Washington-Baltimore Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
13934 Baltimore Avenue, Laurel, Maryland 20707
Phone: 301-498-3900 • Fax: 301-317-4758

After Wisdom Tooth Removal

The removal of impacted teeth is a serious 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 a half hour. After this time, the gauze pad should be removed and discarded. (In most cases, we will remove the gauze prior to leaving our office)
  • Vigorous mouth rinsing, spitting, using straws, 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. (For surgical removal of teeth cases, begin pain medication on arriving home so that the medication will take effect as the local anesthetics goes away. Remember take pain medication with plenty of liquids or foods)
  • Restrict your activities the day of surgery and resume normal activity when you feel comfortable.
  • Place ice packs to the outside of your face where surgery was performed. We believe in continuous ‘icing’ of surgical site for at least 24 hours, and with surgical removals of teeth even longer (48-72 hours)
    Refer to the section on Swelling for an explanation.

Bleeding

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 gauze pad over the area and biting firmly for 30 minutes. Repeat if necessary. If bleeding continues, bite on a moistened tea bag for 30 minutes. 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. If bleeding does not subside, call for further instructions.

Swelling

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 two to three days post-operatively. However, the swelling may be minimized by the immediate use of ice packs. Two plastic bags filled with ice, or ice packs should be applied to the sides of the face where surgery was performed. The ice packs should be left on continuously while you are awake. If swelling or jaw stiffness has persisted for several days, there is no cause for alarm. This is a normal reaction to surgery. You should alert the office if swelling is unchanged or worse after 4 days.

Pain

For moderate pain, one or two tablets of Tylenol or Extra Strength Tylenol may be taken every three to four hours or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) two to four 200 mg tablets may be taken every three to six hours.

For severe pain, take the pain medication prescribed as directed. 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 more and more every day. If pain persists for more than four (4) days, it may require attention and you should call the office.

Diet

Drink liquids after general anesthesia or IV sedation. Hydration is very important. Do not use straws when drinking from a glass. The sucking motion can cause more bleeding by dislodging the blood clot. You may eat anything soft by chewing away from the surgical site(s). High calorie, high protein intake is very important. Try to maintain a normal diet. You should prevent 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 five to six 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. Also beware, if you have been given local anesthesia with your surgery, you can easily ‘bite’ your lip or burn your lip with hot foods without sensation. Please take precaution!

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.

Keep The Mouth Clean

No rinsing of any kind 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 five to six times a day with a cup of warm water mixed with a half teaspoon of salt especially after eating.

Discoloration

In some cases, discoloration of the skin follows swelling. The development of black, blue, green, or yellow discoloration is due to blood spreading beneath the tissues. This is a normal postoperative occurrence, which may occur two to three days post-operatively.

Antibiotics

If you have been placed on antibiotics, take the tablets or liquid as directed. Antibiotics will be given to help prevent infection. In the event of a rash or other unfavorable reaction, please call the office immediately. If reactions continue and you are unable to reach the office in timely manner, discontinue the antibiotics.

Nausea & 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 Coke, tea, or ginger ale. You should sip slowly over a 15-minute period. When the nausea subsides, you can begin taking solid foods and the prescribed medicine. If nausea and vomiting reoccur, please contact the office.

Other Complications

  • 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 Dr. Jee if you have any questions.
  • A slight elevation of temperature immediately following surgery is not uncommon. If the temperature persists, notify the office. Tylenol or ibuprofen should be taken to reduce the fever.
  • You should be careful going from the lying down position to standing. You were not able to eat or drink prior to surgery. It was also difficult to take fluids. Taking pain medications can make you dizzy. You could get light headed when you suddenly stand up. Before standing up, you should sit for one minute and then get up.
  • 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 Dr. Jee.
  • 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.
  • Sore throats and pain when swallowing are not uncommon. The muscles get swollen. The normal act of swallowing can then become painful. This will subside in two to three days.
  • 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 that will resolve in time.

Finally

Sutures are placed in 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 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. So it’s really nothing to worry about. The suture removal appointment is an excellent time for the Doctor to evaluate the progress of healing. Please feel free to ask the Doctor regarding your postoperative phase.

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 cavity where the tooth was removed. The cavity will gradually fill in with new tissue over the next month. In the meantime, the area should be kept clean especially after meals with salt-water rinses or a toothbrush.

Your case is individual. No two mouths are alike. Do not accept well-intended advice from friends. Discuss your problem with the persons best able to effectively help you: Dr. Jee 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. Please call the office if you think this has occurred.

If you are involved in regular exercise, be aware that your normal nourishment intake is reduced. Exercise may weaken you. If you get light headed, stop exercising. It is advisable to discuss with the Doctor before resuming any exercise. Please free to do so.