Do’s and Don’ts After Oral Surgery

What is Oral Surgery?

Oral Surgery is a term used to describe operations performed in your mouth by a dentist or by a specialist dentist called an Oral Surgeon. Very complex mouth head and neck operations are carried out in a hospital by an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. Most minor oral surgery procedures take place in the confines of a dental practice, but for some, this may occur in a day care setting at a hospital.

What To Do After Oral Surgery

If you are wondering what to do to help healing after oral surgery, our DeCare experts are on hand with the do’s and don’ts on how to recover uneventfully. Firstly, as with all healthcare your surgeon/dentist will give you specific aftercare instructions which you should follow carefully.

Healing After Oral Surgery

Healing following oral surgery usually follows a predictable pattern. Swelling and discomfort for a few days followed by gradual improvements on a daily basis afterwards until fully healed. If you experience excessive bleeding or onset of severe pain in the days after surgery, contact your dentist as soon as possible for advice.

Assisting The Healing Process

  • Take prescribed medication for any pain or discomfort exactly according to instructions.
  • Painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen are most commonly prescribed for pain.
  • Rest 24 hours after a minor oral surgery procedure.
  • Avoid all possible disturbances to the blood clots/wound sites for at least 24 hours.
  • No rinsing, no spitting, no hot drinks, no alcohol and no smoking during this period.
  • Rest 24 to 72 hours after complicated procedures (removal of impacted wisdom teeth).
  • Resting helps healing by reducing the tendency to bleed.
  • After 24 hours, keep the wound clean by rinsing gently every 4 hours with an antiseptic mouthwash or else a glass of warm water and a teaspoon of salt while making sure not to disturb the blood clot.
  • Use pillows to prop up the head, improve drainage and reduce swelling.
  • Use an ice pack with a cloth covering for short intervals on the face to reduce swelling.
  • After 24 hours, commence eating soft food and take plenty of liquids for a few days until discomfort subsides.

Things To Avoid After Your Oral Surgery Procedure

  • After a general anaesthetic or sedation avoid driving or undertaking complicated tasks as your judgement may be impaired for a few days.
  • Do not bite your lip or tongue if your mouth is still numb.
  • Do not touch wound or disturb blood clot.
  • Avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise after surgery to avoid tendency to bleed
  • Avoid smoking or any sucking action as it may slow healing or precipitate dry socket.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption for a few days as it may interfere with medication and slow healing.
  • Avoid chewing hard foods until fully healed.

Dry Socket

This is a failure of normal blood clot formation which delays healing of the wound.

Blood clot formation is  essential for wound healing as it acts like a scaffold protecting  underlying bone and nerve endings in the tooth socket from further trauma. It is also the platform for growth of new bone and soft tissue over the wound.

Contact your dentist immediately if you develop intense pain starting at the wound site and radiating to your face in the days following a tooth extraction. This pain will not be relieved by ordinary painkillers and you will need a prescription for strong pain relief. Typically there will be a foul odour and taste from the wound and it will be red with inflammation. Keep it as clean as you can with warm salt mouthwashes every four hours. Your dentist will usually clean the wound and place a palliative dressing which will relieve the pain. The wound will eventually begin to heal and all pain will subside after ten days.

The exact cause of dry socket is unknown but there are some common features:

  • It is more common in women than men hinting at possible hormonal influences.
  • It is more common in smokers.
  • Previous history of dry socket is predictive of a future episode.
  • If you think you are experiencing a bout of dry socket contact your dental surgery immediately.