After Exposure of an Impacted Tooth

POSTOPERATIVE CARE OF THE MOUTH AFTER Exposure of an impacted tooth

The proper care following oral surgical procedures will hasten recovery and prevent complications.

  1. Bed rest the day of surgery is advised, particularly if intravenous medications were used. You cannot drive or engage in any activity that requires hand and eye coordination, or that could result in injury, for twenty-four (24) hours following surgery after sedation or general anesthesia. 
  2. Gauze has been placed over the surgical site, and it should be kept in place for about one (1) hour after the surgery is completed.  Some bleeding is normal and is to be expected.  You will normally experience a slight oozing of blood, which may color the saliva pink or red for 24 to 36 hours.  If persistent bleeding occurs, place gauze (a moistened tea bag also works well) over bleeding area and bite down firmly for one (1) hour.  Gauze must be removed when you go to sleep, and also to take medications and liquids/foods.  Repeat these steps if necessary, and please call our office if active, brisk bleeding continues.
  3. Begin your prescribed anti-inflammatory medication (Motrin/Ibuprofen – if given) after you have had something to eat, but before the numbness from the local anesthesia wears off (usually 2-4 hours after surgery, although some long lasting anesthesia can last 6-10 hours). Narcotic pain medications should be taken regularly at the prescribed times only if you are having pain; usually at four (4) to six (6) hour intervals the day of surgery.  For mild to average pain, you may use any Tylenol or non-aspirin type medication you like, as long as you are not also taking a narcotic that has Tylenol in it.
  4. Tooth brushing should be started 24 hours after surgery. This is especially important after meals. Do not brush directly over the surgical site. 
  5. We strongly advise against smoking for at least 7 days following surgery, as you will greatly increase your chances of postoperative infection, dry socket, and significant pain as well as delayed healing.
  6. The ice packs and head wrap you received in our office (or your own chopped ice pack wrapped in a towel) should be applied to the face in twenty (20) minute intervals (20 minutes on, followed by 20 minutes off) at the site of surgery after the procedure on the first day. Continuing applying ice at twenty (20) minute intervals on the second day also, for at least half the day. If swelling or bruising occurs, moist heat may be applied to the affected area beginning seventy-two (72) hours after surgery.
  7. Liquids and soft diet are advisable during the first twenty-four (24) hours following surgery. Begin your normal diet as soon as possible. However, avoid any fried or crunchy food until the area has healed completely.
  8. If sutures are placed, they are usually ones that will dissolve on their own. There is no need to replace these sutures should they come out even on the first day.
  9. Warm salt water rinses should be started 4 days after surgery (one-quarter (1/4) teaspoon of salt may be added to a glass of warm water). If you were given an irrigating syringe, start rinsing impacted food from the lower extraction sites only after 4 days. DROP IRRIGATING HERE – ONLY FOR EXT’S/3RDS.
  10. You will need a post-operative appointment approximately one (1) week following surgery. Please call the office (699-5900) to set up this appointment, if it has not already been scheduled.



  1. If you are on birth control pills, it is important that you understand that you are at risk for pregnancy while on antibiotics due to drug interactions. Alternate methods of birth control are necessary.
  2. If numbness of the lip, chin, or tongue occurs, there is no cause for alarm. As reviewed in your consultation, this is usually temporary in nature. You should be aware that if your lip and/or tongue are numb, you could bite or burn them and cause an injury without feeling the sensation. For this reason, we suggest that you take caution when chewing, and avoid very hot foot/drink items until the numbness has worn off. Please call Dr. Dootson, Dr. Clary, Dr. Tucker, or Dr. Strider if you have any questions or concerns.
  3. Slight elevation of temperature immediately following surgery is not uncommon. If the temperature persists, please notify the office. Tylenol or Ibuprofen should be taken to reduce the fever.
  4. You should be careful when moving from the lying down position to a standing position. You could get light headed from low blood sugar, or from medications. After lying down, you should sit for one minute before standing up.
  5. Occasionally patients may feel hard projections in the mouth with their tongue. These are not tooth roots; they are bony walls which supported the tooth. These bony projections usually smooth out spontaneously. If not, they can be removed by Dr. Dootson, Dr. Clary, Dr. Tucker or Dr. Strider.
  6. If the corners of your mouth are stretched, they may dry out and crack. Your lips should be kept moist with an ointment such as Vaseline.
  7. Sore throats and pain when swallowing are not uncommon. The muscles may be swollen, which can make the normal act of swallowing become painful. This will subside in 2-3 days.
  8. Stiffness (Trismus) of the jaw muscles may cause difficulty in opening your mouth for a few days following surgery. This is a normal post-operative event which will resolve in time.