The removal of impacted wisdom teeth is a serious surgical procedure. Post-operative care is very important. Unnecessary pain and complications, such as infection and swelling, can be minimized if these instructions are followed carefully.
A certain amount of bleeding is to be expected following surgery. Slight bleeding, oozing, or redness in the saliva is not uncommon. You can control excessive bleeding 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 black tea bag for thirty minutes. The tannic acid in the black tea helps to form a clot by contracting bleeding vessels. To minimize further bleeding, sit upright, avoid exercise, and do not become excited. If bleeding does not subside, call our office for further instructions.
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 postoperatively. However, the swelling may be minimized by the immediate use of ice packs. Apply 2 baggies filled with ice, or ice packs, to the side of the face where surgery was performed. The ice packs should be left on continuously while you are awake. After 36 hours, ice has no beneficial effect. 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.
For moderate pain, 1 or 2 tablets of Tylenol® or Extra Strength Tylenol® may be taken every 3–4 hours. Ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®) may be taken instead of Tylenol. Ibuprofen bought over the counter comes in 200 mg tablets: 2–3 tablets may be taken 4 times daily, not to exceed 3200 mg daily for an adult. Consult our practice for individuals under 18. Do not take the 2 medications at the same time.
For severe pain, the prescribed medication should be taken as directed. Do not take any of the above medications if you are allergic to them or have been instructed by your doctor not to take it. 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.
After general anesthetic or IV sedation, only liquids should initially be consumed. Drink from a glass and do not use straws. The sucking motion can cause more bleeding by dislodging the blood clot. You may eat anything soft by chewing away from the surgical sites. A high-calorie, high-protein intake is very important. Our staff can provide suggested diet instructions. 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 any meals. You will feel better, have more strength and less discomfort, and heal faster if you continue to eat.
CAUTION: If you suddenly sit up or stand from a lying position you may become dizzy. If you are lying down following surgery, make sure you sit up for 1 minute before standing.
No rinsing of any kind should be performed until the day following surgery. The day after surgery you should begin rinsing at least 5–6 times a day, especially after eating, with a teaspoon of salt mixed into 1 cup of warm water.
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 postoperatively. 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. Antibiotics will be given to help prevent infection. Discontinue antibiotic use in the event of a rash or any other unfavorable reaction, and contact our office immediately. Call the office if you have any questions.
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 nausea subsides, you can begin taking solid foods and the prescribed medicine.
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 usually no discomfort associated with this procedure.
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 void where the tooth was removed. The void will fill in with new tissue gradually over the next month. In the meantime, the area should be kept clean, especially after meals, with saltwater rinses or a toothbrush.
Your case is unique — no two mouths are alike. Discuss any problems with the trained experts best able to effectively help you: Dr. Smith and Dr. Ferguson or your family dentist.
Brushing your teeth is okay — just be gentle at the surgical sites.
A dry socket is when the blood clot gets dislodged prematurely from the tooth socket. Symptoms of pain at the surgical site and even pain near the ear may occur 2–3 days following surgery. Call the office if this occurs.
If you are involved in regular exercise, be aware that your normal nourishment intake is reduced. Exercise may weaken you. If you get light-headed, stop exercising.