After Wisdom Tooth Removal

Post-Operative Instructions

The following will cover important information regarding proper post-surgical care for wisdom teeth extraction. If you have been scheduled to have your wisdom teeth removed, it will be important to follow these instructions exactly as we present them.

  • Discomfort is normal after the extraction of teeth. Generally, you will be prescribed ibuprofen (also known as Advil® or Motrin®) and an opioid narcotic medication (usually hydrocodone or Norco) to control this discomfort. Please take these medications as instructed by your doctor at the time of your surgery. Ibuprofen and your prescribed narcotic can be taken together. Be certain to take your pain medicines with food; this will help prevent nausea. Remember, narcotic pain medicine will impair your judgment and reflexes, so you should not drive or operate machinery while taking them.
  • Gauze pad(s) should be placed directly over the extraction site(s) and held in place with firm biting pressure. Replace the gauze pads every 30 minutes until the bleeding stops. The amount of bleeding will vary from person to person. Most of your bleeding will slow within 3–4 hours, but a small amount of bleeding is not unusual for up to 24 hours.
  • Begin saltwater rinses the day after surgery and continue for 1 week. Please do not rinse on the day of surgery as it may prolong your bleeding and delay healing. Rinse with warm salt water 4-5 times each day. To make the saltwater solution, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in a small glass of warm water.
  • If you have been given an irrigating syringe, start irrigation on the third day following surgery. Fill the syringe with warm salt water and place the tip of the syringe into the extraction site to clean. Do this 3–4 times a day for 2 weeks and lessen as the surgical site heals.
  • Swelling is normal after surgery and is a major cause of post-extraction discomfort. Swelling typically peaks by the third day and then starts to resolve; it can be reduced by the use of an ice pack. Apply the ice pack to the side of your face for 10-15 minutes at a time. Do not freeze the skin. Ice packs are useful for the first 24 hours only. Also, sleeping with your head elevated for the first few days will lessen the facial swelling. These measures will not eliminate swelling, but they will help to reduce its severity.
  • We recommend you eat something as soon as possible before taking your post-op medication. Taking pain medication on an empty stomach will increase the risk of nausea and vomiting. Start with clear liquids, such as apple juice, tea, or broth. Gradually ramp up your diet as tolerated. Always cool down any hot foods or liquids during the first 24 hours. If you were sedated for surgery, do not eat fatty, creamy or oily foods; these foods may cause nausea. You should eat only soft foods for the first week: for example, soups, eggs, mashed potatoes, yogurt, and blended shakes are fine. To help prevent dry sockets, do not use a straw for the first 3 days after surgery.
  • Begin brushing your teeth the day after surgery. It is important to brush all of your teeth, even if the teeth and gums are sensitive. Bacterial plaque and food accumulation near the extraction site will delay healing. Be gentle as you near the surgical sites to make sure the sutures do not come loose prematurely.
  • Do not smoke for at least a week. Smoking will increase your bleeding and can impair healing resulting in a dry socket.
  • Unless told otherwise, avoid vigorous physical activity for 4-5 days following your surgery. Physical activity increases your blood pressure, which will cause an increase in your swelling, pain, and bleeding. You may gradually increase your activity, such as jogging or tennis, 5–7 days after your surgery.