After Extraction and Wisdom Teeth
Now that you’ve had oral surgery, you probably have lots of questions:
- How long will my recovery take?
- Will there be any discomfort?
- What can I eat, and when?
Hopefully, we’ve had a chance to address many of your concerns before leaving the office today. But just in case we didn’t, or if you need a reminder, here is some information about what to expect in the days following surgery.
Please remember that we are partners in caring for your health. Your doctor and nurses have done their best to minimize your discomfort, and start you off properly on the road to wellness. But the next phase -recovery- is in your hands. There is much you can do to assure that your recovery time is as short, painless and complication-free as possible. Please take a few moments to look over these suggestions for the days ahead.
Can I drive home?
If you were asleep for your surgery, it will take some time for your alertness and coordination to return to normal. You may also experience some blurring of vision following anesthesia. For these reasons, we recommend that you do not drive or operate machinery for the first 24 hours after surgery.
What if I notice bleeding after I leave the office?
Some oozing of blood from the surgical site is common after an extraction. This may occur for up to 48-72 hours following surgery. Your doctor has placed gauze sponges over the surgical site. Please continue to bite down firmly on these sponges for the first hour after surgery to help stop any bleeding.
What if the oozing is heavy?
Oozing can be quite heavy after the removal of some teeth. If the bleeding seems heavy, gently wipe out large clots from your mouth. Next, take two gauze sponges folded into fourths, or a moistened regular (not decaf or herbal) tea bag wrapped in gauze, and placed over the bleeding site. Bite down firmly for one hour without changing. Repeat the procedure if bleeding continues. In most cases, this will greatly reduce the amount of oozing. If active bleeding continues despite these measures, please call the office and let us know.
When can I have something to eat?
About an hour after surgery, you may remove the gauze sponges that have been placed in your mouth and have something to eat. Be sure to eat foods that are soft for the first 24 hours after surgery. Avoid hot foods and drinks for several hours after surgery. Also do not drink from a straw for at least 24 hours. These precautions will give your mouth a better chance to heal properly.
Will my recovery time be painful?
The amount of discomfort you’ll feel after surgery usually depends on how extensive your surgery was. If your doctor did not give you a prescription for pain medication at the office, he probably feels that your discomfort will be minimal. Ibuprofen or Extra-Strength Tylenol should be adequate. The local anesthetic used during surgery will begin to wear off within 2 to 4 hours and you may begin to feel less comfortable after this time. Please take your first dose of either the prescription pain medication or the Ibuprofen/Tylenol after having something to eat and before the anesthetic starts to wear off.
Follow the directions on the medication bottle to know how much you should take. Be sure to call during regular office hours if the pain seems to be worsening instead of getting better after 5 7 days.
It’s not unusual for pain medications to cause nausea or even vomiting in some people. If this happens, try eating prior to or decreasing the amount of medication you’re taking. If you still feel ill, stop taking the medication and call us during regular office hours so we can prescribe something else for your pain. DO NOT drive a motor vehicle, operate machinery or drink alcoholic beverages while taking prescription pain medication.
Will my face become swollen?
Swelling often occurs as part of the natural healing process, especially after bony surgery or the removal of impacted teeth. Facial swelling usually increases for 3 to 4 days after oral surgery, soon after that it will begin to subside. The swelling may make it difficult to open your mouth wide or to swallow. You may also notice some bruising on your face where the surgery was done, or experience numbness or tingling of the lip and/or tongue on the affected side. If you had teeth removed from both sides of your mouth, it’s not uncommon for one side to be more swollen or uncomfortable that the other.
In most cases, you can help minimize the amount of swelling by applying an ice pack to your face over the area where surgery was done for the first 12 to 18 hours. If you had surgery on both sides, switch the ice pack from one side to the other every 30 minutes. DO NOT use an ice pack if your teeth were infected or if there was swelling prior to surgery. In this case, a moist heating pad should be used instead.
Is it normal to run a temperature after surgery?
Some patients develop a slight elevation in body temperature following oral surgery. You shouldn’t be concerned unless your fever goes above 101.5. If it does, please call us.
Why do I need to take an antibiotic?
If you had an infection in your mouth at the time of surgery or if you required extensive surgery, your doctor may have prescribed an antibiotic medication. It is important that you follow the dosage directions on the bottle and continue taking the medication until it’s finished. If you should develop a reaction to the medication, such as skin rash, stop taking the medication and call our office.
Please note that some antibiotics can interfere with the ability of birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. If you normally use oral contraceptives, please be sure to use an additional method of birth control during your current menstrual cycle.
Will I have sutures (stitches)?
Most oral surgical procedures require suturing the tissue together to aid healing. Most of the sutures we use fall out themselves over 3 – 5 days.
What is this hole I have in my mouth?
This is the area where the tooth was removed, the socket. The socket will close in 12-18 weeks.
Can I brush my teeth?
Good oral hygiene practices are as essential after oral surgery as at any other time. After 24 hours you can resume tooth brushing. It may also help to gently rinse your mouth every so often with mild salt water (1/4 teaspoon of salt in a glass of water). DO NOT use mouth wash or hydrogen peroxide rinses for 14 days following surgery.
Can I smoke?
No. Smoking of any kind after oral surgery interferes with the normal healing process and can increase your chances of developing a dry socket and infections.
What is a “dry socket”?
After you’ve had a tooth removed, a blood clot normally forms over the area of the bone where the tooth was taken out. This blood clot protects the bone from irritation by saliva and bacteria in your mouth. In about 10% of patients, this blood clot dissolves prematurely. This usually occurs 3-4 days after surgery. A dry socket may develop and cause you to feel increased pain in your jaw, which sometimes extends to your ear. If you suspect a dry socket, continue using the pain medication to reduce the pain. If this does not help, please call us during regular office hours. You may need to come back to the office for a simple treatment to resolve this condition, or in most cases we will extend your pain medication.
How soon can I resume my normal activities?
You can resume light activities as soon as you feel up to it. We do ask, though, that you limit strenuous activities for about 3 days. Do not perform activities which require coordination or concentration while taking narcotic pain medication; this includes driving.
How can I reach my doctor if I need to?
One of the doctors can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling either our office number during regular office hours or our answering service at 215-750-4745 when our office is closed. After you call, please keep your line free so that the doctor can return your call. If no one has responded after 30 minutes, please try again. If you feel this is an emergency please go to the nearest hospital emergency room or call 911. Please note if you need medication or medication refills you will need to call during regular office hours. Prescriptions will not be phoned in to your pharmacy after hours.
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