9 Tips to Recover From Oral Surgery

Now that you made it through your oral surgery, you’ll want to take care of your mouth to ensure a quick and easy recovery.

If you had your wisdom teeth extracted, got new dental implants, or went through any other procedure to your teeth and gums, there are plenty of simple ways you can ease the pain and avoid infection.

1. Take it easy. After your appointment, plan to spend the rest of the day resting. The sedative you got during surgery will probably make you drowsy. So you shouldn’t drive a car or do anything else that requires concentration. It’s also important to avoid strenuous activities. Don’t bend or lift anything that might dislodge the blood clots and cause bleeding. When you’re ready to go to sleep, use extra pillows to keep your head elevated.

2. Don’t brush. It might be the only time your dentist will tell you not to brush your teeth, but after surgery, your mouth will be too sensitive for regular oral hygiene. So don’t brush your teeth or even use mouthwash for 24 hours. You should rinse with salt water every 2 hours. This will reduce your risk of infection. To make your rinse, mix 1/2 teaspoon of table salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water and gently swish it around in your mouth.

3. Ice it. Your face might swell or have bruises. This is normal. For the first 24 hours, apply ice to your jaw for 30 minutes, remove it for 15 minutes, then do it again. If you had surgery on both sides of your mouth, switch from side to side with a single ice pack. Apply ice for 15 minutes before you move it over. The swelling should lessen after 2 or 3 days. If it gets worse, you have a fever, or you notice pus, it could be infected. Call your doctor or oral surgeon right away.

4. Block the blood. You might have some bleeding for the first day or so after surgery. Gently bite on folded gauze -- change it every hour --  to help slow the flow. If the bleeding continues for more than 24 hours or is so heavy that the gauze needs to be changed more often, call your dentist or oral surgeon.

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5. Guard the clot. You don’t want to disturb the blood clot. It’s trying to heal the wounds in your mouth. So don’t use a straw, drink alcoholic or carbonated beverages, or smoke for at least 3 days after your procedure. Try not to spit too much, either.

6. Watch what you eat. Cool, soft foods after surgery are good. Yogurt, applesauce, and instant oatmeal are solid options. Stay away from foods that are too hot, cold, tough, chewy, or spicy.

7. Take your pain meds. At first, you might need help managing the pain. Your dentist can give you a prescription for that. You may even be fine with an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen. Whichever you choose, your pain should ease within 48 hours.

8. Keep an eye out. Look for infection, less feeling in your lower lip, chin, or tongue, or bruises on your jaw or where you had your IV. You can also have an allergic reaction to your anesthetic. Call your dentist right away if any of these things happen to you.

9. Check in. Make sure to keep all of your post-surgery follow-up appointments to make sure you’re healing well. Follow all your dentist’s instructions to avoid any complications.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Michael Friedman, DDS on January 26, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

National Institutes of Health, Patient Education: "Preparing for Third Molar Removal."

Mayo Clinic: "Wisdom Tooth Extraction."

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