The removal of impacted teeth is a serious surgical procedure. Post-operative care is very 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 a half hour. After this time, the gauze pad should be removed and discarded.
- Eat something smooth, like mashed potatoes, pudding or a smoothie, as soon as you can. This will coat your stomach so you can take the prescribed pain medications before the numbness wears off.
- Place ice packs to the sides of your face where surgery was performed. Refer to the section on swelling for explanation.
- Vigorous mouth rinsing or touching the wound area following surgery should be avoided. This may initiate bleeding by causing the blood clot that has formed to become dislodged.
- Restrict your activities the day of surgery and resume normal activity when you feel comfortable.
- A certain amount of bleeding is normal. Bite on gauze (do not chew) for 30 minutes. Then remove the gauze and check for bleeding.
- Repeat process with fresh gauze as needed until bleeding has diminished to a slow oozing or stops altogether.
- The gauze must be placed directly over the surgical sites to be effective.
- For continued bleeding, a tea bag dipped in cold water may be used. The tannic acid helps form a clot by contracting the blood vessels.
- Do not rinse or spit for the first 24 hours. This will disturb the blood clot and prolong bleeding. It is better to just swallow normally at this time.
- Do not use a straw for the first three days. Smoking is also very harmful to the blood clot and slows healing. It should be kept to a minimum during this time.
- Some bleeding or redness in the saliva for the first day or two is normal. If bleeding persists, or is excessive, please notify us.
- Fill your prescriptions and take your medications as directed.
- Take the first dose of pain medication after you eat something before the numbness wears off. We recommend you NOT take the medicine on an empty stomach, so take it with food such as mashed potatoes, pudding, smoothie or soup.
- Remember that certain antibiotics may render birth control pills ineffective. Therefore, all female patients who are currently taking birth control pills should use another form of contraception, during the entire cycle, when antibiotics have been prescribed.
- Do not operate machinery or drive a car for twenty-four (24) hours following your surgery if IV sedation has been administered or while taking the narcotic. If you are lying down following the surgery, make sure you sit for one minute before standing.
- Apply ice packs immediately to all areas of the face where surgery was performed.
- Place the ice packs on for 30 minutes and off for 30 minutes.
- Ice is helpful for the first 24 to 48 hours. Moist heat can be used after 2 days as needed.
Diet- Your nutrition is extremely important.
- Do not eat any foods that require chewing while you are numb, however, resume a normal diet as soon as possible after surgery. This helps the healing process.
- Prevent dehydration by drinking 5-6 glasses of liquids daily. No carbonated beverages for 5 days post surgery.
- Eating solid foods will help limber up the muscle stiffness in your jaws that normally accompanies surgery. Gentle exercise and chewing gum may also be helpful.
Swelling and/or Bruising
- Swelling following any surgical procedure is normal. This is especially true with removal of difficult or impacted teeth. The swelling and/or bruising may be minimal or extensive, and may persist for several days.
- Be sure to use the ice packs as recommended.
- It is normal to experience a slight earache or sore throat after surgery. There may also be a slight elevation of temperature for 24 to 48 hours. If the temperature continues after this period of time, please notify us.
Hygiene- Cleanliness is a must for a rapid and uncomplicated recovery.
- You should brush your teeth gently.
- The day after surgery, brush as you normally would and begin rinsing with a warm salt water solution (1/2 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water) four to five times per day for one week.
- We do not recommend the use of commercial mouthwashes as they contain alcohol that can irritate the wound.
- If you were given a syringe to use to help keep the areas clean, begin using it five to six days after surgery. Fill it with the warm salt water solution. Stick the curved tip slightly in the extraction site and flush it out. Do this twice a day for 7-10 days until the tissue starts closing. (usually within three to four weeks).
- Take the pain medication as prescribed for the first 24-36 hours. It is important to stay ahead of any discomfort. After 36 hours, you may take two-four 200mg tablets of Ibuprofen every 8 hours for moderate discomfort.
- Most surgical discomfort should begin to subside three to four days after surgery.
- If after three to four days of comfort you begin to have increased pain, throbbing, or earache in the area of surgery, please call our office.
- Often operations are performed very close to nerves. This can sometimes cause lingering numbness and altered sensations, especially of the lower lip or tongue. This condition is usually temporary and will generally disappear when swelling recedes and the nerve heals. Should numbness persist beyond the first week, please inform us.
- Sutures are placed in surgery sites to minimize post-operative bleeding and to aid in the healing process. The sutures will begin to dissolve and become dislodged a few days after surgery. Just remove the suture from your mouth and discard it. The extraction sites heal from the inside out, so it is normal for the gum tissue to be open still. These areas will continue to fill in over the next few weeks.