What to do after Extraction (Post-op Instructions)

Post-operative Instructions After Tooth/Teeth Extraction

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


Patients who have received a general anesthetic should return home from the office immediately upon discharge, and lie down with the head elevated until all of the effects of the anesthetic 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 12 hours or longer if you feel any residual effect from the anesthetic.

Do not drive, use appliances or equipment that could be dangerous, such as power tools, stove, burners, lawn mowers, and garbage disposals.

Watch out for dizziness. Walk slowly and take your time. Sudden changes of position can also cause nausea. Do not make any important decisions. You may change your mind tomorrow.

Do not drink any alcoholic beverages. The drugs in your body may cause a dangerous reaction to alcohol.

If you feel nauseated or sick to your stomach, drink clear liquids like 7-Up, broth, apple juice, ginger ale or eat Jell-O. If these liquids do not make you sick to your stomach, try eating soft foods like potatoes, rice, pasta and oatmeal.

Avoid strenuous activity for a minimum of one week.


Do not disturb the surgical area today. Bite down gently but firmly on the gauze pack that we have initially placed over the surgical area, making sure that they remain in place. Do not replace them unless bleeding is not being controlled. It is important to allow blood clot formation of the surgery site. DO NOT drink with a straw, smoke cigarettes or suck on hard candies for a minimum of three days. This can rupture the blood clot, which can be detrimental to the healing process. DO NOT rinse or spit for 24 hours. DO NOT rinse or brush your teeth vigorously or probe the area with the tongue, any objects or your fingers. You may brush your teeth gently avoiding the surgical site.


Some bleeding, oozing and blood tinged saliva is normal and may be present for 24 hours. When you return home, remove gauze immediately and do not replace unless there is steady bleeding. Gauze should not be left in mouth longer than 30 minutes.


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 repositioning the gauze. If bleeding persists or becomes heavy, substitute a dry tea bag on the area for 20-30 minutes. If steady bleeding persists, please call our office.


Swelling is to be expected, and usually reaches it’s maximum in 3-5 days. To minimize swelling, cold packs or ice bags wrapped in a towel should be applied to the face adjacent to the surgical area. This should be applied 20-30 minutes on and then removed for 20-30 minutes during the first 12-24 hours (no ice should be applied if there was infection). If you were prescribed a medication for swelling, be sure to take as directed. Bruising may occur but should disappear soon. Tightness of jaw muscles may cause difficulty in opening the mouth. This should disappear within 7 days. Keep lips moist with cream or Vaseline to prevent cracking or chapping.


Eat any nourishing food that can be taken with comfort. It is advisable to confine the first day’s food intake to bland liquids or pureed or soft foods. Avoid 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.


Unfortunately, most oral surgery is accompanied by some degree of discomfort. Take the pain medication prescribed as directed. The local anesthetic administered with the general anesthetic during your surgery normally has 3-hour duration, and it may be difficult to control the pain once the anesthetic wears off. Therefore, we advise you to take the pain medication immediately after you return home, after eating something nourishing. If you do not achieve adequate pain relief, you may supplement each pill with an analgesic such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Taking the pain medication with soft food and a large volume of water will lessen any side effects of nausea or upset stomach. If you were prescribed an antibiotic and are currently taking oral contraceptives, you should use an alternate method of birth control for the remainder of this cycle.


If you wear orthodontic appliances, replace them immediately after the surgery unless otherwise instructed. If these appliances are left out of the mouth for any length of time it is often difficult or impossible to reinsert them.


The blood clot on the surgical site may be lost causing a dry socket. There will be a noticeable, distinct, persistent pain in the jaw, which may cause other teeth to ache. If you do not see steady improvement during the first few days after surgery, or if severe pain persists, please call our office to report the symptoms.


This may be expected and usually limited to the neck or cheek area. Occasionally, the arm or hand near the site where the needle was placed to administer IV drugs may remain inflamed and tender. It often takes a week for this to completely disappear.


Loss of sensation of the lip and chin may occur, usually following lower wisdom teeth removal. As previously explained this is usually temporary and disappears within a few days or weeks. Occasionally, some numbness may persist for months, due to the close association of the roots of the teeth to the nerve that supplies sensation to these areas described.

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 on 02 9744 0222.

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