Whether you’ve just had a tooth extraction, or you’re preparing to have the procedure, there are a few good practices to follow for after you have oral surgery.
Every surgery and each patient is different. It will be up to you and your surgeon to determine where you fall on the care spectrum, and these general guidelines will help you confidently care for yourself.
Caring For Your Teeth after Oral Surgery
Your oral surgeon will provide you with personalized instructions based on your extraction and your teeth. If you’re ever in doubt or unsure of how to proceed, give us a quick call so that we can help.
Immediately after Extraction
You may be feeling a bit loopy after surgery, and should avoid any bending, lifting, or strenuous activity that can cause an increase in bleeding, swelling or pain.
On the day of your oral surgery you should:
Relax and Recharge
Any activities after surgery should be avoided for the first day. Allow your body to properly heal by resting on the couch or bed for the day and take caution when going from the lying down to standing position as you will be light headed from reduced fluid and caloric intake.
During the first hour after surgery, keep the initial gauze pads in place. If you’re still experiencing bleeding after the first hour, replace the gauze pads carefully and bite down gently but firmly to make sure they remain in place. It’s important to keep your mouth clean by brushing your teeth the night of surgery and using a gentle saltwater rinse after 24 hours 2-3 times a day, especially after eating.
It’s not uncommon for bleeding to continue for 24-48 hours after surgery. Keeping the surgical site packed with gauze pads replaced every 30-45 minutes will help to control the bleeding. Sitting upright, using ice packs, and avoiding any activity will help to promote blood clotting and avoid dry sockets.
You will experience many levels of swelling after surgery, most intensely 2-3 days after surgery. To help minimize swelling, use a cold pack on the cheek adjacent to the surgical area in the pattern of 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off for the first 24 hours.
Some tooth extractions are quite minimal, while others may require a prescription for pain medication. The most severe pain is usually within the first six hours after the local anesthetic wears off, so it’s recommended to take the first pain pill as soon as possible to help manage any discomfort better.
Some patients find that their prescription pain medication is accompanied by the side effect of nausea. Vomiting will cause additional stress and pressure to the surgical site which may cause additional bleeding. Always take any pain medications with a small amount of food to reduce the chances of nausea. If the nausea still persists, supplement each pain pill with a more mild pain reliever such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
In the Following Days
Getting adequate rest in the days following an oral surgery is just as important as resting right after the procedure. Allowing your body to rest and relax for 3-4 days post operative helps to aid the healing process.
Dietary Changes After Tooth Extraction
After any type of tooth extraction, changes to your diet are required so your mouth can properly heal. Things to avoid while maintaining your nutrition are:
- Extremely hot foods
- Using a straw
- Chewing on the side of your surgical site
- Foods that get stuck like rice, nuts, seeds, or popcorn
- Skipping meals
It’s important to maintain nutrition and not skip meals so your body has fuel to heal faster and gain strength.
Checking in with Your Dentist or Oral Surgeon
If anything seems like it might be wrong, communicating with your dentist never hurts. Notice any of the warning signs below?
- Dry sockets – Pain from a blood clot failing to form
- Nerve Damage – Pain and numbness in the lower lip or chin if a nerve in the area was traumatized
- Infection – Signs including a high fever, yellow or white discharge from the extraction site, and persistent pain and swelling
- Bleeding – Persistent bleeding that is still present after attempted remedies
Get in touch with Tompkins Dental for assistance and a follow-up right away if any of these warning signs are present after surgery.