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Enhanced Dental Surgery Recovery

Learn how to manage pain and optimize healing after oral surgery. Follow post-op instructions for a smooth recovery and better oral hygiene.
A patient learning how to recover quickly after a dental surgery.

Dental surgery may include a number of different procedures for the mouth, teeth, gums, and jaw. There are many types of oral surgeries. The most common is wisdom tooth extraction.

After oral surgery, you will need to recover. By following all the post-operative instructions, you will optimize the healing process and prevent complications like infection.

How to Treat Pain After Oral Surgery

The most pressing issue after oral surgery is pain management. The two main methods to alleviate pain after oral surgery are ice application and pain medication.

The Recovery Period After Dental Surgery

Instructions for recovery from oral surgery occur in stages. The healing process usually follows like this:

The First 24 Hours

Your oral surgeon will likely ask you to rest for the first 24 hours after surgery. You will not be able to go to work or school or engage in physical activity. You will likely start a course of antibiotics to prevent infection. As the anesthetic wears off, you should avoid hot foods and drinks that may inadvertently burn your mouth.

Bleeding

Slight bleeding is normal after a tooth extraction for up to 24 hours after surgery. Your surgeon may recommend biting down with firm pressure on a piece of damp sterile gauze for 30 minutes to one hour to ease the bleeding.

Swelling

Swelling is a normal response after oral surgery. You can reduce swelling by keeping your head elevated with two to three pillows when resting and sleeping. Ice packs also reduce swelling and inflammation.

Two to Three Days

You may be able to resume normal activities on days 2 and 3 after oral surgery. However, heavy exertion may dislodge blood clots and delay healing.

Seven to 10 Days

Swelling is usually gone by day seven to 10 after oral surgery. You may still see some slight bruising, especially if your lower wisdom teeth were removed. You will usually finish taking antibiotics by day 7 or 10.

At Two Weeks

Most oral and maxillofacial surgeons will recommend a follow-up appointment after 2 weeks. Your surgeon will evaluate your wound to see how it is healing.

How to Maintain Oral Hygiene After Dental Surgery

To maintain oral hygiene during your recovery, you will need to brush your teeth with warm water and not toothpaste. You should then gently rinse with a saline or saltwater solution. This will help keep the surgical site clean and aid in the healing process.

Be careful not to spit out the warm salt water. Instead, allow it to simply fall out of your mouth.

Your oral surgeon will likely allow you to resume normal brushing by day three or four. However, avoid vigorous rinsing or spitting, as this can increase bleeding.

What Foods Can I Eat After Dental Surgery?

Your oral surgeon will likely tell you to drink cold liquids and eat soft foods for the first day or two after oral surgery.

After a couple of days, you may be allowed to eat warm, soft foods such as mashed potatoes, soups, and broth. You should avoid chewy, hard, or crunchy foods for at least a week. These foods are likely to irritate the tooth extraction site.

You may also be advised not to use a straw for at least a week after oral surgery. This may dislodge the blood clot that is protecting the wound in your mouth.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Surgery

Below are some of the most commonly asked dental surgery and recovery questions.

How Long Can I Expect Stitches to Remain in Mouth?

The exact timing will vary from person to person and will also be dependent on the type of stitches you received. You can often expect your stitches to dissolve or fall out on their own within two to seven days. There are also some stitches that may take two or more weeks to dissolve. As such, it is best to speak with your dental professional about what you can expect.

How Long Is the Recovery Period?

This will depend on the oral surgery you’ve just had. For example, wisdom teeth extractions will usually have a shorter recovery time than a procedure such as dental implants. Variances will also be seen from person to person.