After Wisdom Tooth Removal
The removal of impacted teeth is a significant 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 2 hours. Replace the pads at 2 hour intervals until the active bleeding stops.
- 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 medications as soon as you begin to feel discomfort. This will usually coincide with the local anesthetic becoming diminished.
- Restrict your activities the day of surgery and resume normal activity when you feel comfortable.
- 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 placing a folded gauze pad over the area and biting firmly for 2 hours. Repeat if necessary. If bleeding continues, bite on a moistened tea bag for 2 hours. The tannic acid in the tea bag helps to form a clot by contracting bleeding vessels. To minimize further bleeding, do not become excited, sit upright, and avoid exercise. Do not spit as this action encourages bleeding. If you are bleeding you need to apply pressure on the bleeding spot. If bleeding does not subside, call for further instructions.
The swelling that is normally expected is usually proportional to the surgery involved. Swelling around the mouth, cheeks, eyes and sides of the face is not uncommon. This is the body’s normal reaction to surgery and eventual repair. The swelling will not become apparent until the day following surgery and will not reach its maximum until 2-3 days post-operatively. However, the swelling may be minimized by the immediate use of ice packs. Two baggies filled with ice, or ice packs should be applied to the sides of the face where surgery was performed. After 24 hours, ice has no beneficial effect. If swelling or jaw stiffness has persisted for several days, there is no cause for alarm. This is a normal reaction to surgery. Twenty-four hours following surgery, the application of moist heat to the sides of the face is beneficial.
For moderate pain, one or two tablets of Tylenol or Extra Strength Tylenol may be taken every four to six hours (up to 6 – 8 tablets per day) and/or Ibuprofen, (Motrin or Advil) two to four 200 mg tablets may be used up to 16 tablets per day.
For severe pain, take the tablets prescribed as directed. Do not take additional tylenol because it is in the prescribed pain medication. 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 gradually every day. If pain persists, it may require attention and you should call the office.
After general anesthetic or I.V. sedation, liquids should be initially taken. Do not use straws. The sucking motion can cause more bleeding by dislodging the blood clot. You may eat anything soft by chewing away from the surgical sites. High calorie, high protein intake is very important. Nourishment should be taken regularly. You should avoid 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 6 – 8 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 with assistance.
Keep the mouth clean
No heavy rinsing 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 (bruising) follows swelling. 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 or concerns.
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 water, 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. The motion sickness medication Dramamine is often helpful to use at this point. Prescription pain medications taken on an empty stomach, as well as dehydration can frequently cause nausea. Drink plenty of water, use Dramamine, and use Ibuprofen for pain.
- 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 Drs. Sarasin and Westlund if you have any questions.
- Slight elevation of temperature immediately following surgery is not uncommon. If the temperature persists, notify the office. Drink Plenty of water.
- Dizziness/light headedness is not uncommon and may be due to pain medication or inadequate fluid intake. Before standing up, you should sit for one minute then get up. Additionally, increasing your fluid intake and decreasing pain medications may help.
- 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 Drs. Sarasin and Westlund. Do not push on these areas with your fingers or tongue.
- If the corners of your mouth are stretched, they may dry out and crack. Your lips should be kept moist with an ointment such as vaseline.
- 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. Gently opening fully and closing every hour will prevent this. Start the morning after surgery.
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 that remain 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 hole where the tooth was removed. It will gradually fill in with the new tissue over the next month. In the mean time, the area should be kept clean especially after meals with salt water rinses or a toothbrush. At your post-operative visit, you will be given a syringe to flush out the lower sockets.
No two mouths or situations are alike. Discuss your problem with the persons best able to effectively help you: Drs. Sarasin and Westlund or your family 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 3 – 4 days following surgery. Call the office if this occurs.
If you are involved in regular exercise, taking a few days off may be necessary.