POST OPERATIVE CARE FOLLOWING SURGERY
Immediately Following Oral Surgery:
- The gauze pad placed over the surgical area should be kept in place for a half hour with moderate biting pressure. After this time, the gauze pad should be removed and discarded. Replace the gauze if needed, but refrain from frequent changing as this dislodges the clot. Try to extend the time between changing of the gauze. A lightly moistened gauze works best, as a dry gauze tends to stick to the existing clot. Expect uoozing from the surgical area for up to 24 hours. You may discontinue this gauze procedure when the oozing is determined to be under control.
- Vigorous mouth rinsing or touching the wound area following surgery should be avoided. This may initiate bleeding by causing the blood clot that has formed to become dislodged. Using straws is acceptible if you avoid excessive sucking pressure with the straw.
- Take the prescribed pain medications before you begin to feel discomfort. This means after you leave the office and get settled and comfortable. More details below...
- Restrict your activities the day of surgery and the day after. Resume normal activity when you feel comfortable.
- Swelling is a normal occurrence after some oral surgery procedures. It usually peaks at 48 hours after surgery and is resolving nicely after 4 days. To help minimize swelling, apply an ice bag or a plastic zip lock bag with ice and a towel wrapped around it on the cheek and jaw adjacent to the surgical area. Apply the ice as much as possible for the first 36 hours.
- Drink plenty of fluids after surgery. Soft food and liquids are the best choices on the day of surgery. Return to a normal balanced diet as soon as possible after 48 hours unless otherwise directed by Dr. Hinson. Nutrition is extremely important for healing!
- You should begin taking pain medication as soon as you are settled at home after surgery. For most moderate pain, Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, etc.) is extrememly effective. Ibuprofen bought over the counter comes in 200 mg tablets: 3 tablets may be taken every 4-5 hours as needed for pain but for a few days only. Unless you are allergic to Ibuprofen, have a stomach problem with it, have been told not to take asprin or asprin "like" medications, or are on blood thinning medications, this is my best suggestion/recommendation for moderate pain control. 2 Extra Strength Tylenol may be taken every 4-5 hours if you prefer. You may also alternate the Tylenol (2 tablets) and the Ibuprofen (3 tablets) every 3-4 hours. This is a very effective technique for helping control discomfort, but you should only do this for a few days. Excessive Tylenol dosage is hard on the liver and kidneys. For moderate to severe pain, a prescribed prescription medication will be suggested and should be taken as directed on the label. If you are suspicious that a medication is causing you a problem, call the office immediately.
- Antibiotics may be prescribed. Take them exactly as recommended. Call the office with any problems with any prescribed medicine. Always take all of your antibiotic unless directed otherwise. If you are suspicious that your antibiotic is causing a problem for you in any way, call the office immediately.
- Mouth cleanliness is essential to good healing. Clean your mouth thoroughly after each meal beginning the day after surgery. Brush your teeth as best you can. Rinse with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water) up to six times a day (morning, after meals, bedtime, etc). Continue this procedure for a week or until healing is complete. REMEMBER: A clean wound heals better and faster.
- In some cases, discoloration of the skin follows swelling/surgery. The development of black, blue, green, or yellow discoloration is due to blood spreading beneath the tissues. This bruising is a normal post-operative occurrence, which may be noticed 1-2 days post-operatively and may last several days. After ice therapy for the first 24-36 hours, moist heat packs applied to the discolored area may speed up the body's natural removal of the discoloration. Bruising can even occur as a result of the local anesthetic injection alone. Some patients bruise more than others and if you have a concern, please contact the office for an evaluation.
- Sutures are often placed the area of surgery. The sutures typically dissolve approximately one week after surgery. Sometimes they become dislodged, this is no cause for alarm. If the suture is loose in your oral cavity, you may remove the suture from your mouth and discard it or call the office for assistance. If you have any questions about sutures in your mouth after surgery, contact the office.
- If numbness of the lip or chin occurs there is no cause for alarm. As stated to you before surgery, this is rare and most always temporary in nature. You should be aware that if your lip or cheek is numb, you could bite it and not feel the sensation. So be careful. Call the office if you have any questions about this numbness. We will want to examine you if this rare situation occurs and follow you closely during the expected resolution of this issue.
- Slight elevation of temperature immediately following surgery is not uncommon. If the temperature persists, notify the office. Tylenol or ibuprofen are usually being taken anyway for pain control and should help. Sustained post operative temperature of over 100 degrees needs to be reported to the office.
- You should be careful going from the lying down position to standing. You were generally not able to eat or drink prior to surgery. It was also difficult to take fluids. Taking pain medications can make you dizzy. You could get light headed when you stand up suddenly. Before standing up, you should sit for one minute then get up.
- Occasionally patients may feel small hard projections in the mouth, with their tongue, around the surgical area. The projections are not roots. They are usually the bony walls which supported the tooth or teeth that were removed. These projections usually smooth out spontaneously over time. If not, they can be easily removed or smoothed off in the future. Please mention these areas to Dr. Hinson if necessary.
- The corners of your mouth are stretched during surgery and they may dry out and crack. Your lips should be kept moist with an ointment such as vaseline. If the corners of your mouth are consitently cracked and red, a prescription medication may be in order. Let the staff know if you are experiencing this condition after surgery.
- A sore throat and pain when swallowing are not uncommon after surgery. The muscles can even be swollen. The normal act of swallowing can then become painful. This will generally subside in a very few days. If you have swallowing difficulty, call the office immediately.
- Stiffness of the jaw muscles may cause difficulty in opening your mouth for a few days following surgery. This is a fairly normal post-operative event which will resolve in time. There are some instances where the difficulty in opening wide persists a few weeks. Please let the office staff become aware of this issue if it persists.
- The pain and swelling should subside more and more each day following surgery. If your post-operative pain or swelling worsens or unusual symptoms occur call the office for instructions.
- There will be a depression or a cavity in the gums/bone where the tooth was removed. The cavity will gradually, over the next few weeks, fill in with the new tissue. In the mean time, the area should be kept clean, especially after meals, with salt water rinses.
- Some patients requre bone grafting during surgery. Small bone graft particles can be noticed at times as they become dislodged from the top of the graft. This is considered normal.
- Your case is individual as no two mouths are alike. Do not accept well intended advice from friends. Discuss your problem with the people best able to effectively help you: Dr. Lee Hinson and his staff, 501-565-0949
- Brushing your teeth is okay - just be gentle in the surgical areas.
- A dry socket occurs when the healing blood clot gets dislodged, irritated, infiltrated with bacteria and or food, and is disturbed prematurely in the tooth socket. Symptoms of pain at the surgical site and even pain to the ear and face may occur 3-4 days following surgery. There may be a bad taste or smell associated with this condition. Call the office if this occurs. 501-565-0949 and we will have you come by the office for an exam and special medications to help.