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After Wisdom Tooth Removal

The removal of impacted teeth is a serious surgical procedure. 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 a half-hour. After this time, the gauze pad should be removed and discarded.
  • After removal of the gauze, eat a small amount of soft cold food (i.e. pudding, yogurt, or jello)
  • Take the prescribed pain medications with fluids (water, juice, sports drink) after eating. Take the medication prior to the onset of pain before the numbness completely wears off. This will give the medication time to start working prior to the pain starting.
  • Relax and rest with your head elevated (head higher than heart).  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.
  • Avoid vigorous mouth rinsing and/or touching the wound area following surgery. This may cause bleeding by dislodging the blood clot in the socket.
  • Restrict your activities for 2-3 days following surgery and resume normal activity when you feel comfortable.
  • Place ice packs to the sides of your face for comfort and to reduce swelling.

A certain amount of bleeding is to be expected following surgery, bleeding should never be severe. 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 thirty minutes. Repeat as necessary for up to 2 hours. If bleeding continues, bite on a moistened black tea bag for thirty minutes. The tannic acid in the black tea helps to form a clot by contracting bleeding vessels. To minimize further bleeding, relax, sit upright, and avoid exercise. If bleeding does not subside, call our office for further instructions.


Swelling is normal and 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 healing. The swelling will peaks 2-3 days post-operatively. However, swelling may be minimized by the immediate use of ice packs. The provided ice packs, baggies of ice should be applied to the sides of the face where surgery was performed. The ice packs should be left on 20-30 minutes of each hour while you are awake. After 36 hours, ice has no further benefit on swelling. If swelling or jaw stiffness has persisted for several days, there is no cause for alarm. This is a normal reaction to surgery. Thirty-six hours following surgery, the application of moist heat to the sides of the face is beneficial in reducing the size of the swelling.


For moderate pain, one or two tablets of Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Extra Strength Tylenol may be taken every 3-4 hours. Tylenol SHOULD NOT be taken with prescription pain medication as this typically has Tylenol in it and can result in overdose.

Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) may be taken between doses of the prescription medication. Ibuprofen bought over the counter comes in 200 mg tablets: 3-4 tablets may be taken four times daily (every 6 hours), not to exceed 3200 mg daily for an adult. Consult our practice for individuals under 18.

For severe pain, the prescribed medication should be taken as directed. Many patients find it helpful to alternate the prescription medication and ibuprofen. We recommend alternating every 3 hours (i.e. take prescription at 12:00, take ibuprofen at 3:00, take prescription again at 6:00, take ibuprofen again at 9:00). When the pain has decreased (2nd or 3rd day) discontinue the prescription medication and substitute two extra strength Tylenol when you would have taken the prescription.

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 anesthetic or IV sedation, start by drinking liquids . Drink from a glass and 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. Gradually increase your diet as your comfort allows. A high calorie, high protein intake is very important. Our staff can provide suggested diet instructions. Make sure to drink a lot of fluids to avoid dehydration and nausea. Your food intake will be limited for the first few days. 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 continue to eat.

Avoid hard and crunchy foods (chips, nuts, crackers, cookies, hard bread, etc.) for about 2 weeks following surgery.

Keep the Mouth Clean

No rinsing of any kind should be performed until the day following surgery. The day after surgery you should begin rinsing at least 2-3 times a day, especially after eating, with a teaspoon of salt mixed into one cup of warm water.


In some cases, discoloration or bruising of the skin follows swelling. The development of black, blue, green, or yellow discoloration is due the aging of the bruise. This will typically occur below the lower jaw line, especially with removal of bottom teeth. 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 or treat 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

Nausea is not uncommon after surgery when taking prescription pain medication. 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 fifteen-minute period. When the nausea subsides, you can begin taking solid foods and the prescribed medicine.

Nausea can be reduced by preceding prescription pain medication with a small amount of soft food and taking the medication with a large volume of water.

Other Complications

  • 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 us if you have any questions.
  • Slight elevation of temperature immediately following surgery is not uncommon. If the temperature persists or is greater than 101.5 F(38.6 C), 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 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 us.
  • 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 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. These are usually self-dissolving sutures. Sometimes they become dislodged. This is no cause for alarm. Just remove the suture from your mouth and discard it. The sutures will typically dissolve about 1 week after surgery.
  • 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 salt water rinses or a toothbrush.
  • Your case is unique, no two mouths are alike. Discuss any problems with the trained experts best able to effectively help you: us 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 near the ear 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.

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