Post operative instructions after oral surgery

These instructions are for patients who have undergone minor oral surgery, including extractions of impacted teeth, apicectomy, oral biopsy and pre prosthetic surgery.

Your local anaesthetic will take a couple of hours to wear off, but when it does you will experience some discomfort as a result of your surgery. It is therefore important that you take some painkillers before your local anaesthetic wears off. Depending on your medical history, medication such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and diclofenac are often helpful - but please ensure that you read the instructions with the medicine to ensure that you are taking the correct dose at the correct time.

It is sensible to take your painkillers regularly for the first couple of days to minimise any discomfort and reduce inflammation.

There's no need to eat a completely liquid diet after oral surgery, but you might want to choose your foods carefully for the first few days. The important thing is not to eat anything that might cause you to hurt yourself, and to ensure that you clean your mouth out after eating. The best way to do this is by using warm salty mouthwashes (teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water) two or three times per day after food. Salty mouth rinses should start the day after surgery.

Toothbrushing should continue as normal, but you might want to be particularly careful not to hurt yourself by avoiding the surgical site or at least brushing very carefully around it until your discomfort subsides.

Smoking will make infection more likely, so avoiding smoking after surgery is advisable.

Avoid vigorous exercise or workouts until your mouth feels a bit better - exercise might make you more likely to bleed.

Infection is unlikely, but does happen. You will be prescribed antibiotics only if clinically indicated, but if you think you have an infection, please call and ask for advice. A particular complication of tooth extraction or wisdom tooth removal is a 'dry socket' infection. This is a very localised, but very painful condition which tends to start a few days after surgery - and can occur whether or not you've been prescribed antibiotics. It is advisable to seek an appointment for treatment if your pain increases suddenly or you get a nasty taste in the mouth.

If you have stitches, these will dissolve in a couple of weeks. If they are very irritating, it is possible to remove them for you after seven days.

Occasionally patients bleed after minor oral surgery - this is more likely if you are taking medicines to 'thin' your blood (like aspirin, clopidogrel and warfarin). If you taking blood thinning drugs, you will have had some stitches to reduce your risk of bleeding. If you do bleed, roll up a clean handkerchief or the gauze swabs you'll have been given to take home and either bite on this roll (if you've had a tooth out) or press on the area for twenty minutes. If the bleeding doesn't stop, please call for advice.