Important Aftercare Information for Oral Surgery Patients

Following any type of oral surgery, patients must adhere strictly to a specific aftercare regimen in order to avoid complications and to decrease recovery time. Because each case is different and every patient has a different tolerance for discomfort after surgery, the following is intended solely as a set of guidelines for oral surgery patients. If, at any point after your procedure, you feel that your recovery is not progressing as it should, it is strongly recommended that you contact your oral surgeon immediately for professional counsel.

 Directly After Surgery

Because your gums, tongue, cheeks and lips may be completely numbed by local anesthetic, it is important that you take special care to avoid injury to these areas during the first few hours after surgery. Be mindful of the fact that very hot foods and beverages may cause burns that you cannot feel, so it is best to ingest only cool, soft foods until sensation has completely returned.

In addition, remember that the numbed areas of your mouth are very close to the sharp and rough contours of your teeth. A bite that you may not feel immediately may prove to be serious, so it is suggested that patients keep speech and eating to a minimum during the first few hours after the procedure.

 The First 24 Hours After Surgery

It is normal to experience some bleeding and excess salivation after oral surgery. As long as bleeding is not severe, the following methods should help to alleviate the problem:

  • Avoid hot food and beverages
  • Do not rinse with mouthwash or water, as this may dislodge any necessary blood clots or keep them from forming properly
  • Do not put pressure on the sides of the face
  • Get plenty of physical rest and avoid strenuous activity
  • Do not smoke, drink alcohol or drink anything from a straw

Though some bleeding after surgery is to be expected, there are ways to minimize this issue. A small, clean gauze towel made of cotton can be rolled up tightly and placed directly over the surgical site. Avoid cotton balls or tissue, as these materials often stick to the wound and cause irritation.

Moderate pressure exerted by the jaws can help to stop or lessen bleeding. If, after three 15 minute periods of continuous pressure, the wound continues to bleed, a call to the oral surgeon should be made.

If, at any time, bleeding becomes extremely heavy and does not respond to these techniques, contact your surgeon immediately. Excessive bleeding is not normal after the first 24 hours and may indicate a more serious problem.

The Second Day After Surgery and Beyond

After the initial 24 hours has passed, the surgical site may be gently washed with a solution of warm salt water up to four times per day, preferably after meals. A single teaspoon of salt added to eight ounces of warm water provides an ideal rinse that helps to prevent infection and irritation.

If your surgeon has prescribed pain medication, it is usually advisable to take this with food to avoid nausea. If you have been given no prescription painkiller, over-the-counter ibuprofen may help to reduce swelling and discomfort during the first three to four days after surgery. After this period, pain and stiffness should be at a minimum, depending on the extent of your oral surgery procedure. More specific aftercare information will be provided at your consultation or on the day of your surgery.

Face and Jaw Surgery Center serves all of North Dakota and North West Minnesota including Moorhead, MN and East Grand Forks, MN

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