Post-operative instructions following dental surgery

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BLEEDING: Biting on the gauze pads will probably be necessary at least for the first few hours to control bleeding changing them every 45 minutes or so. Keep the head elevated and rest. Do not spit, rinse, or engage in physical activity for the next 24 hours as this stimulates bleeding. Some oozing of blood could last up to 24 hours.

NOTE: If heavy bleeding persists, replace the gauze with a clean folded gauze pad placed over the surgery site and maintain pressure until bleeding stops. In rare cases, a tea bag (tannic acid) can be used to encourage clotting (regular, not herbal tea). Call Dr. Lowe/Associate if bleeding does not stop or is heavy for too long.

SWELLING: This is normal following a surgical procedure in the mouth. It should reach its maximum in 48 hours and then diminish by the fifth post-operative day. The anti-swelling medicine we usually give cuts it way down to less than a ¼ of what it would normally be. Place ice or cold compresses on the face over a dry washcloth in the region of the surgery for 20 minutes on, 2 minutes off, for the first eight to twelve hours. Ice is only effective on the day of surgery.
DISCOMFORT: The most discomfort that you will experience will occur as the anesthetic wears off – usually 1-2 hours after surgery. If a long-acting anesthetic was used, you may be numb for much longer than normal. Do not wait for the pain to become severe before taking the medications since the medicine will require 30-45 minutes to take effect. Pain will gradually diminish over the next few days. The maximum dose of any medicine prescribed for you is printed on the package. DO NOT EXCEED!

SMOKING: If you smoke, avoid smoking during the first 48 hours after surgery, or a “dry socket” will develop (see below).

DIET: A nutritious liquid diet is necessary for the first day. Hard foods eaten while you are numb can dislodge the gums that have been sutured. After day 1, you can gradually progress to harder foods.
ACTIVITY: For the first 24- 48 hours, you should rest. Patients who have sedation should refrain from driving an automobile or form engaging in any task that requires alertness for the first 24 hours.
BRUSHING: You are encouraged to brush the day of your surgery, except in the area of the extraction.

  1. Brush teeth but still avoid the surgery area. As healing takes places, you can gradually brush teeth near the surgery site. Soften the bristles by placing them under hot water.

  2. Use warm water as a mouth rinse for 1 minute 3-5 times per day for 5-7 days after surgery. (1 tsp salt in a glass of warm water).

  3. If antibiotics are prescribed, by sure to take them all as directed. NOTE: They can render birth control pills ineffective.

  4. Usually absorbable sutures are used and do not need to be removed. However, you may have non-absorbable sutures and will be given an appointment a few days after surgery to have them removed.

  5. Dry socket is a delayed healing response, which may occur 5 days to 2 weeks later. It is usually in the lower socket and associated with a throbbing pain on the side of the face, which may seem to be directed up toward the ear. In mild cases, simply increasing the pain medication for a few days can control the symptoms. If this is unsuccessful, please call our office to arrange for some medication to be temporarily placed in the socket. The fee for dry socket treatment is $135.00. They generally get better whether treated or not. Dry sockets can be brought on by rinsing or spitting too much the first day, to much physical activity, using a straw, smoking, birth control pills, particularly difficult surgery, and pre-existing infection. They are twice as common in patients over 30.

  6. Do not chew anything hard (even hard crust of bread or ice) for 4-6 weeks after having lower wisdom teeth removed or participate in sports where you may be hit in the jaw. The lower jaw is temporarily weaker and the bone may crack requiring the jaws to be wired together by an oral surgeon.

  7. Residual drugs in your body may make you light-headed for a few days – especially if you take a hot shower. Be careful! Call Dr. Lowe if you are concerned.

Dr. Jeff Lowe HOME: (785) 628-8181 CELL: (785) 635-8181

  1. Bleeding is excessive and cannot be controlled.

  2. Swelling is excessive, spreading, continuing to enlarge after 48 hours.

  3. Discomfort is poorly controlled.

  4. Allergies or other reactions to medications occur.

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