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Home Care Instructions After Oral or Maxillofacial Surgery

You have had oral or maxillofacial (MAX-iloh-FAY-shul) surgery. You may have had a routine tooth extraction, removal of wisdom teeth, surgery for bone reshaping or dental implants, or an intra-oral biopsy. Below are instructions to follow at home after your surgery.

  • Bite with light, steady pressure for one hour on the gauze placed in your mouth at the clinic.
  • Mild bleeding after oral surgery is normal. If you still have bleeding after three to four hours, raise your head higher than the rest of your body. Then bite with firm, steady pressure on a moist gauze pad or a wet tea bag for 20 minutes. If the bleeding does not stop, call your nurse or doctor.
  • Prop your head with several pillows when lying down or sleeping. This will help to reduce swelling and bleeding.
  • Swelling after surgery is common. Hold an ice pack on the outside of your face for 20 minutes, then remove it for 10 minutes. Repeat this procedure while awake for the first 24 hours. After 24 hours, stop using ice.
  • If you had a routine extraction of one or several teeth with very little bone smoothing, you may eat and drink. Eat as much solid food as you comfortably can. Avoid crunchy foods.
  • If you had more than 20 teeth removed or a lot of bone removal, follow a full liquid diet or a very soft diet for five to seven days.
  • If you had surgery to remove wisdom teeth, or if you have been sedated, take only clear liquids at first, and then soft foods, for the first 24 hours. After 24 hours, you may return to your normal diet as soon as you comfortably can.
  • If you had surgery for bone reshaping or dental implants or had an intra-oral biopsy, follow a full liquid diet or a very soft diet for five to seven days.
  • After 24 hours, begin to rinse your mouth frequently with salt water. Rinse four to five times a day, especially after eating. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a tall glass of warm tap water. Rinse with salt water for three days. Do not swallow the salt water.
  • Brush your teeth as you normally do. Be careful when brushing in the area where you had surgery.
  • Take your medication exactly as your doctor prescribes.
  • Do not smoke. It will take longer to heal if you do. Do not use chewing tobacco.
  • Do not use a straw. Sucking may cause bleeding.
  • Return for your postoperative visit as instructed by your doctor to have your stitches or dressings removed.

If you have any questions about these instructions or any concerns not listed here, call your nurse or doctor.

Numbers you should know

My doctor’s name________________________________________________________

Telephone number________________________________________________________


Telephone number________________________________________________________

Postoperative appointments must be scheduled through the department telephone number.

Post-Op Visit Day________________________________________________________

Time ________________________________________________________

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