Tooth extraction and Wisdom teeth removal: Post-operative care instructions

Frequently asked questions and concerns

After an extraction, people often have the following questions and concerns.

Pain when swallowing is not uncommon, as the surrounding muscles get swollen – especially after a general anaesthetic. This should subside in two to three days.

Occasionally patients may feel a hard, sharp projection with their tongue. This is usually not a bit of tooth; instead, it is the bony walls, which supported the tooth. These projections usually smooth out by themselves. If not, they can be reduced in another simple procedure but this is rarely required.

This is very common, as we’ve created a hole where the tooth has been removed. Do not probe around the area; instead, try rinsing your mouth. If rinsing is not effective, please call into our office and pick up a syringe to help flush out the area.

If you have just had a tooth extracted or your wisdom teeth removed, these post-operative care instructions will help you understand what to expect.

You can expect some bleeding or redness in your saliva for at least 24 hours. Biting on a gauze pad placed directly on the bleeding wound for 30 minutes can control excessive bleeding. If the bleeding is so excessive that your mouth fills rapidly with blood, call your surgeon immediately.

Make sure you consume some liquids after a general anaesthetic or IV sedation. Do not use a straw, as the sucking motion can cause more bleeding by dislodging any exposed blood clot. 

You can consume food and drink freely according to your tolerance, although you may prefer to have soft foods for a few days following your procedure. If your diet becomes restricted, you should compensate for this by increasing your fluid intake. Try not to miss a single meal, however – you will feel better, have more strength, feel less discomfort and heal faster if you continue to eat.

Occasionally you can experience stiffness in the jaw muscles following an extraction; applying a warm moist towel to the affected side of the face can relieve this. Chewing gum at intervals may also help relax the muscles.

Avoid rinsing your mouth, spitting and touching the affected area for the first 24 hours following an extraction, as this may cause disruption of the blood clot. On the day following the extraction, begin rinsing four to six times a day using either the prescribed mouth rinse or warm salty water. 

Tooth brushing should continue as normal, with the exception of the extraction site. After two to three days, we encourage you to softly brush the extraction site, as this will assist with the breakdown of the stitches and ensure the area is clean. You can expect some mild discomfort and bleeding.

Expect some pain and tenderness following an extraction. It is best to take pain relief before the numbness wears off. Your surgeon will advise if prescription pain relief is required, but over-the-counter medication like Nurofen or paracetamol may be sufficient.

Limit physical activity for the first three days after surgery. Overexertion may lead to post-operative bleeding and discomfort.

Blowing your nose, sucking liquid through a straw and smoking can create negative pressure and should all be avoided for three weeks after the surgery. Coughing or sneezing should be done with the mouth open to relieve pressure, if possible.

If sutures have been placed, these will usually dissolve within 10 to 14 days. Some sutures may become loose and fall out prematurely; however, this isn’t a problem and can be ignored.

You may experience some swelling and bruising around the mouth, cheeks, eyes and side of the face. The amount of swelling varies from person to person and also depends on the area of extraction. 

Swelling and bruising may not appear immediately, but can instead occur up to two to three days following surgery. You can help to minimise swelling by applying ice packs to the affected area for the three hours after surgery, alternating 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off. Sleeping with your head elevated will also help to reduce swelling.

It is not uncommon for patients to feel nauseous after an IV sedation or general anaesthetic. Feeling nauseous could also be a reaction to strong pain relief medication; if this is the case, halve your dosage, or take regular paracetamol instead. If requested, we can provide an anti-nausea medication to prepare you for this issue.

If vomiting persists, please call our office or your surgeon.

After surgery

After extractions you may experience the side effects described here and will also need to follow the instructions on this page. Following an extraction at hospital or in our rooms, patients should return home and rest quietly. 

If you have heavy bleeding, severe pain or continued swelling for two to three days after your surgery, or a reaction to any medications, call our office immediately on 5229 3200. If this occurs after hours, please call your surgeon on his mobile number, which can be found on the post-operative instructions you’ll receive after your procedure.

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