Surgical Pre/Post-Op Instructions
- Do not eat or drink anything for at least 8 hours prior to surgery.
- You may take the medications you typically take on a daily basis, unless otherwise instructed by the surgeon or your medical doctor. Please take them with only a small sip of water.
- A responsible adult must accompany the patient to the office, stay on the premises, and drive the patient home after the procedure.
- The patient should not drive or engage in anything with any level of responsibility for the rest of the day after general anesthesia (intravenous sedation).
- Please wear loose fitting clothing with sleeves that may be rolled up past the elbow, and wear comfortable, non-high-heeled shoes. Do not wear contact lenses.
- Do not wear nail polish on the day of surgery.
- If you have an illness such as a cold or sore throat please notify the office.
- All minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for their surgery, (as well as the initial consultation).
Immediately after surgery, the doctor typically places gauze at the extraction site and has the patient bite down for 30 to 60 minutes. This pressure helps to compress the blood vessels and form a blood clot which ultimately will stop the bleeding.
Very often, after dental extractions or removal wisdom teeth, there may be some “oozing” and the saliva may appear pink. This is normal. In such cases, patients are encouraged to not spit, or drool. They should swallow their own secretions as they normally would. Smoking, spitting, drinking through straws, and rinsing with mouthwash increases the risk for bleeding or prolonged oozing, and is not recommended.
- After surgery, bite down on the gauze for 30-60 minutes. Try to talk as little as possible and maintain as much pressure as you can. At the end of the 30-60 minutes, carefully remove the gauze and throw it away. Do not spit, drink through a straw, smoke, or rinse your mouth out.
- If the bleeding continues (eg. blood is pooling in the cheeks, or you are spitting out large blood clots), place two new pieces of gauze into the site and bite down firmly for 60 minutes. Apply continuous pressure and try not to talk during this time. At the end of the 60 minutes, carefully remove the gauze as before. Do not spit.
- Alternatively, instead of gauze, black tea bags may be used. The key, however, to stopping the bleeding is applying heavy pressure to the extraction site.
Swelling is very common after surgery. Typically, swelling peaks at 48 to 72 hours, and then starts to resolve over time. Swelling may be asymmetric, meaning one side of your face may be more swollen than the other side. It is important to tell the difference between normal post-op swelling and infection.
- Immediately after surgery, you should apply a cold compress to your cheek. Make sure the compress isn’t too cold (wrap it in a kitchen towelette) and apply pressure to your cheek for 20 minutes, then take a break.
- If you had teeth removed on both sides of your jaw, you may do 20 minutes on one side, then switch to the other for 20 minutes.
- Continue this process for the rest of the day (ie. the day of surgery); after 24 hours, there is no benefit to ice packs and they may be removed.
- It is important to be able to tell the difference between normal swelling after surgery and infection. Swelling that does not resolve, or has resolved, and then comes back several days later is not normal. In such cases you should call the office to be seen.
After surgery, your body needs energy to start the healing process. Many people think they will only be able to have soup, or jello. This is not the case; there are a number of foods that you can and should eating after surgery.
- Eat soft, easy foods after surgery. Foods you typically eat with a fork or a spoon are okay. For example, spaghetti and meatballs, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, eggs, soups, smoothies, shakes, ice cream are all good food choices. They are easy to eat and are high in calories.
- Foods that you typically eat with just your hands, or foods that require a knife are probably not good choices. Bagels, cookies, pizza, T-bone steaks should be avoided for at least a couple of days after surgery.
- There are always exceptions to the rule and you can advance your diet as you feel more comfortable after surgery.
The doctor may prescribe medications such as antibiotics or pain relievers after surgery. These are tailored to each pt and each surgery. Specific instructions in this regard will be discussed with you before and after your surgery.
- Take any prescribed medications as instructed. Do not take more or less. Typically, pain medications are written on an “as needed” basis.
- Do not give your medications to other people and do not take other people’s medications,even if they have had the same surgery as you.
- You should take your medications with food, whenever possible. The pain medications prescribed can be very tough on a patient’s stomach.
- If one of the medications you are prescribed causes a rash, please call the office immediately.
- If one of the medications you are prescribed causes hives, tongue or throat swelling, or difficulty breathing, go to your nearest hospital emergency department.
After your surgery, the doctor may place stitches or ‘sutures’ over the extraction sites. The sutures we use dissolve on their own and are known as resorbable sutures. Over a period of time, the suture loses its tensile strength, the knot comes out, and the suture is lost.
- Your suture may fall out a week after your surgery, or even the next day. This is okay. They do not need to be replaced.
- Most of the time, you are not even aware that the suture has been lost.
After surgery, TAKE IT EASY! rest and relax. Read a nice book or watch television. Your return to work or school is individual and should be guided by your strength and how you feel. Immediately after surgery, you should stay away from any strenuous activity. Also, if you were sedated, you should not operate a vehicle or perform any task requiring any level of responsibility.
- Although this is not a comprehensive list, activities to avoid after surgery include: weightlifting, athletics (soccer, baseball, field hockey, etc..), running, playing a wind instrument (eg. in a band), or any work that may be characterized as strenuous, etc.
- Do not smoke after surgery. Smoking may increase your risk for infection and may cause a dry socket, which is painful and lengthens your recovery time.
- Refrain from drinking alcohol after surgery.
It is important after surgery to maintain good oral hygiene. You should brush your teeth as you normally do, however be gentle around the surgical site and the sutures.
- You should brush your teeth after surgery. Take care at the surgical area and avoid brushing directly over the stitches.
- Warm salt water rinses are permissible; however, many patients ‘over do it’ with the rinses. If a patient is too aggressive rinsing his mouth, he may actually dislodge the blood clot and spur on more bleeding, or worse, a dry socket. If you must rinse, wait at least 2-3 days after surgery and rinse very gently. Also, do not use alcohol-based mouth rinses. Warm salt water will do the trick.