especially after eating.
- In some cases, discoloration of the skin follows swelling. This may occur 2–3 days following surgery. Moist heat applied to the area may speed up the removal of the discoloration.
- If you have been placed on antibiotics, take the tablets or liquid as directed. Discontinue antibiotic use in the event of a rash or other unfavorable reaction.
- Call the office if you have any questions.
Nausea and Vomiting
- In the event of nausea and/or vomiting, do not ingest anything by mouth for at least an hour.
- You should then sip on cola, tea, or ginger ale over a 15-minute period.
- When nausea subsides, you may begin eating solid foods and taking the prescribed medicine.
- If numbness of the lip, chin, or tongue occurs, there is no cause for alarm. This is usually temporary. Call our doctors if you have any questions.
- Slight elevation of temperature immediately following surgery is not uncommon. If high temperature persists, notify the office. Tylenol® or ibuprofen should be taken to reduce the fever.
- Taking pain medications can make you dizzy. You may become light-headed when you stand up suddenly. You should sit for at least 1 minute before standing up.
- Occasionally, patients may feel hard projections in the mouth with their tongue. These are the bony walls that supported the tooth and usually smooth out spontaneously. If not, they can be removed by our doctors.
- If the corners of your mouth are stretched, they may dry out and crack. Your lips should be kept moist with an ointment such as Vaseline®.
- Sore throats and pain when swallowing are not uncommon. This will subside within 2–3 days.
- Stiffness (Trimus) of the jaw muscles may cause difficulty in opening your mouth for a few days following surgery. This will resolve over time.
- Sutures are placed in the area of surgery to minimize post-operative bleeding and to help healing. Sometimes they become dislodged. Just remove the suture from your mouth and discard it. The sutures will be removed approximately 1 week after surgery by the doctor.
- The pain and swelling should subside more and more each day following surgery. If your post-operative pain or swelling worsens or unusual symptoms occur, call our office for instructions.
- There will be a cavity from wisdom tooth removal. The cavity will gradually fill in with the new tissue within a month following surgery. The area should be kept as clean as possible with saltwater rinses or a toothbrush, especially after meals.
- Do not accept well-intended advice from friends. Discuss any issues with our surgeons or your dentist, as these are the individuals who are best qualified to assist you and make recommendations.
- You may brush your teeth as long as you are gentle at the surgical sites.
- A dry socket occurs when the blood clot is dislodged prematurely from the tooth socket. Symptoms of pain at the surgical site or in the ear may occur 2–3 days following surgery. If you experience pain in these areas, contact our office immediately.
- If you exercise regularly, be aware that your normal intake of nourishment is reduced following surgery. Exercise may weaken you, so stop exercising if you feel light-headed or dizzy.