Post-Operative Oral Care Instructions

  1. Bleeding
    A folded gauze pad should be placed over the extraction site with light biting pressure applied to the pad. The gauze pad should be replaced every 20 to 40 minutes or whenever the gauze becomes saturated. When the gauze pads have little or no blood on them, they are no longer necessary. The amount of bleeding will vary from person to person. Any heavy bleeding should slow within 3 to 4 hours. Small amounts of blood are common up to 24 hours after the extraction and occasionally during sleep the first couple of nights. Sleeping with your head elevated or with several pillows will help decrease swelling and bleeding during the night.

  2. Rinsing
    Do not rinse the extraction area the day of the surgery. Starting the next day, rinse with warm salt water 3 to 4 times each day. Place approximately 1/2 teaspoon of table salt in a small glass of warm water and let it dissolve. Do not use mouthwashes of any kind during the first week as they are too strong and most mouthwashes contain alcohol that will retard healing. Hydrogen peroxide should not be used unless directed by your doctor.

  3. Swelling
    Swelling is a normal reaction that occurs after the extraction of a tooth. Swelling of the soft tissue surrounding the tooth is a major cause of post-extraction discomfort. Swelling can be controlled by the use of an ice pack over the affected area. Apply the ice pack for 15 minutes, then remove or transfer it to a different area for 15 minutes. Do not freeze the skin. Ice packs are useful for the first 24 hours only. If you do not have an ice pack, a bag of frozen peas or other vegetables wrapped in a dishtowel is a common substitute. After the first 24 hours, moist heat is better than ice packs to the face.

  4. Activity
    You should avoid physical activity during the first day following extraction of a tooth. Physical activity will increase your blood pressure, which will cause an increase in your swelling and possible cause bleeding. You should avoid strenuous physical activity, such as jogging or tennis for several days after extractions.

  5. Pain
    Some discomfort is normal after the extraction of a tooth. Follow the directions that are written on the bottle. Most pain medicine will upset your stomach if taken on an empty stomach. It is a good idea to have a coating of food in your stomach every time you take a pill. Even 1 or 2 tablespoons of food are usually enough to be helpful in preventing nausea. Remember that pain medicines contain a narcotic, which can impair your judgment and reflexes. Avoid driving or doing anything potentially dangerous while taking these medications. If severe nausea or vomiting develops, contact your doctor. He can prescribe medications to alleviate these symptoms.

  6. Oral Hygiene
    Begin to brush your teeth on the day following the extraction. It is important to brush all your teeth, even if the teeth and gums are sensitive. It is important to proper healing that plaque and food are not allowed to accumulate near the extraction site.

  7. Smoking
    Smoking and tobacco chewing are the leading causes of delayed healing and post-extraction pain (dry socket). The suction causes increased bleeding and the nicotine and tar can cause contamination, infection and loss of the normal blood clot.

  8. Diet
    You should eat only soft food for the first couple of days. Food such as soup, juice, mashed potatoes and meatloaf are fine for several days. Avoid any hard or crunchy foods or foods with husks or skins such as peanuts or popcorn for one week. Remember to avoid hot foods the first day and avoid using a straw for the first day.

  9. Nausea
    Nausea can be common after general anesthesia or sedation and usually passes within a few hours. It is also a common side effect of strong pain medicine. Always take pain medicine with food in your stomach. This food must be thick and capable of lining the stomach, such as, mashed potatoes, applesauce, yogurt, etc. Soups and juices are readily absorbed and will not protect the stomach. If there is minimum pain, discontinue the pain medication. Tylenol or Motrin (lbuprofen) may be substituted for the prescription medication. If severe nausea or vomiting develops, contact your doctor.

  10. Emergencies
    If there are any serious problems or questions that need a doctor's immediate attention, the doctor is available 24 hours a day through the answering service at (623) 551-6556.

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Post-Operative Instructions Form

A downloadable form is provided for you for the post operative period following your surgery. All of the important instructions are included. This is available to you should you misplace the instructions given to you by the doctor at your surgery appointment.