I’ve just had oral surgery. What can I expect during recovery?

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Dentist Melbourne
Melbourne's Home of Dentistry

oral surgery recoverySo you’ve just had oral surgery. No doubt you are feeling a litter tender and unsure of what to expect over the next few days.

Follow our advice guide to your post-op recovery.

Gauze and ice packs 

Some oral surgery procedures will require you to leave the dental practice with gauze packs in your mouth; these should be removed approximately one to two hours after surgery. Some patients find ice packs applied over the cheeks soothing (or a packet of frozen peas will suffice!)

Numbness

Various regions of the face and mouth, in particular the lips, tongue and cheeks will be numb for some hours after the operation. You should be careful to avoid biting these areas during this time.

Swelling

This is a normal response and usually reaches a peak 24-36 hours after surgery. It is often related to the difficulty of the surgery. It will begin to significantly subside after four to five days.

Bruising

Bruising may appear as swelling resolves and is a common occurrence.

Bleeding

This is very common after oral surgery and responds well to direct pressure. If troublesome use the gauze provided or a knotted handkerchief to apply pressure to the site of bleeding for one hour. It is advisable that you place towels over your linen overnight. If bleeding is worrying and persistent please contact one of our friendly reception staff on 13 13 96 who will consult with your dentist.

Discomfort

Some degree of discomfort will always occur but to varying degrees. It is important to take analgesics regularly (not aspirin) soon after the operation – preferably before the numbness wears off. Most patients are considerably more comfortable after two to three days.

Nausea

Feeling sick or vomiting after oral surgery is not unusual and may relate to medication (especially codeine containing) or swallowed blood. It is wise to have clear fluids only in the first 12 hours and avoid dairy and spicy foods. If nausea is a problem consider a bicarbonate elixir (eg. Alka Seltzer). If vomiting is persistent please contact one of our friendly reception staff on 13 13 96 who will consult with your dentist.

Infection

This is uncommon following oral surgery. If it does occur it reveals itself as a late swelling (three to four days) and/or discomfort or the onset of a discharge. If antibiotics are prescribed it is important to complete the course even in the absence of problems.

Stitches 

Dissolving types are used in almost all cases and will fall out or dissolve after approximately seven days.

Oral care

Do not rinse the mouth until the next day. Early rinsing will promote bleeding. Salt water mouthwashes (teaspoon of salt in a glass of lukewarm water) four hourly are helpful. Regular tooth brushing should continue in addition to the mouthwashes.

Diet 

Restrict this to soft foods initially. There may be limitations of mouth opening for up to a week which usually subsides with the swelling. A gradual but determined return to normal is encouraged. Alcohol and smoking must be avoided for 48 hours.

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