Post-Op Instructions: A Guide To Your Care Following Oral & Periodontal Surgery

At Dental365, we understand that periodontal, oral, and implant surgery is daunting to many of our patients. Below is a set of general guidelines to follow after surgery to help your healing process. Failure to adhere to these guidelines may result in delayed healing or discomfort.

First off, please be gentle with yourself as you heal and know that if any questions arise which are not answered below, you may call the office in which you were treated to address them.

Eating & Drinking

Do not eat anything until the numbness of the lip, cheek, or tongue wears off, this will prevent accidental injury by biting or burning. Please do not rinse or spit vigorously for the first 2-3 days as you may disturb the blood clot that is covering the surgical area and assisting in your healing process. Over the first 7-14 days, try to eat on the opposite side of your mouth in order to minimize stress on the healing areas. Avoid eating anything which is crunchy, hard, or sticky – these types of foods are more likely to disrupt sutures, membranes, or any packing which was placed and may also cause a secondary injury to an already sensitive area.

Post-Operative Bleeding

Slight bleeding is normal for several hours following surgery. Remember, one drop of blood in saliva will tint the saliva, so please do not be alarmed if your saliva has a reddish tint for the 1-2 days following surgery. If you feel your surgical site is continuing to ooze after the first 6-8 hours after surgery, simply use the gauze provided by the office to apply slight pressure on the area. Hold it there for 15-20 minutes before removing the gauze. You may also use a tea bag over the site (moisten in ice water first). Tea leaves contain tannic acids which help to stabilize a blood clot.

Bruising & Swelling

Depending on the nature of the procedure, the medications you take, and your personal health/dental history and blood chemistry, bruising and discoloration may be visible 3-7 days following surgery. For swelling, you may use ice packs or heat. A cold compress (ice or a bag of frozen vegetables) may be applied to the outer jaw for 10-15 minutes on/10-15 minutes off during the first 24 hours. Heat (warm compress/microwaved, moistened towel) can be applied to the outer jaw on the 2nd and 3rd days post-op. If you were swollen prior to your procedure, do not expect the swelling to disappear immediately. It can take time for swelling to dissipate. This is normal so do not be alarmed.

Discomfort

If your dentist has prescribed medication, please take them as directed. If you are unsure of any interactions, please contact the prescribing doctor. It is normal to experience general aching and/or throbbing in the area where you had surgery, as well as the injection sites. Most discomfort can be controlled by over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. We recommend 2 Advil (Ibuprofen 400 mg) and 1 Extra Strength Tylenol (Acetaminophen 500mg) every 6 hours as needed if no analgesics (pain medications) have been prescribed. It is imperative that you are mindful of all medications you are currently taking. Ibuprofen may have an additive effect to the anti-coagulant effect of aspirin.

Antibiotics

If you are given a prescription for antibiotics, it is critical that you take them as directed until they are gone. If you’re unsure of any possible interaction with existing prescription medications, please contact the prescribing doctor. If you do not complete the course of antibiotics, you will reduce their effectiveness in addition to increasing your risk for developing a more severe infection. Antibiotics have a tendency to cause mild stomach upset, and this is normal. To help offset this effect, avoid coffee and citrus fruits. Taking a probiotic supplement or eating a probiotic yogurt may also help.

***If you develop a rash, itching, or swelling (besides the surgical site) anywhere on your body, stop taking the antibiotics immediately and call your doctor. For severe reactions, report to the nearest emergency room. Additionally, if you experience severe stomach cramping or persistent diarrhea you should also stop taking the antibiotic and call us immediately.

Oral Care

Do not rinse or spit for the first 36-48 hours following surgery. It is very important to maintain the blood clot over the healing site and rinsing will disrupt it. After the first day and a half to two days, you may rinse very gently with a prescribed mouth rinse or warm, salt water 3-5 times a day or after every meal. Never use a mouthwash that contains alcohol. Also, do not brush the surgical site for 3-4 days and up to 2 weeks after surgery to avoid irritating the gums and/or stitches. Brush and floss normally in the rest of your mouth but do not spit forcefully, simply allow the water to fall out of your mouth over the sink. The goal is to keep the surgical site as clean as possible, but since you cannot brush for several days it’s important to cleanse the mouth with periodic rinsing to flush away pieces of food and debris. The cleaner the site, the quicker it will heal.

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