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Post-Op Instructions

It is important to follow instructions after you have oral surgery to ensure proper healing and to avoid complications. The instructions listed below are guidelines. After your surgery the doctor or dental assistant will give you full instructions on how to properly recover from surgery.

What You Should Do Following Extractions and Other Oral Surgery Procedures

A certain amount of bleeding, pain, and swelling is normal. Reduce your activity as much as possible for several hours. Avoid spitting, rinsing and drinking through a straw for 24 hours. Do not rinse your mouth or brush your teeth for 24 hours. These activities may hinder formation of a blood clot, which is necessary for proper healing.

Do not be alarmed if your vision is blurred for a time following anesthesia or if a “black and blue” bruise should appear at the site of an injection. The arm also may be bruised, swollen and tender to touch due to the IV.

Please follow the simple instructions below to minimize complications and help ensure prompt recovery.

A Certain Amount of Bleeding Is To Be Expected Following Surgery

Slight bleeding, oozing, or redness in the saliva is not uncommon. Excessive bleeding may be controlled by first rinsing or wiping any old clots from your mouth, then placing a gauze pad over the area and biting firmly for 30 minutes. Repeat if necessary. If bleeding continues, bite on a moistened tea bag for 30 minutes. The tannic acid in the tea bag helps to form a clot by contracting bleeding vessels. To minimize further bleeding, do not become excited, sit upright, and avoid exercise. If bleeding does not subside, call for further instructions.

To Relieve Pain

For moderate pain, 1 or 2 tablets of Tylenol or Extra Strength Tylenol may be taken every 3-4 hours or Ibuprofen, (Motrin or Advil) 200 mg tablets may be taken every 3-4 hours. Be sure to take pain medication on a full stomach to avoid an upset stomach.

For severe pain take the tablets prescribed for pain as directed. The prescribed pain medicine will make you groggy and will slow down your reflexes. Do not drive an automobile or work around machinery. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Pain or discomfort following surgery should subside more and more every day. If pain persists, it may require attention and you should call the office.

To Minimize Swelling

The swelling that is normally expected is usually proportional to the surgery involved. Swelling around the mouth, cheeks, eyes and sides of the face is not uncommon. This is the body’s normal reaction to surgery and eventual repair. The swelling will not become apparent until the day following surgery and will not reach its maximum until 2-3 days post-operatively. However, the swelling may be minimized by the immediate use of ice packs. Two baggies filled with ice, or ice packs should be applied to the sides of the face where surgery was performed. The ice packs should be left on continuously while you are awake. After 48 hours of ice, moist heat should be applied to area until all swelling is gone. If swelling or jaw stiffness has persisted for several days, there is no cause for alarm. This is a normal reaction to surgery. Thirty-six hours following surgery the application of moist heat to the sides of the face is beneficial in reducing the size of the swelling.

Oral Hygiene is Important

Twenty-four hours after surgery, rinse mouth gently with a solution of one-half teaspoonful of salt dissolved in a glass of water. Repeat after every meal or snack for 7 days. Rinsing is important because it removes food particles and debris from the socket area and thus helps prevent infection and promote healing. Also 24 hours after your surgery you can resume your regular tooth brushing, but avoid disturbing the surgical site so as not to loosen or remove the blood clot. Keep your mouth very clean.

Discoloration

In some cases, discoloration of the skin follows swelling. The development of black, blue, green, or yellow discoloration is due to blood spreading beneath the tissues. This is a normal post-operative occurrence, which may occur 2-3 days post-operatively. Moist heat applied to the area may speed up the removal of the discoloration.

Antibiotics

If you have been placed on antibiotics, take the tablets or liquid as directed. Antibiotics will be given to help prevent infection. Discontinue antibiotic use in the event of a rash or other unfavorable reaction. Call the office if you have any questions.

Women please note: Some antibiotics may interfere with the effectiveness of your birth control pills. Please check with your pharmacist.

Nausea and Vomiting

In the event of nausea and/or vomiting following surgery, do not take anything by mouth for at least an hour including the prescribed medicine. You should then sip on coke, tea or ginger ale. You should sip slowly over a 15-minute period. When the nausea subsides you can begin taking solid foods and the prescribed medicine. If you still continue to experience the nausea and vomiting call our office at once.

Maintain a Proper Diet

After general anesthetic or IV Sedation, soft to liquid diet should be taken at first. Do not use straws. Drink from a glass. The sucking motion can cause more bleeding by dislodging the blood clot. You may eat anything soft by chewing away from the surgical sites. High calorie, high protein intake is very important. Nourishment should be taken regularly. You should prevent dehydration by taking fluids regularly. Your food intake will be limited for the first few days. You should compensate for this by increasing your fluid intake. At least 5-6 glasses of liquid should be taken daily. Try not to miss a single meal. You will feel better, have more strength, less discomfort and heal faster if you continue to eat. Add solid foods to your diet as soon as you are comfortable to chew.

Caution: If you suddenly sit up or stand from a lying position you may become dizzy. Therefore, immediately following surgery, if you are lying down, make sure you sit for one minute before standing.

Other Complications

If numbness of the lip, chin, or tongue occurs there is no cause for alarm. As stated before surgery, this is usually temporary in nature. You should be aware that if your lip or tongue is numb you could bite it and not feel it so be careful. Call our office if you have any questions about this.

Slight elevation of temperature immediately following surgery is not uncommon. If the temperature persists, notify the office. Tylenol or ibuprofen should be taken to reduce the fever.

You should be careful going from the lying down position to standing. As you were not able to eat or drink prior to surgery, and it is difficult to take fluids, and taking pain medications can make you dizzy. You could get light-headed when you stand up suddenly. Before standing up, you should sit for 1 minute then get up.

Occasionally, patients may feel hard projections in the mouth with their tongue. They are not roots; they are the bony walls, which supported the tooth. These projections usually smooth out spontaneously. If not, they can be removed.

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. The muscles get swollen. The normal act of swallowing can then become painful. This will subside in 2-3 days.

Stiffness (trimus) of the jaw muscles may cause difficulty in opening your mouth for a few days following surgery. This is a normal post-operative event, which will resolve in time.

Sutures

Sutures are placed in the area of surgery to minimize post-operative bleeding and to help healing. Sometimes they become dislodged; this is no cause for alarm. Just remove the suture from your mouth and discard it. The sutures will be removed approximately 1 week after surgery. The removal of sutures requires no anesthesia or needles. It takes only a minute or so, and there is no discomfort associated with this procedure. So it’s really nothing to worry about.

Care of Mouth After Oral Surgery

  • Do not rinse or spit for 24 hours after surgery.
  • Keep fingers and tongue away from socket or surgical area.
  • Use ice packs on surgical area (side of face) for first 24-48 hours; apply ice 20 minutes on – 10 minutes off.
  • For mild discomfort, take Tylenol or Ibuprofen every 3- 4 hours.
  • For severe pain, use the medication prescribed to you.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. (Do not use a straw.)
  • If the muscles of the jaw become stiff, you can massage and exercise your jaws. Chewing gum at intervals will help relax the muscles. After 24-48 hours, the use of warm, moist heat to the outside of your face over these muscles will help get rid of the stiffness.
  • After the first post-operative day, use a warm saltwater rinse following meals for the first week to flush out particles of food and debris, which may lodge in the surgical area. (1/2 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Mouthwash can be added for better taste.)
  • Diet may consist of soft foods, which can be easily chewed and swallowed. No seeds, nuts, rice, popcorn, etc.
  • A certain amount of bleeding is to be expected following surgery. Applying pressure to the surgical area using small rolled gauze for 30-60 minutes controls bleeding. After that time, remove the gauze and then you may eat or drink. If bleeding persists, a moist tea bag should be placed in the area of bleeding and bite firmly for one hour straight. This will aid in clotting blood. Repeat if necessary. If bleeding still persists, call our office.
  • We suggest that you do not smoke for at least 5 days after surgery. Nicotine may break down the blood clot and cause a “dry-socket”.

Please feel free to contact us if any doubt arises as to your progress and recovery.

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