Post-Operative Care

Please do:

  • Take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) every 4 hours for 7 days.(400 mg for adults, less for children)
  • Add the narcotic medicine as needed with food or drink.
  • It is safe to take the narcotic and ibuprofen together.
  • Keep your head elevated the first day.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep well hydrated.

Please don’t:

  • Smoke or use nicotine during your recuperation.
  • Drink thick fluids through a straw for 24 hours.
  • Spit out any blood; apply the gauze instead.
  • Engage in heavy exercise for 4-5 days.
  • Operate a car or heavy machinery for 24 hours.
  • Brush your teeth or irrigate wounds the first day.

Please keep in mind that extensive oral surgery such as wisdom teeth removal can result in a very uncomfortable recovery process. The experience varies greatly among individual patients, and it may not be applicable to compare your surgical experience with someone else’s. As your comfort improves, taper off the prescription medication first and the ibuprofen last. The discomfort may not peak for 3 to 5 days after the surgery. Worsening pain that radiates into the sides of the face and head is often due to spasm of the jaw muscles, especially for patients who clench or grind their teeth, and is often worst when awakening. Treat muscle pain by applying moist heat for 10 minutes followed by massaging the areas for 10 minutes several times a day.

Gauze packs were placed in your mouth at the surgical site to provide gentle pressure over the wounds. Replace these packs with fresh ones every 30 to 45 minutes, or until the bleeding has completely stopped. It is quite normal to notice occasional bleeding or blood-tinged saliva many days after the surgery. If bleeding seems to be persistent, don’t spit the blood out, but continue changing the gauze and keeping pressure on the wounds. For problem bleeding, clotting can be improved by dipping the gauze in ice water or inserting a tea bag inside the gauze. Keep your head elevated. During the first 24 hours, avoid drinking through a straw, spitting, rinsing vigorously, or having hot foods or liquids. Remove the gauze to eat, drink and sleep.

Fever / Bruising:
A low-grade fever (up to 101° F) can occur for a few days after surgery. Swelling usually peaks on day 3 or 4, then resolves over the next few days. Placing ice over the surgery site helps, but ice should only be used on the first day. You may notice some bruising on your face or neck; this is not worrisome.

For the first 24 hours, limit your diet to liquids and soft foods like pasta, scrambled eggs, smoothies, soup, etc. Take in plenty of fluids. After the first day, you may advance your diet to normal foods as your comfort permits, but it is best to avoid hard, un-dissolvable foods like nuts or popcorn, that can get stuck in the sockets.

Wound Care:
After 24 hours, you can rinse the wounds with warm water. If you were given an irrigating syringe, vigorously irrigate the sockets after meals and before bed. It is normal to notice occasional bleeding or an objectionable odor or taste from a tooth socket up to 3 weeks after the procedure. The sutures usually loosen and dissolve in 5-7 days. Start brushing the teeth surrounding the surgical site with a soft toothbrush a few days after the surgery. If you have a new prosthesis, try to keep it in place for the first night, and then remove it at night thereafter. If it hurts to wear it, leave it out and call your dentist for an adjustment appointment. If your surgery included bone or gum tissue grafting, do not drink hot liquids or irrigate the grafted areas for 2 weeks.

Nausea / Constipation:

Nausea can be a side effect from the sedation medicine, prescription narcotics, dehydration, or swallowing some blood. Nausea usually fades away without treatment, but persistent nausea can be treated with non-prescription anti-nausea medication. Bonine (meclizine) is best. If nauseated and your pain is mild, discontinue the prescription narcotic (the most likely cause) and use only a non-narcotic medication. If your nausea is severe and prevents you from holding anything down, then a prescription suppository is available. Constipation is common with narcotics, and a adding a laxative (Miralax is the gentlest and best) is a good idea.

Call our office immediately at (805) 981-8144 if you notice severe bleeding, difficult breathing, inability to swallow, persistent vomiting or any other problem. If we cannot be reached quickly, call 911 if you feel there is an emergency.

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