- Post-operative care is very important. Unnecessary pain and the complications of infection and swelling may be minimized if the instructions are followed carefully. Sometimes the after effects of surgery are quite minimal, so not all these instructions may apply. Common sense will often dictate what you should do. However, when in doubt, follow these guidelines or call our office any time for clarification.
- The gauze pad placed over the surgical area should be kept in place for 30 minutes and changed at regular intervals up to 2 hours until the bleeding subsides. Slight bleeding, oozing, or redness in the saliva is not uncommon up to 72 hours after surgery. If bleeding continues, bite on a moistened tea bag for thirty minutes. The tannic acid in the tea bag helps to form a clot by contracting bleeding vessels.
- Do not sneeze or blow your nose for the next 2 weeks if you have to then do it with your mouth open. If you feel congested, take any over the counter allergy or nasal congestion medication such as Zyrtec, Sudafed, Allegra, Claritin, Flonase or Dimetapp. Avoid any of these medications if you are allergic to it.
- Take the prescribed antibiotics as instructed and the pain medications as soon as you get home. This will usually coincide with the local anesthetic becoming diminished.
- Restrict your activities the day of surgery and resume normal activity in 24-72 hours. It is not unusual to require 7 to 10 days before you are feeling back to normal, and before you can resume strenuous physical activity, and normal eating patterns.
Swelling around the mouth, cheeks, eyes and sides of the face is not uncommon as this is the body’s normal reaction to surgery. The swelling will not become apparent until the day following surgery and will reach its maximum after 48-72 hours post-operatively. The swelling may be minimized by the immediate use of ice packs which should be used for 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off for the 1st 48 hours following surgery. If swelling or jaw stiffness has persisted for several days, there is no cause for alarm. This is a normal reaction to surgery. 48 hours following surgery, the application of moist heat to the sides of the face is beneficial in reducing the size of the swelling.
For pain, take the prescribed pain medications as directed. This prescribed pain medicine will/may slow down your reflexes and therefore it is highly recommended not to drive an automobile or work around machinery. Pain or discomfort following surgery should begin to subside after the first three or four days. If pain persists, it may require attention and you should call the office. Some patients will develop significant pain 3 to 7 days post operatively and this may indicate a dry socket (if a tooth is extracted only).
Avoid foods such as nuts, popcorn, sunflower seeds and any other food where particles can get lodged underneath the tissue within the surgical site (such as pretzels, potato chips, corn chips, popcorn, corn) for 2 weeks. Do not use straws but instead, drink from a glass as this can cause more bleeding. You may eat anything soft but try to avoid chewing directly over the surgical sites. High calorie, high protein intake is very important. Nourishment should be taken regularly. You should prevent dehydration by taking fluids regularly. We recommend caloric supplements such as Ensure or an equivalent product, two to three cans per day will help keep your strength and promote healing. Mixing Ensure type products with ice using a blender usually makes them tastier, and the ice is usually soothing to the tissues. It is also advisable to avoid very hot foods for the first 48 hours.
Oral hygiene care
You can brush your teeth the night of surgery but do not rinse with any force. Gently place the water in your mouth and let it swirl around and drip out into the sink. Do not spit as this may cause bleeding. Warm water rinses are fine or ½ teaspoon of salt in 8 oz. of warm water should be used 2-3 times a day, especially after you eat something. In addition to this, Peridex (chlorhexidine) mouth rinse will also be prescribed. This should be used in the morning when you wake up and at night before you go to bed. Rinse with Peridex for 30 seconds and then spit it out. Peridex should be used for at least 7 days. Brushing your teeth is no problem. Be gentle initially when you are brushing the surgical areas. Often times a very soft toothbrush will be helpful to clean around the surgical area. The important thing is to keep the surgical areas as clean as possible. The use of a WaterPik is generally avoided in the surgical area for several weeks.