Partial text content provided courtesy of the Canadian Dental Association

 Care After Minor Oral Surgery  (video)


If you have any of the following problems after oral surgery, call your dentist right away (you can go to hospital emergency if your dentist or any other dentist is not available):

DO's and DON'Ts

  • DO NOT smoke or drink alcohol for at least 48 hours, but preferably for 2 weeks.
  • DO NOT rinse your mouth or brush your teeth for 24 hours. 
  • DO NOT suck trough a straw for 24 hours. 
  • DO NOT eat hot solid foods or hot fluids for 24 hours.
  • DO NOT engage in strenuous activities (i.e. heavy lifting, working out, etc.) for 1 week.
  • DO eat soft foods for the first 24 hours.  Return to a normal diet after 24 hours. 
  • DO drink fluids anytime following the extraction.


  • Keep firm and constant pressure on the wound by putting a gauze pad over the area, and by closing your teeth firmly on the pad. Leave the pad in place for an hour, no matter how soggy it becomes.
  • If you are still bleeding after one hour, put a new gauze pad on the area and apply firm and constant pressure on the area for another hour.
  • Rest and keep your head raised. Rest slows down blood flow, which helps stop the bleeding.
  • Call your dentist if you are still bleeding a lot, and it has been four hours (or longer) since your surgery. Go to emergency if the dentist is not available.


Some pain is normal after the numbness wears off. You will have the most pain in the first 24 to 48 hours after your surgery. Some soreness or discomfort at the site of the surgery may last for three to five days. The amount of discomfort depends on the kind of surgery you have, how healthy you are in general and how active you are.  If you are up and about, you may feel more discomfort. It's best to rest. Your dentist may prescribe painkillers to dull the pain. He or she may also prescribe an antibiotic to help prevent infection.

  • Call your dentist if the pain does not get any better within 24 hours.
  • Follow the advice of your dentist and your pharmacist when taking medicines.
  • Do not take more medicine than advised.
  • Do not drink alcohol when taking painkillers.
  • Do not drive or use machines if you are taking narcotic painkillers (i.e. Tylenol #3, #4). Your dentist or pharmacist will tell you if your pain medicine is a narcotic or if it can cause undesirable side effects.


Your face may swell in the first 24 hours after oral surgery. The swelling may last for five to seven days. Once the swelling starts to go down, your face may bruise. The bruising could last for up to 10 days after your surgery.

  • On the first day after surgery, put a cold compress on the swollen area. To make a cold compress, wrap ice cubes in a towel, or use a bag of frozen vegetables such as peas.
  • Keep the cold compress there for 10 minutes. Take it off for 10 minutes, then put it back on for another 10 minutes. Repeat this procedure over and over again for the first 24 hours after surgery.
  • On the second day after surgery, put something warm on the swollen area, like a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel, or a heating pad wrapped in a towel. The warmth will increase blood flow (or circulation) and decrease swelling. Do not use anything hot enough to burn your skin.
  • DO not apply heat to the swollen area in the first 24 hours after surgery as it will only make the swelling worse.
  • Call your dentist or oral surgeon if the swelling keeps getting worse 48 hours after surgery, or if the swelling does not go down within seven days after surgery.

Sore jaw

After surgery, your jaw muscles may be sore and it may be hard to open your mouth for up to seven to 10 days. Your jaw muscles may have become stiff and sore from holding your mouth open during surgery.

  • If your jaw muscles are not too sore, massage them gently with a warm, moist facecloth.
  • Eat foods that are easy to chew such as eggs, pasta and bananas. Have drinks like milk shakes, milk and juices.
  • Call your dentist or oral surgeon if, after seven to 10 days, your jaw muscles are still tender or if your mouth is still hard to open.
  • Do not force your mouth open.
  • Do not chew gum or eat hard or chewy foods.
  • Do not have drinks like coffee and tea.

Most Common Complications

Dry socket

This the most common complication following tooth extractions; it delays the normal healing process and occurs when the newly formed blood clot in the extraction site does not form correctly or is prematurely lost.  The most common symptom of dry socket is intense pain on the extraction site and surrounding structures. 


There is no specific treatment for dry socket as it is a self limiting condition that will improve and resolve with time.  However, your dentist can help to control the pain by placing a sedative dressing in the wound and by prescribing painkillers.


Bony spicules

Occasionally, patients may feel a hard, bony bump with their tongue, sometimes weeks following an extraction.  This bump usually is not due to a tooth or lose bone fragment, but it represents the bony wall which supported the tooth and is now protruding through the gum. These bony projections occur most frequently in lower molar extraction areas, adjacent to the tongue, and they resolve (smooth out) spontaneously.  Contact you dentist for a followup examination of the extraction site.


Prolonged Numbness

Prolonged numbness of the lip, chin or tongue is usually temporary in nature.  Patients have to be careful not to bite the lips or tongue while numb because there will be a lack of sensation.  Contact your dentist for followup if you experience prolonged numbness after surgery.

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