After Oral Surgery

Oral Surgery Post-operative Care

Proper care and attention after your oral surgery ensures a successful procedure and a speedy recovery. While you may not experience all of the following, preparation and knowledge are key to a good post-operative experience.

Our Sacramento dentists will help you lessen bleeding after oral surgery.

Gauze helps control bleeding immediately after oral surgery


The gauze pad that was placed in your mouth after surgery acts as a protective dressing. It should be left in place for 2 hours while applying gentle pressure. Some oozing is to be expected, so covering your pillow with a towel is suggested. If the seeping or oozing becomes excessive, apply firm pressure with a clean gauze pad for one hour directly over the site of surgery. Uncontrolled bleeding is a matter that should be brought to our attention, so do not hesitate to call our Sacramento dental office at 916-538-6900 if you are concerned.


When your numbness wears off, some pain is to be expected. Fill your pain control prescription at your local pharmacy and use as directed. It is recommended to start your pain pills 1-2 hours after your oral surgery and continue as needed. If you experience nausea from the medication, taking it with a 7-Up® or ginger ale may help. Grinding up the pill and taking it with food may also help with nausea. Over-the-counter medication may also be advised, usually 800 mg of ibuprofen (for adults) to reduce pain and inflammation. Ibuprofen is recommended every 6 hours for up to a week after surgery. Remember that it is easier to maintain pain control when it’s kept under control, so keep to your advised schedule of pain management.


If you experience nausea after oral surgery, it is likely due to pain medications such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and codeine.  Nausea is not typical of ibuprofen. Remember to take your prescription pain medication with some food in your stomach if possible. Drinking 7-Up®, ginger ale or some baking soda in water can help alleviate nausea. Mild tea, broth and soft foods are the first foods to try as you reintroduce meals into your diet.


Expect swelling and stiffness following your oral surgery. These are normal and should not alarm you. The worst swelling occurs over the first two days, and then it subsides. Treat any swelling with a combination of ice and heat as follows:

  1. Apply an ice pack on your cheeks for the first 12-24 hours. Remove and reapply in 20 minute intervals.
  2. Use moist heat on your cheeks and jaw on the 2nd and 3rd day to relieve stiffness.
  3. Moderate gum chewing and gentle stretching exercises starting the day after surgery relieves stiffness.


Food recommendations for after oral surgery are available from our Sacramento dentists.

Soup is a good food for after oral surgery.

Your hydration and nourishment needs should not be neglected.

  1. On the day of surgery, a light liquid diet is recommended (breakfast drinks, Jello®, smoothies, soups, milk shakes, broth, etc.).
  2. Do not use a straw because the muscles required may disturb the healing process.
  3. On the following day, try a variety of soft foods and then continue to slowly work up to your normal diet.
  4. Avoid chewy, sticky or very hard to chew foods while your mouth is healing.

Remember that jaw movement is good to keep the swelling and stiffness down, so an entire week of ice cream (as good as that sounds) is not doctor’s orders.

Oral Hygiene

Starting on the day after your oral surgery, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water. Do not perform any aggressive rinsing or tooth brushing on the first day or so. If you have been provided a syringe (Monojet®), use it to flush food and debris from your healing tooth socket. When you resume brushing, avoid your surgery site for two days. Be careful and gentle, but remember that good oral hygiene is important for proper healing.

Post-operative Activities

After Oral Surgery

Do not use straws after oral surgery!

  1. After surgery, lie quietly with your head elevated the remainder of the day and continue resting for the first 24 hours.
  2. Don’t expect to return to work or normal activities immediately — two to three days of rest is advised.
  3. Smoking should be discontinued for at least 7 days. It does not promote healing and the sucking action can compromise the surgical area.
  4. Do not use a straw to eat or drink! The motions required prevent proper healing in your mouth.
  5. Vigorous physical activities and sports should not be resumed until your surgical areas are comfortable, the swelling is down and a normal diet is possible.
  6. Contact sports should not be resumed for approximately 1 week post-operatively.
  7. Musical wind instruments should not be played for at least 1 week to 10 days after most oral surgeries.


Do not be alarmed if you have bruising on your face after oral surgery. Some discoloration, often quite noticeable, is to be expected for a week after oral surgery.


If you had a tooth removed near a nerve during oral surgery, numbness may result in that area of your jaw. Do not be alarmed if you experience numbness or tingling, as this consequence is rarely permanent.

Taste and Odor

Because your dental hygiene should be limited and gentle in the days following your surgery, you may experience a bad taste or odor in your mouth. Using hydrogen peroxide to rinse and resuming your normal routine of brushing and flossing will soon get rid of this unpleasant after effect of oral surgery.

Uncommon Oral Surgery Problems

While oral surgery won’t ever make your Top Ten Fun Things in Life list, it most likely won’t be the worst thing you ever experience either. Extreme pain, excessive swelling, pain in your ear, difficulty swallowing or opening your mouth, developing a very painful dry socket – these are all rare occurrences, but should be reported to us so you can be evaluated. Most likely your milder symptoms will go away with good home care, but please do not hesitate to call us at 916-538-6900 with your concerns or worries.


If you experience difficulty in breathing, develop a sudden high fever, have excessive bleeding that cannot be stopped or any other disturbing problems following your surgery, you should call our office immediately (916-538-6900) or go to your nearest emergency room. The Sacramento Dentistry Group has a 24-hour answering service after hours that can reach your dentist.

Your Sacramento dentists needs to see you!

Your post-operative checkup is a very important dental visit.

Remember Your Follow-up Visit

A follow-up visit to check on your progress should be kept, even if you think there are no problems. Your Sacramento dentist is here to assess your healing process and keep you on track for improved dental health in your future. When your oral surgery is over and done with, you can celebrate by buying yourself a fancy new toothbrush, some good tasting toothpaste, a new packet of floss and a bottle of minty fresh mouthwash. And if you really want and need a pat on the back, our staff provides those too.

Schedule Your Free Oral Surgery Consultation