Post-Operative Instructions

Post-operative care is very important. Unnecessary pain and complications can be minimized if these instructions are followed carefully.


First Hour

Apply pressure on the gauze that has been placed over the extraction site by biting down. After 45 minutes the gauze should be discarded. If active bleeding persists, new gauze may then be changed as necessary (typically every 30-45 minutes) until bleeding slows down. Remove gauze to eat, drink, and before you go to bed at night. Do not use gauze after the first day of surgery.


Exercise Care
Do not disturb the extraction site, rinse vigorously, or probe the area with any objects. DO NOT SMOKE for at least 48 hours, as this is very detrimental to the healing process and can cause dry socket.

Persistent Bleeding
On and off bleeding, oozing, or redness in the saliva is not uncommon. Bleeding should be controlled; never severe.  If so, it usually means the packs are being clenched between teeth only and not exerting pressure on the extraction site.  Try repositioning the packs and apply pressure for 30 minutes. If bleeding continues into the evening, bite on a moistened black tea bag for thirty minutes. The tannic acid in the black tea helps to form a clot by contracting blood vessels.  If bleeding still remains uncontrolled please call our office.

The swelling that is expected is usually proportional to the surgery involved. Swelling around the mouth, cheeks, eyes, and sides of the face is not uncommon. The swelling will not become apparent until the day following surgery and will not reach its maximum until 2-3 days post-operatively. It can be minimized by using a cold compresses wrapped in a towel and applied firmly to the cheek adjacent to the surgical area. This should be applied in 20 minutes intervals for the first 48 hours after surgery. Remaining elevated for the next 3 days using a recliner or multiple pillows while resting will reduce discomfort.

Unfortunately most oral surgery is accompanied by some degree of discomfort.  You will usually have a prescription for pain medication.  If you take the first pill before the anesthetic has worn off you should be able to manage any discomfort. If you find that you are taking large amounts of pain medication please call our office.  Please note that pain medication cannot be called in to pharmacies by law.  If you anticipate needing more prescription medication, you will need to call our office during normal business hours.

Nausea is not uncommon after surgery. Some patients find that the stronger pain medications may cause nausea.  Having a small meal settle on your stomach for 45 minutes prior to pain medication will reduce nausea. If nausea persists drink clear fluids and minimize use of pain medications.

After surgery eat nourishing food that can be chewed with comfort to avoid skipping meals.  Avoid extremely hot foods, and do not use a straw for the first 7 days after surgery.  It is sometimes advisable, but not absolutely required, to confine the first day’s meals to liquids or pureed foods.  It is best to avoid foods like nuts, popcorn, rice, etc., which may get lodged in the extraction site.  Over the next several days you can progress to more solid foods. 

Sharp Edges
If you feel something hard or sharp in the surgical areas, it is likely you are feeling the boney walls which once supported the extracted teeth.  Occasionally small slivers of bone may work themselves out during the following week or so.  If they cause concern or discomfort, please call the office.

Mouth Rinses
Keeping your mouth clean after surgery is essential.  Use 1 teaspoon of salt to a small glass of warm water and gently rinse beginning the day after surgery.  Repeat at least 3 times daily until you return for your follow up visit with us.

You may begin brushing and flossing normally the day after surgery.  Soreness and swelling may not permit vigorous brushing, but please make every effort to clean your teeth within the bounds of comfort.

Warm Compress
Beginning the third day after surgery you should start placing a warm moist washcloth over the areas of swelling and soreness for 20 minutes several times a day.  This will help to soothe tender areas and discomfort.

Normal healing after tooth extraction should be as follows:  you will experience most swelling and soreness 3-5 days following surgery.  The remainder of the post-operative course should be a gradual steady improvement.  If you don’t see continued improvement, please call our office.

It is our desire that your recovery be as smooth and pleasant as possible.  Following these instructions will assist you, but if you have questions about your progress, please call our office.  A 24-hour answering service is available to contact the doctor after hours.  Calling during office hours will afford a faster response to your questions or concerns.

PLEASE NOTE: Telephone calls for narcotic prescriptions refills are NOT accepted.