Oral Surgery Post-Operative Instructions

Day of Surgery | Next Day (Day 2) | Following Days


The after-effects of oral surgery vary per individual, so not all of these instructions may apply.  Please feel free to call our office any time should you have any questions or are experiencing any unusual symptoms following your treatment.


IMMEDIATELY AFTER SURGERY.  Patients who received sedation should return home from the office immediately upon discharge and lie down with their head elevated until all the effects of the sedation have disappeared.   Anesthetic effects vary by individual, and you may feel drowsy for a short period of time or for several hours.  You should not operate any mechanical equipment or drive a motor vehicle for at least 24 hours or longer if you feel any residual effect from the sedation.

ORAL HYGIENE AND CARE.   Do not disturb the surgical area on the day of your surgery. Bite down gently but firmly on the gauze pad that was initially placed over the surgical area, making sure that the gauze remains in place.  Do not change the gauze for the first hour unless the bleeding is excessive and the gauze pad is saturated.  It is extremely important to allow the blood clot to form on the surgery site. 

DO NOT KEEP the gauze in the mouth once the bleeding has stopped.  You may experience the taste of blood in your mouth for up to two days after the surgery.  Due to the leaching of the clot, your saliva may have a pink or red color.  

DO NOT drink with a straw and DO NOT rinse or brush your teeth vigorously or probe the area with the tongue, any objects or your fingers.  DO NOT SMOKE for at least 72 hours after surgery.  Smoking and the pulling action required to smoke is detrimental to the healing process.


Start rinsing your mouth every 2-3 hours with a warm salt-water rinse of 1/2 teaspoon of salt mixed with 8 ounces (1 cup) of warm water).  Continue to rinse your mouth with warm salt water every 2-3 hours for several days.  Continue rinsing with warm salt water 3-4 times a day for the next 2 weeks. You may start normal tooth brushing the day after the surgery or after bleeding is controlled.  Be careful to avoid the surgical site when brushing your teeth.

It is imperative to keep your mouth clean, since an accumulation of food or debris may promote infection.

STEADY BLEEDING.   Bleeding should not be severe. If bleeding persists, this may be due to the gauze pads being clenched between the teeth rather than exerting pressure on the surgery site. Try re positioning the gauze. If bleeding persists or becomes heavy, substitute a moist tea bag (first soaked in water, squeezed dry and wrapped in a moist gauze) on the area for 30 minutes. If bleeding continues, please call our office.

SWELLING & BRUISING.   Swelling & bruising is to be expected. Swelling usually reaches its  peak 24-48 hours after surgery. To minimize swelling and bruising, apply a cold pack or ice bag to the face adjacent to the surgical area. Cold packs should be applied for 20 minutes then removed for 20 minutes during the first 24-48 hours after surgery. After 48 hours, it is usually best to switch from using the cold pack to applying moist heat or heating pad to the same area, until swelling has receded. Tightness of the jaw muscles may cause difficulty in opening the mouth. Keep lips moist with cream or Vaseline to prevent cracking or chapping.

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DIET.   Eat any nourishing food that can be taken with comfort.   It is advisable to confine the first day’s food intake to liquids or pureed foods. Avoid hot or hard foods like nuts, sunflower seeds or popcorn, which may get lodged in the socket areas. Over the next several days, you may progress to more solid foods.   Proper nourishment aids in the healing process. If you are a diabetic, maintain your normal diet as much as possible and follow your physician’s instructions regarding your insulin schedule.

PAIN AND MEDICATIONS.   Unfortunately, most oral surgery is accompanied by some pain 7-10 days post operative. Take the pain medication prescribed as directed. The local anesthetic administered with the sedation during your surgery normally has a 3-hour duration, and it may be difficult to control the pain once the anesthetic wears off.   We therefore advise you to take the pain medication immediately after your surgery. If you do not achieve adequate pain relief, you may supplement each pill with an analgesic such as ibuprofen.   Taking the pain medication with soft food and a large volume of ice water will lessen any side effects of nausea or stomach upset.

If you were prescribed an antibiotic and are currently taking oral contraceptives, you should use an alternative method of birth control for the remainder of this cycle.


ORAL HYGIENE.   Keeping your mouth clean after oral surgery is essential. Keep using warm salt-water rinses to rinse your mouth at least 2-3 times daily for the next seven days. Begin your normal tooth brushing routine the following day. Soreness and swelling may prevent rigorous brushing of all areas, but make every effort to clean your teeth within your comfort level.

CARE OF SURGICAL AREA. Apply warm compresses to the skin overlying areas of swelling for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off to help soothe these tender areas. This will also aid in reducing swelling and stiffness.

If you were given an irrigating syringe, begin using it the third day after surgery to keep the sockets clean. Irrigate in the morning, after dinner and before bed. Fill it with warm salt water and irrigate any open sockets gently, as per prior statement. For wisdom teeth removal, please continue for up to 5 weeks.

NUMBNESS.   Loss of sensation of the lip and chin may occur, usually following lower wisdom teeth removal. This is usually temporary and disappears within a few days or weeks.

It is our desire that your recovery be as smooth and pleasant as possible. If you have any questions about your progress or any symptoms you are experiencing, please call our office at Glens Falls Office Phone Number 518-348-0634.