Oral Surgery Post-Operative Care

After any oral surgery, there are a number of things you must do to stave off infection and avoid complications during healing.

This information is only intended as a guide and does not supersede any advice or instructions given to you by your dentist.

Eating and Drinking

Drink plenty of fluids during the recovery process to avoid dehydration.

Try to wait a few hours before eating and then only eat soft foods. Avoid hot or extreme cold foods. You can eat more or less as normal from the following day, although you should avoid hard foods. Naturally, eat and chew on the side of the mouth away from the treated area.

Depending on the surgery, you may need to avoid eating on that side for up to six weeks.

Post-Operative Bleeding

There may be some oozing of blood in the few hours following surgery. The dentist will cover or pad the wound or tooth socket with a gauze pad for your journey home to help staunch any bleeding. Keep applying pressure or biting on this gauze pad for a couple of hours afterwards. If bleeding reoccurs, replace with a new gauze pad and bite own for a further 10 -15 minutes. Repeat if necessary

While bleeding, keep your head raised and don’t lie back. If you lie down, always prop your head up with a pillow.

Don’t rinse your mouth until the following day after surgery as this may cause further bleeding. If you do have blood in your mouth, instead of rinsing, dribble it out into a tissue.

The bleeding should stop within a few hours. However, if the bleeding continues with no sign of stopping, call the dentist. If it is out of hours and the surgery is no longer open, you may need to visit the Outpatients section of your local hospital.

Post-Operative Swelling

If there is swelling or bruising on the face, neck or jaw, you can use an ice pack. If you do so, place the ice pack on for twenty minutes then off for twenty minutes, for up to eight hours.

The swelling may increase for the first couple of days but will eventually subside within a week.

There may also be some numbness to the lip, cheek, chin or nose areas. This may be related to the anaesthetic and should wear off, but it can linger for up to two weeks.

Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea is common after surgery and may be due to having swallowed some blood during the procedure. Drinking plenty of liquids will help, as will some light food.

If you do vomit, don’t worry. Wait for about half an hour before having something to drink and try to get back into a normal meal routine as soon as possible. If the nausea or vomiting continues, contact your doctor.

Warm Salt Water

To prevent infection of the wound, rinse your mouth clean regularly, starting the day after the surgery. Salt water is best for this — dissolve a level teaspoonful of salt in a glass of warm water and rinse it gently around the mouth for two minutes.

Don’t be vigorous and be careful not to spit too hard as this can also place pressure on the wound.

You can also use a commercial antiseptic mouthwash such as Savacol, Plax or Listerine.


You may be prescribed antibiotics to protect against infection. Take them only as directed and make sure you complete the entire course.

If you experience side effects from taking the antibiotics, consult your doctor or dentist.


Visit a dentist to get a professional post-operative treatment.

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