Post-operative instructions after minor dental surgery
The first 48 hours
- Immediately after extraction, clench the teeth on gauze placed at the surgical site for 30-60 minutes. If bleeding persists or recurs, fold a gauze or tea bag moistened with cold water and place it at the same site for a further 30 minutes.
- It is normal for the saliva to have a pinkish tinge in the first few days.
- Do not spit or drink through a straw so as not to create suction.
- Do not gargle the mouth for a minimum of 48 hours after the procedure. To rinse, put water in the mouth, shake the head and let the water fall out.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. This is crucial to promote good healing.
- See below about “Why you shouldn’t smoke after a tooth extraction”.
- Avoid eating too hot/spicy/acidic foods. Prefer soft, cold foods during this period and eat on the opposite side of the extraction site.
- Take medication as prescribed, ideally before the effects of the anaesthetic have worn off.
- Avoid strenuous physical activity.
- Apply ice to the area for 15 minutes every hour to control swelling.
- Resume brushing and flossing your teeth 24 hours after surgery.
After 48 hours
- From the third day onwards, rinse your mouth regularly with salt water or a mouthwash provided by your dentist. Keep your mouth as clean as possible to promote healing.
- Swelling and bruising may occur on the skin. This will gradually disappear over the next 7 days. Swelling will be at its worst after 48 to 72 hours.
- Stitches will disappear on their own within 4 to 7 days after surgery. Premature loss of stitches should not be a concern.
- Limited opening and slight pain in the joint is normal for the first 7 days after surgery.
We recommend not smoking for 48 to 72 hours after a dental extraction.
Smoking greatly slows down the healing process of the tooth socket, the site where your tooth was. The products in tobacco are toxic to the socket, an open wound in your mouth that will take months to heal completely. When you smoke, the blood vessels in your mouth constrict, reducing the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the cells at the extraction site, which need them to begin the healing process. In layman’s terms, it’s like suffocating and starving those cells that are working to heal you as quickly as possible from the trauma.
Another consequence of smoking after a tooth extraction is an increased risk of suffering from dry socket. Dry socket is an inflammation that occurs when the blood clot, which is the basis of the healing process at the extraction site, does not form properly, becomes dislodged or dissolves. A delay in healing and severe pain is therefore to be expected. This can lead to an infection of the extraction site, which will require antibiotics.
In short, smoking should be avoided after a dental extraction, in order to promote optimal healing and limit pain.