After Wisdom Tooth Removal
The removal of wisdom teeth is a surgical procedure that can range from easy to difficult depending on the position of the teeth. A tooth’s position can range from being completely erupted to completely impacted. Post-operative care is very important. Unnecessary pain and complications such as infection and swelling can be minimized if these instructions are followed carefully.
Immediately Following Surgery
- The gauze pad placed over the surgical area should be kept in place for 20-30 minutes. After this time, the gauze pad should be removed and replaced. The gauze should be changed every 20-30 minutes for the next 2-3 hours until the bleeding lessens or stops.
- Vigorous mouth rinsing and/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 sensation of the local anesthetic wearing off.
- Restrict your activities for a couple of days after your 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 a more thorough explanation.
A certain amount of bleeding is to be expected following surgery. Slight bleeding, oozing, or redness in the saliva is not uncommon. Bleeding may be controlled by first rinsing or wiping any old clots from the surgical site, then placing a gauze pad over the area and biting firmly for 20-30 minutes. Repeat if necessary. If bleeding continues, bite on a moistened black tea bag for thirty minutes. The tannic acid in the black tea helps in the clotting process. To minimize further bleeding, do not become excited, sit upright, and avoid exercise. If bleeding does not subside, call our office 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. Swelling may not become apparent until the day following surgery and will not reach its maximum until 24-48 hours 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. The ice packs should be left on continuously while you are awake. After 48 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. 48 hours following surgery, the application of moist heat to the sides of the face is beneficial in reducing the size of the swelling.
For mild to moderate pain, the medication of choice is an anti-inflammatory like Advil or Motrin (generic name is Ibuprofen). Take 2-3 tablets up to four times a day, not to exceed 3200mg daily for an adult. Consult our practice for individuals under 18. If you are not able to take an anti-inflammatory medication you can substitute Tylenol or Extra Strength Tylenol.
For severe pain, the prescribed medication should be taken as directed. Do not take any of the above medication if you are allergic to them, or have been instructed by your doctor not to take it. 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, it may require attention and you should call the office.
After general anesthesia or IV sedation only liquids should initially be consumed. Drink from a glass and do not use straws. The sucking motion can cause more bleeding by dislodging the blood clot. A high calorie, high protein intake is very important. Our staff can provide suggested diet instructions. Nourishment should be taken regularly. You can prevent dehydration by taking fluids regularly. Your food intake will be limited for the first few days and to compensate for this you should increase your fluid intake. At least 5-6 glasses of liquid should be taken daily. Try not to miss any meals. You will feel better, have more strength, less discomfort and heal faster if you are adequately nourished and hydrated.
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 up for one minute before standing.
Keep the mouth clean
An important part of healing is keeping your mouth clean. You can rinse gently with warm salt water or an over the counter mouth rinse 2-3 times a day for the week following your surgery. Brush your teeth as best as you can being careful to avoid the surgical sites. Any form of oral hygiene is better than doing nothing at all.
In some cases, discoloration (bruising) 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 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 any other unfavorable reaction and contact our office immediately. Call the office if you have any questions.
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 tea, coke, or ginger ale. You should sip slowly over a fifteen to thirty minute period of time. When the nausea subsides you can begin taking soft foods and the prescribed medicine. If the nausea does not subside call the office for further instructions – there are medications that can be prescribed if the nausea persists.
- If numbness of the lip, chin, or tongue occurs there is no cause for alarm. As reviewed in your consultation, 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. Call Dr. Maiorino if you have any questions.
- Slight elevation of temperature immediately following surgery is not uncommon. If the temperature persists, notify the office. Advil, Motrin or Tylenol can be taken to reduce the fever.
- You should be careful going from the lying down position to standing. You could get light headed from low blood sugar or medications. Before standing up, you should sit for one minute before getting 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. Maiorino.
- 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 or Aquaphor.
- Sore throats and pain when swallowing are not uncommon. The normal act of swallowing can become painful – this should subside in 2-3 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 which will resolve in time.
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 usually 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 our office for instructions.
There will be a void where the tooth was removed. The void will fill in with new tissue gradually over the next month. In the meantime, the area should be kept clean, especially after meals, with gentle rinsing or light brushing.
Your case is unique, no two mouths are alike. Discuss any problems with the trained experts best able to effectively help you: Dr. Maiorino or your general 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 extraction socket. It is much more common in the lower jaw than the upper. Symptoms of pain at the surgical site and even pain that radiates near the ear or front teeth may occur 4-5 days following surgery. Call the office if this occurs.
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.