Tips for Your
If you recently scheduled oral surgery at Northeast Arkansas Center for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, you should have all the information for your care.
Here is some important information that will help you deal with your postoperative phase.
Mild post-surgical bleeding and oozing are to be expected after any oral surgery so we place a gauze pack over the surgical area. You can bite on this gauze forcefully to minimize the bleeding.
Biting firmly on a gauze pack in the surgical area is the most effective way to stop the bleeding. Change your gauze within 45 minutes to 1 hour of the bleeding.
Repeat the process if the bleeding doesn't subside. However, you don't need to repack if there is only slight oozing. After your surgery, remember to:
- Keep your head elevated at a 45-degree angle for 24 to 48 hours after the surgery
- Avoid any spitting as it disturbs the blood clot and leads to additional bleeding
- Use a Kleenex to gently remove any bleeding that's not totally absorbed by the gauze
- Avoid actively rinsing your mouth for the next 24 hours
- Brush your teeth gently within 24 hours of your surgery
It’s essential to know your diet after surgery. There aren’t any specific restrictions on diet, but you should eat foods that can be easily chewed and swallowed for your comfort during the first 24 hours.
You should keep up your fluid intake and avoid milk products for 24 hours after surgery. Water is always the best option. Aim to drink about 8 to 10, 8 oz. glasses of liquid every 24 hours.
Avoid solid foods and drinking through a straw for the first 24 hours. There are certain oral surgical procedures that require specialized instructions. In these cases, we will explain the details to you before you get discharged.
A dry socket, or alveolar osteitis, is a post-surgical condition where the protective blood clot disappears, usually within 3 or 4 days after your surgery.
Dry sockets are identified by the sudden increase in pain in about 3 to 4 days after surgery when you’re starting to feel better. There are no symptoms of a dry socket so it’s impossible to predict or prevent.
You can treat dry sockets by placing a cotton ball soaked with Oragel in the socket. If you think you might have developed a dry socket, contact our Jonesboro office and our team will attend to you immediately.
Some oral surgical procedures can cause temporary damage to sinus structures. In these cases, we may prescribe certain antibiotics. It's essential that you inform our team if you are allergic to any medications.
There are a few antibiotics that interfere with the action of birth control pills. If you are taking birth control, please inform our team before your procedure.
Postoperative infection in the oral region is characterized by:
- The elevated temperature of the skin over the swollen area
- Redness of the skin over the swollen area
If we take an oral temperature, there are chances of getting a false reading after oral surgery. We use axillary temperature readings instead of oral ones to get the best reading.
If you have a temperature, you can treat it by taking two Tylenol every three to four hours with plenty of fluids. Avoid taking aspirin after surgery.
We usually administer a potent anti-nausea drug intravenously during the sedation. However, you may experience post-surgical nausea during the first 24 hours after surgery.
Here are some tips to handle postoperative nausea:
- Don't lie flat to avoid swallowing any blood
- Elevate your head by 30 to 45 degrees
- Change your gauze as directed by Dr. McDonough or Dr. Phillips
Swallowing even a small amount of blood on an empty stomach can make you feel nauseated. If this happens, we recommend taking an anti-nausea medicine immediately because it won't be effective if you start throwing up.
Please keep in mind that you should not take any pain medication on an empty stomach. You might not feel like eating solid foods for 24 hours following surgery. Start with small sips of 7-Up, tea, or coke. After 24 hours, you can go ahead with a soft diet if you feel ready.
Once you get through the first 24 hours after surgery, the next step is to stay on top of your oral hygiene. Start by gently rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater, mouthwash, hydrogen peroxide, or baking soda.
After 24 hours, you may brush and rinse as normal, but remember to be gentle on the surgical areas if they are sore. Avoid spitting or drinking through a straw as it might result in dislodging the blood clot and interrupting the healing process.
After surgery, your doctor will numb the operation site to help ease your pain. Numbness usually wears off within five hours so we recommend starting your pain medication before that happens.
We recommend that you take a full dose of pain medicine once you get home. Repeat the prescribed dose of medication every 3 to 4 hours on the day of your surgery and at night even if you're not experiencing severe pain.
Be sure to take enough pain medicine to stay comfortable while you’re healing. Tylenol is a great pain reliever; strictly avoid taking aspirin after surgery.
You may have some swelling for a few days post-surgery, but it will go away. Place an ice pack on the operation site on and off for 15 to 20 minutes on the first day of your surgery to help reduce your swelling.
Continue using an ice pack for 24 hours. Sleep with your head raised using pillows for 24 to 48 hours after surgery. Typical swelling follows a characteristic pattern, where it increases over three days and then slowly subsides. If that's not the case, give us a call.
No matter how major or minor your surgery is, your body needs time to recover. Take a minimum of 24 hours before you get back to work or school. It will help reduce the swelling of the surgical area and give time for the formation of a normal clot.
We'll be glad to provide you with an excuse for work or school.
- You might experience a sore throat or numbness in the chin or lips after you have wisdom tooth surgery. Don't panic, this is completely normal. If the condition persists for more than 2 to 3 days, get in touch with us for more help.
- Secondary bruises may begin to occur 2 to 3 days after oral surgery and they may last for 2 to 3 weeks.
- Your wisdom tooth removal or any dental extraction procedure leaves a hole in your gums that can become an irritating food trap. In these cases, contact us for a plastic syringe to flush out food and other particles from the open area.
- We use absorbable sutures that don’t need to be removed after surgery. In the case of non-absorbable sutures, we'll give you a return appointment for their removal. The sutures are designed to start coming out within 48 hours so don’t panic if you notice them.
- You might experience a little shakiness or a change in bowel habits post-surgery. Don't worry - this is caused by the anesthesia and disappears in 6 to 12 hours.
- Avoid removing dentures for 24 hours after your placement appointment. Contact your dentist so that they can recommend the best time to do so, usually two to four days after placement.
- IV sedation can cause tenderness, discoloration, hardening of the vein at the injection site, or difficulty in opening your mouth due to tightness in facial muscles. Keep the area warm and moist for 15 minutes, 3 times a day till the hardness subsides.
- Don't panic if your permanent sutures look white in color the first week after surgery. This happens when food particles get stuck to the sutures and is nothing to worry about.
- Facial swelling after oral surgery is normal. It will eventually subside, leaving a small hard knot. The knot might take about 6 weeks to dissolve completely. Remember that the duration may vary from a day or two to two weeks.
- As an adult, a wisdom tooth removal might leave you with a sore jaw for about three weeks. This is normal and nothing to worry about. You can take Tylenol to help relieve the soreness.
If you experience anything unusual or have any questions following your surgery, our team is always here to help. Here are some examples of postoperative emergencies that require a call to our Jonesboro office:
- Acute breathing difficulties
- Acute and symptomatic drug allergies like rash and shortness of breath
- Sudden acute swelling
- Sudden and symptomatic cardiac changes (abnormal rhythms)
- Sudden and uncontrollable oral bleeding
Other unusual postoperative symptoms that are not treated as an emergency include:
- Slight temperature increase (oral)
- Changes in bowel habits
- Gradual increase in swelling
- Queries concerning normal recovery
- Changing prescriptions
Our team is here after-hours if you experience an emergency. For other symptoms, questions, or concerns, call our office during business hours and our team will help you get the answers you need.