We want your recovery from oral surgery to be as comfortable and rapid as possible. Therefore, we have provided this step-by-step guide to help you care for yourself after surgery. We urge you to follow it carefully.
Having teeth removed is a significant surgery procedure that affects your whole body. While you may even “feel fine” it will take your body several days to recover. Following the following procedures may help you reduce your discomfort and promote more rapid, uncomplicated healing.
Put nothing in your mouth after midnight prior to your surgery, not even coffee, water, gum, mints, or lifesavers.
In the morning brush your teeth BUT DO NOT SWALLOW any paste, water, mouthwash, etc. It is normal for your mouth to feel dry.
You may take your prescription medication with just a sip of water, only if your doctor has instructed you to do so in the consultation visit.
Arrange for a responsible adult to take you home and stay with you for the first 24 hours after surgery.
We hate to bring this up but please be aware of the payments section of this web site prior to surgery. If you can’t comply, you will need to call our office prior to your surgery to make alternative arrangements.
To prepare for your at-home-recovery:
Plan for adequate time away from work, school, or other daily responsibilities to give your body time to heal properly.
Have ice and ice packs on hand.
Have plenty of carbonated beverages, fruit juices and water on hand. NO STRAWS!
Have soft foods stocked: yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream, soup, oatmeal, eggs, etc.
Wear comfortable clothes with short sleeves to your surgery appointment.
Nothing to eat or drink after midnight!
POST-OP DAY 1 (FIRST 24 HOURS):
On your way home:
Be sure you have you filled your pain medication prescription. If not do so now. Wait to take the medication until you have completed steps 2-6 to follow.
When you first arrive home: For the first 30 minutes keep firm, continuous pressure on the gauze over the surgery site. Afterwards, remove gauze. If bleeding has not stopped, place fresh gauze in your mouth. Bite down with firm, continuous pressure for another half hour. Remove gauze. Blood may ooze slightly after gauze is removed. A pinkish tinge to your saliva is normal.
Rest with head elevated, as in a recliner chair or with extra pillows. Expect to sleep most of the day.
Apply ice packs to the face over the surgery area to reduce swelling. Begin ice during the first hour and continue for 24 hours. Follow a schedule of 15 minutes on-15 minutes off. The ice is effective in reducing swelling only during the first 24-36 hours although swelling may continue for several more days.
In the first few hours after surgery: Drink a carbonated beverage to help settle your stomach. DO NOT USE A STRAW. A straw creates suction which could break down the blood clot at the surgery site, prolong bleeding and delaying healing. Smoking causes a similar problem. DO NOT SMOKE.
Drink a cold milk product about half an hour after the carbonated beverage. We recommend a milk shake. This helps minimize nausea that pain medication may cause. Those allergic to milk products may try juices or soup.
After you drink the product recommended above, take the first dose of pain medication as directed on the label. Continue to take medication as prescribed throughout the day.
Drink fluids frequently. Wake younger children every hour to have them drink fluids. This will minimize nausea.
Begin eating very soft foods today if it is comfortable.
IMPORTANT! DURING THE FIRST 24 HOURS – DO NOT
Rinse your mouth, spit, smoke, drink with a straw or brush your teeth.
POST-OP DAY 2/3 (48-72 HOURS)
Eat a soft diet. For health’s sake choose nutritious foods: scrambled eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, mashed bananas, applesauce, juices, and soups. Consider juicing vegetables and grinding meats in a blender. Baby food works well. You might want to add salt, pepper, or other spices to it. Some patients have recommended eating cream of rice or wheat topped with tomato, pesto, or cheese sauce.
Avoid hard foods that require chewing or that have small pieces that could enter the surgery site or break the forming blood clot. Such foods to avoid include, but are not limited to, granola, nuts, rice, popcorn, and small candies. A broken clot can lead to “dry socket”, which causes pain, delaying healing and may require additional healing.
About 24 hours after surgery start to rinse your mouth gently with warm water. Use 1/2 teaspoon salt to a glass of warm water. Rinse about once an hour while awake, roughly 10 to 12 times per day. Brush very gently in areas where incisions have been made or stitches placed. Brush the rest of your mouth thoroughly in your regular manner.
Continue to rest and drink 2-3 quarts of fluid per day. Both are vital to promoting healing and preventing infection.
Reduce swelling with gentle warm rinses and take your anti-inflammatory medications as prescribed. Take medication after putting some food or milk product in your stomach. Swelling is normal during this time and peaks on days two and three.
UNTIL YOUR FOLLOW-UP VISIT:
Continue to eat a very soft diet. Avoid vigorous chewing or small, hard foods.
Continue warm salt-water rinses and regular oral hygiene.
Maintain good fluid intake.
Do not smoke. Smoking may cause post-surgery complications to develop.
A week after the surgery, we will remove any stitches you may have received and inspect the surgery site to assure that proper healing is occurring.
That’s it. The process of having your teeth removed is successfully accomplished!
Q: How long should I keep pressure on the gauze?
A: Before you left our office we made sure that the bleeding was under control. We do recommend your leaving the gauze over the surgery site for at least 30 minutes after you arrive home. Bite down with firm pressure during that time. Then gently remove the gauze. If bright red blood flows from the surgery area, put a clean piece of moistened gauze in your mouth and again bite down with firm pressure for another 30 minutes. After that, bleeding should have eased. A pink tinge to your saliva is normal and may continue for a day or two.
Q: What should I do if I still notice blood on the gauze?
A: Remain calm. Have you been keeping FIRM CONTINUOUS pressure on the gauze? If not, do so for 30 more minutes. Do not talk or spit. Remain at rest during this time. You might try using a moistened tea bag wrapped in gauze on the surgery site. Tea bags contain tannic acid, which promotes clotting. Remove the bag and gauze after 30-45 minutes.
Q: What should I do if I feel nauseous?
A: Pain medication may cause some mild stomach upset. That is why we suggest you drink a milk product (like a milkshake) before your first dose of medication. Carbonated water or soda may also relieve an upset stomach.
Q: What can I do to relieve pain?
A: Begin taking prescribed pain medication as soon as possible after surgery. We recommend that you first eat something to alleviate nausea that pain medication can cause. Continue taking the medication on the prescribed schedule for the first day or two. After that time, take pain medication as needed in accordance with prescribed directions.
Q: How long will my recovery take? When can I return to work or to my normal routine?
A: You have undergone significant surgery and your body needs time to recover. Plan at least three or four days to rest from normal activity. How quickly you recover depends on how you cooperate with your body’s healing process (resting, drinking liquids, taking your medications, avoiding hard foods and vigorous chewing, rinsing gently, etc.). By following these guidelines, you will minimize complications such as infection and the breakdown of the blood clot (“dry socket”) and return to your routine more quickly.