After surgery care

After Surgery Care Information

After Surgery (post-operative) care is very important after wisdom tooth removal.

Unnecessary pain and the complications of infection and swelling can be minimised if the instructions are followed carefully.

Immediately Following Surgery

  • If a gauze pad was placed over the surgical area, it should be kept in place for half an hour.
  • Avoid vigorous mouth rinsing or touching the wound area. This may dislodge the blood clot and lead to bleeding.
  • Take the prescribed pain medications, as instructed, as soon as you begin to feel discomfort.
  • Restrict strenuous activities for at least three days after surgery. You can slowly resume normal activity when you feel comfortable- if it hurts, avoid the exercise.
  • Place ice packs on the sides of your face to minimise swelling. Do not put ice directly on the face but wrap in a tea towel or use an ice pack designed to be in contact with the skin.
  • You can brush your teeth the night of surgery but avoid brushing the gums where the surgery occurred.
  • The evening of surgery, rinse gently with either the recommended Chlorhexidine mouth rinse (Savacol or Curasept) or rinse with warm salty water (one teaspoon of salt dissolved in a glass of water). The day after surgery you should begin rinsing with the prescribed mouth wash 4-6 times a day, especially after eating.
Alcohol and Smoking

Please avoid smoking for 2 weeks after surgery, it is a known independent risk factor for dry socket and increasing the risk of infection. Please avoid using alcohol for two days after surgery as it can interfere with healing and promote bleeding.


A certain amount of bleeding is to be expected following surgery. Slight bleeding, oozing, or redness in the saliva is not uncommon.

To minimise bleeding sit upright and avoid exercise. Excessive bleeding may be controlled by placing a gauze pad or clean cloth over the area and biting firmly for thirty minutes, repeating once if necessary. If bleeding does not subside, call our rooms or Dr Tuckett for further .


Swelling around the mouth, cheeks, eyes and sides of the face is common after surgery. This is the body’s normal reaction to surgery and promotes healing. Swelling will not reach its maximum until 2-3 days post-operatively.

To minimise swelling, use ice packs immediately after surgery. These should be left on continuously while you are awake. After 36 hours the ice has limited beneficial effect. It is not unusual to have swelling and/or jaw stiffness for 3-5 days after surgery, there is no cause for alarm. Thirty-six hours following surgery, the application of heat packs to the sides of the face can help reduce the size of the swelling.


In some cases, discolouration and bruising of the skin follows swelling. This is a normal post-operative occurrence, which may occur 2-3 days after surgery. It can be more pronounced if you required extensive surgery and in older patients.  Moist heat applied to the area may speed up the removal of the discolouration.

Nausea and Vomiting

In the event of nausea and/or vomiting following surgery, do not take anything by mouth for at least an hour including the prescribed medicine. You should then sip on water (not through a straw but small mouthfuls). You should sip slowly over a fifteen-minute period. When the nausea subsides, you can begin taking solid foods and the prescribed medicine. If the nausea continues please call our rooms or after-hours Dr Tuckett directly.


Regular Paracetamol 1 gram four times a day + Ibuprofen 400 milligrams three times a day (if not contraindicated) is key to pain control. If you have been prescribed Panadeine forte do not take Panadol at the same time so as not to take too much Panadol.

  • For more severe pain, take the tablets prescribed as directed. The prescribed pain medicine will make you groggy and will slow down your reflexes. Do not drive an automobile or work around or with machinery. Pain or discomfort following surgery should subside more and more every day. If pain persists, it may require attention, please contact our rooms or after hours Dr Tuckett directly.

After general anaesthetic or sedation, only liquids should be initially taken for the first few hours until you are fully awake and not nauseated. Do not use a straw as the sucking motion can cause more bleeding by dislodging the blood clot. A soft diet is recommended, and you should chew away from the surgical sites. Suggestions include – scrambled eggs, soup, pasta, custard, mashed potato, ice cream, jelly, smoothies. Prevent dehydration by taking fluids regularly, at least 5-6 glasses of liquid should be taken daily. You will feel better, have more strength, less discomfort and heal faster if you continue to eat.


The current evidence indicates most patients do not require antibiotics after surgery e.g wisdom tooth extraction. If you had a general anaesthetic you most likely had some antibiotics during the procedure. If you have been prescribed antibiotics, take the tablets or liquid as directed. Antibiotics will be given to help treat or prevent infection, usually in complex or already infected cases.  Discontinue antibiotic use in the event of a rash or other unfavourable reaction. Please call our rooms or after hours Dr Tuckett directly if you have any questions.


Dissolvable sutures are placed in the area of surgery to minimise post-operative bleeding and discomfort while also helping healing. Some sutures may cause a ‘pulling’ feeling which can be uncomfortable, this resolves when the suture dissolves. Sometimes they become dislodged, this is no cause for alarm. Just remove the suture from your mouth and discard it. The sutures will dissolve approximately seven to ten days after surgery.

Other common post-operative issues:

  • If numbness of the lip, chin, or tongue occurs there is usually no cause for alarm, this is usually temporary in nature. Be careful chewing or drinking hot drinks because if your lip or tongue is numb, you could burn/bite it and not feel the sensation. If you lip or tongue is still numb twenty-four hours after surgery please contact our rooms as Dr Tuckett will need to assess you.
  • Stiffness of the jaw muscles or reduced mouth opening (Trismus) is expected for a few days following surgery. This is a normal event after surgery which will resolve in time. If it is getting worse after 4 days please contact our rooms.
  • The corners of your mouth are often stretched slightly during surgery. Despite our best efforts and the application of lip balm during surgery, they may dry out and crack. Your lips should be kept moist with an ointment such as Vaseline or Paw Paw ointment.
  • Sore throats and discomfort when swallowing is common after a general anaesthetic and is often related to the breathing tube inserted by the anaesthetist. We use a specific type of soft anaesthetic tube to minimise this. This will usually subside in 2-3 days.
Further concerns or questions

If you have any unusual symptoms or you have questions or concerns please contact the rooms for instructions on (07) 3308 9312.