After Wisdom Tooth Removal
The removal of impacted teeth is a serious surgical procedure. Post-operative care is very important. Unnecessary pain and the complications of infection and swelling can be minimized if the instructions are followed carefully.
Immediately Following Surgery
- The gauze pad placed over the surgical area should be kept in place for a half hour. After this time, the gauze should be removed and discarded, and if bleeding is persistent, repeat the application of the gauze for 30 minute intervals until the bleeding is diminished to just a slight oozing.
- Vigorous mouth rinsing or touching the wound area following surgery should be avoided. This may initiate bleeding by causing the blood clot that has formed to become dislodged.
- Take the prescribed pain medication as soon as possible after your surgery, making sure to have food in your stomach to avoid stomach upset. Do not wait until you begin to feel discomfort to take your pain medicine.
- Restrict your activities the day of surgery and resume normal activity when you feel comfortable. If you need an excuse slip for missed work or school, please let us know.
- Place ice packs to the sides of your face where surgery was performed. Refer to the section on swelling for explanation.
A certain amount of bleeding is to be expected following surgery. Slight bleeding, oozing, or redness in the saliva is not uncommon. Excessive bleeding may be controlled by first rinsing or wiping any old clots from your mouth, then fold a 4×4 gauze twice to form a thick pad and bite on it firmly over the surgical area for thirty minutes. Repeat if necessary, until bleeding is just a slight oozing. If bleeding continues, you may try wrapping a moistened tea bag and biting on it for thirty minutes. The tannic acid in the tea bag helps to form a clot by contracting bleeding vessels. To minimize further bleeding, avoid becoming excited, sit upright, and avoid exercise. If bleeding does not subside, call for further instructions.
Swelling is expected after wisdom teeth removal and the severity of it is usually proportional to the difficulty of the surgery. Swelling around the mouth, cheeks, eyes and sides of the face is not uncommon. This is the body’s normal reaction to surgery. The swelling will not usually become apparent until the day after surgery and will not reach its maximum until 2-3 days post-operatively. Depending on the difficulty of your surgery, you may be given a dose of a steriod to help control the swelling. In addition, the swelling may be minimized by the immediate use of ice packs. Plastic bags filled with ice, or ice packs should be applied to the sides of the face where the surgery was performed. For the first 24 hours post-operatively, keep the ice packs on the area in a 20 minutes-on/10 minutes-off pattern, while you are awake. After 24 hours, ice has no beneficial effect and you can begin the application of moist heat to the area if needed to further help decrease the swelling. If swelling or jaw stiffness has persisted for several days, there is no cause for alarm. This is a normal reaction to surgery.
For moderate pain, one or two tablets of Tylenol or Extra Strength Tylenol may be taken every three to four hours or Ibuprofen, (Motrin or Advil) two-four 200 mg tablets may be taken every 3-4 hours.
For severe pain, a stronger pain medicine will be prescribed. Usually the prescribed pain medicine will make you groggy and will slow down your reflexes. Do not drive an automobile or work around machinery. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Pain or discomfort following surgery should subside more and more every day. If your pain persists for longer than a week or if it worsens, you should call the office.
After general anesthetic or I.V. sedation, liquids should be initially taken. Do not use straws. Drink from a glass. The sucking motion can cause more bleeding by dislodging the blood clot. You may eat anything soft by chewing away form the surgical sites. High calorie, high protein intake is very important. Refer to the section on suggested diet instructions at the end of the brochure. Nourishment should be taken regularly. You should prevent dehydration by taking fluids regularly. Your food intake will be limited for the first few days. You should compensate for this by increasing your fluid intake. At least 5-6 glasses of liquid should be taken daily. Try not to miss a single meal. You will feel better, have more strength, less discomfort and heal faster if you continue to eat. Caution: If you suddenly sit up or stand from a lying position you may become dizzy. If you are lying down following surgery, make sure you sit for one minute before standing.
No smoking for three days following surgery, in order to prevent formation of a dry socket. If you experience severe pain, 2-3 days after surgery, call the office.
Keep the mouth clean
No rinsing of any kind should be performed until the day following surgery. You can brush your teeth the night of surgery but rinse gently. The day after surgery you should begin rinsing at least 5-6 times a day especially after eating with a cup of warm water mixed with a teaspoon of salt.
In some cases, discoloration of the skin follows swelling. The development of black, blue, green, or yellow discoloration is due to blood spreading beneath the tissues. This is a normal post-operative occurrence, which may occur 2-3 days post-operatively. Moist heat applied to the area may speed up the removal of the discoloration.
If you have been placed on antibiotics, take the tablets or liquid as directed. Antibiotics will be given to help prevent infection. Discontinue antibiotic use in the event of a rash or other unfavorable reaction. Call the office if you have any questions.
Nausea and Vomiting
In the event of nausea and/or vomiting following surgery, do not take anything by mouth for at least an hour including the prescribed medicine. You should then sip on coke, tea or ginger ale. You should sip slowly over a fifteen-minute period. When the nausea subsides you can begin taking solid foods and the prescribed medicine.
- If numbness of the lip, chin, or tongue occurs there is no cause for alarm. As stated before surgery, this is usually temporary in nature. You should be aware that if your lip or tongue is numb, you could bite it and not feel the sensation. So be careful. Call the office if you have any questions.
- Slight elevation of temperature immediately following surgery is not uncommon. If the temperature persists, notify the office. Tylenol or ibuprofen should be taken to reduce the fever.
- You should be careful going from the lying down position to standing. You were not able to eat or drink prior to surgery. It was also difficult to take fluids. Taking pain medications can make you dizzy. You could get light headed when you stand up suddenly. Before standing up, you should sit for one minute then get up.
- Occasionally, patients may feel hard projections in the mouth with their tongue. They are not roots, they are the bony walls which supported the tooth. These projections usually smooth out spontaneously. If not, they can be removed by Dr. Reid.
- The corners of your mouth and lips may become cracked and dry due to manipulation during the surgery. This may be relieved by application of an ointment such as vaseline.
- Sore throat and painful swallowing are not uncommon. The muscles get swollen. The normal act of swallowing can then become painful. This will subside in 2-3 days.
- Stiffness (trismus) of the jaw muscles may cause difficulty in opening your mouth for a few days following surgery. This is a normal post-operative event which will resolve in time.
Sutures are placed the area of surgery to minimize post-operative bleeding and to help healing. Sometimes they become dislodged, this is no cause for alarm. Just remove the suture from your mouth and discard it. The sutures will be removed approximately one week after surgery. The removal of sutures requires no anesthesia or needles. It takes only a minute or so, and there is no discomfort associated with this procedure.
The pain and swelling should subside more and more each day following surgery. If your post-operative pain or swelling worsens or unusual symptoms occur call the office for instructions.
There will be a space where the tooth was removed. The space will gradually fill in with new tissue over the next month. In the meantime, the area should be kept clean, especially after meals, with salt water rinses or a toothbrush.
Your case is individual, no two mouths are alike. Do not accept well intended advice from friends. Discuss your problem with the persons best able to effectively help you- Dr. Reid or your dentist.
Brushing your teeth is okay – just be gentle at the surgical sites.
A dry socket is when the blood clot gets dislodged prematurely from the tooth socket. Symptoms of pain at the surgical site and even pain to the ear may occur 2-3 days following surgery. Call the office if this occurs.
If you are involved in regular exercise, be aware that your normal nourishment intake is reduced following extractions. Exercise may weaken you. If you get light headed, stop exercising.