The following will cover important information regarding proper post-surgical care for both general and wisdom teeth extractions.

All Extraction Patients

After tooth extraction, it’s important for a blood clot to form to stop the bleeding and begin the healing process. That’s why we ask you to bite on a gauze pad for 30–45 minutes after the appointment. Proper placement will help you not swallow blood, which can make you nauseated. Replace the gauze pad(s) every 20–40 minutes. You may have to do this several times. When the gauze pads have little or no blood on them, they are no longer necessary.

Most of your bleeding will slow within 3–4 hours, but a small amount of bleeding is common for up to 24 hours. The amount of bleeding will vary from person to person. Do not rinse vigorously, suck on straws, drink alcohol, or brush teeth next to the extraction site for 72 hours. Limit exercise for the next 24 hours. Do not smoke for at least a week. These activities will disturb the clot and slow your healing.

You may feel some pain or experience swelling following surgery. Minimize swelling by applying an ice pack or an unopened bag of frozen peas or corn applied to the area. Swelling usually subsides after 72 hours. If you are not allergic or intolerant to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, start taking ibuprofen (also known as Advil® or Motrin®) as instructed by your doctor at the time of your surgery. If you are asthmatic, do not take ibuprofen unless you have tolerated it in the past.

If your pain is not controlled by the ibuprofen alone, take your prescribed narcotic as directed in addition. Ibuprofen and your prescribed narcotic can be taken together. Be certain to take your pain medicines with food to help prevent nausea. Remember, narcotic pain medicine will impair your judgment and reflexes. Call the office if the medication doesn’t seem to be working. If antibiotics are prescribed, continue to take them for the indicated length of time, even if signs and symptoms of infection are gone.

Drink lots of fluid and eat nutritious soft food on the day of the extraction. You can eat normally as soon as you are comfortable. It is important to resume your normal dental routine after 24 hours. This should include brushing and flossing your teeth at least once a day. A clean mouth will speed healing.

Wisdom Teeth Patients Only

Patients who have had their wisdom teeth removed should also follow these additional instructions.

Do not rinse on the day of surgery; it may prolong your bleeding. Begin saltwater rinses the day after surgery and continue for 1 week. Rinse with warm salt water 6–8 times each day. To make the saltwater solution, dissolve a ½ teaspoon of salt in a small glass of warm tap water.

If you have been given an irrigating syringe, start irrigation on the fifth day following surgery. Fill the syringe with warm salt water and place the tip of the syringe into the extraction site to clean. Do this 3–4 times a day for 2 weeks and lessen as the surgical site heals.

Do not eat for 2 hours after surgery. Start with clear liquids, such as apple juice, tea, or broth. Gradually ramp up your diet as tolerated. Always cool down any hot foods or liquids during the first 24 hours. You should eat only soft food for the first week: for example, soups, eggs, mashed potatoes, and meatloaf are fine. For 2 weeks (8 weeks if you had lower wisdom teeth extracted), do not eat hard, crunchy, or very chewy foods. To help prevent dry socket, do not use a straw for the first 5 days after surgery.

You can slowly resume physical activity after 3 days of recovery. Gradually increase your activity, such as jogging or tennis, 5–7 days after your surgery. If you have heavy bleeding, severe pain, continued swelling, or experience a reaction to the medication, please call our office immediately.

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