Immediately Following Surgery:
- Return home and prop yourself up with your head elevated.
- Eat some food before the numbness wears off. (No hot liquids. Cool or lukewarm is fine.)
- With food, take 2–3 over-the-counter ibuprofen (also known as Advil® or Motrin®) pills (if can tolerate ibuprofen).
- Wait 2 hours; if not feeling nauseated, and take the prescription pain medication.
- Wait 2 hours and take more ibuprofen (2–3 pills).
- Wait 2 more hours and take the pain medication.
- Continue this regimen, alternating between ibuprofen and your prescription medication for the next 24 hours.
- Continue changing the gauze every 45 minutes until the area is not actively bleeding.
- Avoid all physical exertion or exercise the day of surgery.
- Keep lips moist with Chapstick® or Vaseline® to prevent chapping.
Some bleeding is normal, and blood-tinged saliva may be present for 24–48 hours. You can control this by placing fresh gauze over the surgical area and biting down firmly for 45–60 minutes. Remove the gauze to eat, then replace. Remove the gauze before going to bed at night. If constant bleeding continues, it may be due to the gauze being clenched between the teeth rather than exerting pressure on the surgery site. Reposition the gauze. If bleeding persists, substitute a moist tea bag (first soaked in warm water, squeezed dry, and wrapped in a moist gauze) on the area for 30 minutes.
Swelling is to be expected and usually reaches its maximum in 48–72 hours. To minimize swelling, apply cold ice packs to the face adjacent to the surgical area. Apply 20 minutes, then remove for 20 minutes; continue for the first 24 hours. After 24 hours, it is usually best to apply moist heat or a heating pad to the same area. Tightening of the jaw muscles may cause difficulty in opening the mouth; this should disappear within 7–10 days.
Take the medications as prescribed. Be careful with the pain medication; it may cause nausea. Do not allow anyone else to take your medications.
For the First Week After Surgery:
- Do not drink alcoholic beverages.
- Do not drink carbonated beverages.
- Do not smoke or use smokeless tobacco.
- Do not swish, spit, or rinse vigorously.
- Avoid the use of a straw.
- Do not stick anything down into the socket.
- Do not drive or use appliances or exercise equipment that could be dangerous as long as you are taking prescription pain medication.
- Do not make any important decisions during your recovery time.
- Do brush your teeth, but very gently.
- Do walk carefully and watch out for dizziness.
- During recovery, eat a soft diet (for example, well-cooked pasta, eggs, pancakes, mashed potatoes, and soup).
- Avoid hard foods such as chips, nuts, or raw vegetables.
Instructions for Following Days:
Brush your teeth and keep your mouth clean. Start using the irrigating syringe on the fifth post-operative day. If prescribed, continue taking antibiotics until they are gone and pain medications as needed. If needed, use warm compresses 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off.
Possible Post-Surgery Side Effects:
The blood clot on the surgical site may be lost causing a dry socket (usually on the sixth or seventh day after surgery). There will be a noticeable, distinct, persistent, and radiating pain in the area. Often, the pain may radiate toward the ear and forward along the jaw, which may cause other teeth to ache. If you do not see a steady improvement during the first week after surgery, please call the office to report symptoms.
Bruising may be expected and is usually limited to the neck or cheek area near the surgical site. If discoloration occurs, it often takes a week for this to disappear completely. Occasionally, the arm or hand near the site where the needle was placed to administer IV drugs may remain inflamed and tender. Aspirin and application of heat on the area will usually correct these symptoms.
Loss of sensation of the lip and chin may occur, usually following lower wisdom teeth removal. This is usually temporary and disappears within a few days or weeks. Occasionally, some numbness may persist for months.