Periodontics Post-Operative Care

Treatment of advanced disease in the gum and underlying structures of the jaw may involve surgical procedures that require time for the patient to recover and heal. The following information is only a guide and post-operative patients should follow professional instructions to the letter.

All time periods are indicative only and will vary based on each individual case, the nature of the surgery performed, medications prescribed and general health of the patient.

General post-operative care instructions may also apply.

What to Expect

Swelling, pain and discomfort may be experienced in the face and jaw, typically peaking following the first 48 hours and subsiding thereafter.

Slight bleeding is typically experienced for several hours. Follow the advice of the dental surgeon but a slightly damp gauze pad or clean handkerchief can be placed in the area with consistent pressure applied for up to 20 minutes.

A periodontal pack may be placed in the mouth. This will need to remain in place for up to a week and should only be removed by a dentist. If it is dislodged, notify the dental surgeon.

Stitches may be present and will be removed in the post-operative follow up. If sutures come loose or fall out prior to the post-operative follow up, advise the dental surgeon.


Patients will be medicated throughout the procedure and may still feel numb for up to several hours following surgery. Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat any active, present infection and prevent infection during the recovery process.

Pain Medication

If pain medication is prescribed, it should be taken according to instruction. Prescribed pain relief can be taken in windows of between 2.5-4 hours, starting as soon as the post-operative numbness begins to wear off.

It is not recommended the post-operative patient attempt to self-medicate using additional pain relief. Some, including aspirin based products, can increase bleeding in the treated area.

Some pain medications can cause drowsiness. Refer to the prescription and avoid driving during the immediate recovery period.

Ice packs may also be indicated to aid the reduction of swelling but should only be applied for 20 minute periods at a time and never be applied directly to the skin.


Antibiotics are prescribed to treat any active infection and to prevent infection from forming. If prescribed, it is essential the full course of antibiotics be taken as directed and the full course completed.

Rinsing and Cleaning

Teeth cannot be brushed for up to a week following periodontal surgery so a regular rinsing routine is a vital part of the post-operative care plan.

However, vigorous rinsing, spitting and drinking through straws should be avoided for up to 3 days following surgery as this may stimulate bleeding by disturbing blood clot formation.

After a few hours post-surgery, rinsing with a lukewarm salt water solution should commence. This should be done several times a day and completed routinely after eating, before going to sleep and after rising in the morning.

After a full week post-surgery, brushing of teeth can resume but the surgical area should be avoided. A damped piece of cotton or soft cloth can be used to clean the gums and lower part of the teeth in the surgical area. Flossing and regular brushing can typically be resumed after 3 weeks.

Rest and Relaxation

It is advisable to maintain a quiet profile for at least the first 5 days following surgery, even for patients that recover quickly.

It may be advisable to avoid exercise for up to 2-3 weeks in order to avoid raising blood pressure, as an elevated pulse may continue to cause pain in the surgical sites.

Avoid pulling back at the lips and cheeks in order to inspect the surgical site and this can stimulate bleeding and interfere with the healing process.

Eating and Drinking

Post-operative patients should avoid very hot or cold food and beverage in the week following the procedure.

Avoid eating on the site of the surgery for at least 7 days and steer away from hard, brittle, crunchy and acidic food stuffs.

Drink plenty of fluid.


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