Now that your oral surgery is complete, please follow these procedures to make yourself more comfortable, promote healing, prevent complications, and get the best outcome possible.
Upon Leaving the Office
Please go directly home. Do not stop to eat or drink; go directly home, especially if you were sedated. It is also advisable that, if you were sedated, you have someone stay with you for the next 4-6 hours.
First Hour/First 24 Hours
Bite down gently but firmly on the gauze packs that have been placed over the surgical areas, making sure they remain in place. This will help in the formation of the blood clot to form and begin the healing process. Do not change them for the first hour unless the bleeding is not controlled. If active bleeding persists after one hour, place a new folded gauze over the surgical site and bite down for another 30-60 minutes. This should be repeated as necessary.
After the blood clot forms, it is important not to disturb or dislodge the clot, as it aids healing. Do not rinse vigorously, suck on straws, smoke, drink alcohol or carbonated beverages, or brush teeth next to the extraction site for 24 hours. These activities will dislodge or dissolve the clot and retard the healing process. Limit vigorous exercise for the next 24 hours as this will increase blood pressure and may cause more bleeding from the extraction site.
Unfortunately, most oral surgery is accompanied by some degree of discomfort. You will usually have a prescription for pain medicine, and if you take the first dose before the local anesthesia wears off, you will be able to manage the discomfort better. Use the pain medication as directed, but please call the office if the medication doesn’t seem to be working. An ice pack or an unopened bag of frozen peas or corn applied to the area will help with pain and keep swelling to a minimum. If antibiotics are prescribed, continue to take them for the indicated length of time, even if signs and symptoms of infection are gone.
Bleeding should never be severe. If it is, it usually means that the packs are being clenched between your teeth rather than exerting pressure on the surgical areas. Try repositioning fresh packs directly over the surgical area. If bleeding persists or becomes heavy, you may substitute a tea bag dampened with warm water for 20-30 minutes. The tannic acid in the tea acts to activate the clotting factors in your blood. If bleeding remains uncontrolled, please call our office.
Swelling is often associated with oral surgery. You can minimize this by using a cold pack, ice bag, or bag of frozen peas or corn applied to the area of your face for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off during the first 48 hours. Also, keeping your head elevated will help. Sleep on 2 pillows or consider putting a pillow under your mattress to elevate your head for swelling control. After the first 2 days, switch from cold packs to moist heat to bring more circulation to the area and begin to help the swelling resolve. Swelling peaks on the second or third day and usually resolves over the next 4-7 days.
Drink lots of fluid and eat nutritious soft food on the day of surgery. You can eat normally as soon as you are comfortable. Eat any nourishing food that can be taken with comfort. If you were sedated, start with clear liquids such as apple juice, tea, and broth in case you are a little nauseated. If you tolerate this, you can move up to soft foods like soups, eggs, mashed potatoes, pasta, soft meat, and anything pureed. The temperature of the food doesn’t matter, but avoid extremely hot foods. Avoid foods like nuts, seeds, popcorn, hard breads, etc., that may get lodged in the socket area. Over the next several days, you can progress to solid foods at your own pace. It is important not to skip meals; if you take nourishment regularly, you will feel better, gain strength, have less discomfort, and heal faster.
Do not smoke because smoking reduces the blood flow, contaminates the healing wound, and frequently leads to infections.
It is important to resume your normal dental routine as soon as possible, even the day of surgery. This should include brushing, flossing, and rinsing at least twice a day. This will speed healing and help keep your mouth fresh and clean. You may or may not have sutures (stitches) at your surgical site. Be very careful when brushing to avoid these. In most cases, Dr. Cohen uses dissolvable sutures that will come out 3-5 days after surgery. Brush your teeth gently, avoiding the surgical area for the first 2-3 days or until adequate healing will allow you to carefully clean the area.
Dissolve ½ teaspoon of salt into 8 ounces (1 cup) of warm water. You can rinse gently when brushing your teeth or more often if you like. You can’t keep your mouth too clean, but avoid vigorous rinsing for the first 2-3 days as to not disturb the blood clot. Rinsing flushes away food particles that may be lodged in the surgical area and helps keeps things clean.
After a few days, you will feel fine and can resume your normal activities. If you have heavy bleeding, severe pain, continued swelling for 2-3 days, or a reaction to the medication, call the office immediately.
It is our desire that your recovery be as smooth and pleasant as possible. Following these instructions will assist you and obtain the best outcome from your surgery. If you have any questions about your progress, please call the office at (713) 790-6477.