What you need to know after dental surgery
Please note this is a comprehensive list of complications that could possibly occur. It does not mean you will necessarily have all or any of the complications discussed. This information serves as a guideline – should you encounter any complications.
Pain and Swelling:
- The amount of discomfort experienced after surgery varies from patient to patient.
- The regular use of the analgesics (pain killers) prescribed should minimise any discomfort after the procedure.
- Ice packs from chemists (or ice/frozen vegetables wrapped in a dish towel) can be held over the area operated upon (from outside the mouth) for 20-30 minute intervals totalling not more than one hour during the first 24 hours to minimise swelling.
- If you do however experience significant pain or worsening pain – please contact the practice immediately.
- Oozing from the site where surgery was performed is normal. This oozing may appear to look excessive as it mixes with your saliva – but this is normal and may persist for a day or two. If you are using anticoagulants such as Ecotrin or Warfarin, oozing will persist for longer.
- Smoking cause suction onto the wounds and will start the bleeding again. Do not smoke.
- Moistened gauze can be used to bite on for 20 minutes to apply pressure to the wound – this will assist in controlling the bleeding.
- Avoid rinsing the mouth often as it will make bleeding worse and slow healing down. DO NOT rinse with a salt water rinse. Use Curacept or Corsodyl for GENTLE rinsing from the day after surgery. The contact time with the wound must be one minute.
- Do not drink with a straw as it creates suction and will start bleeding again or disturb the wound.
- Avoid hot food and drinks for the first 48 hours.
- If you experience excessive or persistent bleeding please contact the practice immediately.
- Post-operative infections are rare (about 5% for non-smokers and up to 10% for smokers). Healing potential and risk of infections differ between patients and cannot be predicted. Known risk factors for post-operative infections are smoking, compromised immunity, Diabetes, Vitamin D deficiency, Vitamin B12 deficiency, Iron deficiencies, high cholesterol, Anemia, kidney disease, poor oral hygiene and disturbance of the wound (by movement, eg constant licking or eating hard food).
- All precautions are taken to prevent infections, but if you are unfortunate enough to develop an infection, the procedure could be a partial or complete failure. This is obviously serious and disheartening. We would do our utmost to prevent and manage such situations. Unfortunately a part or all of the treatment might need to be redone if you develop an infection.
- If your pain gradually worsens after surgery, if the wound starts to smell, if you develop a strange taste in your mouth or if you start to develop a fever or swollen glands please contact the practice so we can inspect the surgical site as a matter of urgency.
- Do not push with your tongue onto the treated areas. It will cause complications.
- If little covers placed on implants feel loose or fall off please do not leave this as it will cause complications. Contact us immediately.
Numbness of the lower lip:
- In the lower jaw especially, surgery is often performed very close to the main nerve supplying the lower teeth and lower lip.
- The swelling from the surgery can lead to an altered sensation or numbness of the lower lip.
- If this numbness continues or if the injection does not wear-off – please contact the practice immediately.
- If the numbness wears off, but later starts to return again, please inform us.
- It is advisable not to smoke before or after ANY surgical procedure. Smoking reduces the blood supply to the surgical site and therefore it inhibits the healing process. Potential complications are reduced if you could refrain from smoking one week before surgery and 2 weeks after surgery. Blood supply to the tissues and healing potential is increased if you stop smoking. Smoking delays wound healing and can cause infection. It can also affect the short and long-term success of the treatment. The suction created by smoking can start bleeding and disturb the wound causing complications. Smoking alone reduces the immune response and is poisonous to the cells that stimulate healing. The practice will not be held responsible for failures under these conditions but we are always there to help. To quit smoking is no joke and we have huge sympathy and empathy and will still do our best for you. Talk to us if you want us to try and help you to quit.
- Anti-inflammatory and pain medication, such as Myprodol, Ibuprofen, Celebrex, Tramacet or Stillpaine can be used after a surgical procedure – this will reduce the amount of swelling, bruising and pain that may be experienced.
- Take the anti-inflammatories and painkillers as prescribed.
- For example if Myprodol was prescribed – Take 2 Myprodol after the procedure and continue every 4-6 hours thereafter.
- Take the anti-inflammatory medication regularly as prescribed. Do not wait for the pain to start before taking the medication – as the pain will be more difficult to control once it has started.
- Antibiotics will also be prescribed – take medication according to the prescription and complete the course.
- Please contact the practice if you experience any problems with the medications you were prescribed.
Rinsing the mouth:
- Mouth rinse (Curasept or Corsodyl) should only be used after surgery if instructed to do so.
- Start rinsing the day after the surgery (24 hours) – rinse GENTLY morning and evening, keeping the mouth rinse in the mouth for a full minute.
- Do not eat or brush for at least 30 minutes after using the mouth rinse.
- Do not dilute the mouth rinse.
- Do NOT rinse with salt water or anything else unless verified by us
Recently we are using less and less mouthwashes as it slows healing down due to overzealous use.
- Do not brush or floss the gum area where the surgery was performed for at least 7 days or until you see us to remove the sutures.
- The rest of your mouth must be brushed and flossed as normal.
- Avoid hot food for the first 2 post-operative days.
- You should have a soft diet for the first week. You can have any food as long as it is soft (e.g. eggs, fish, pasta, or mashed/ blended food and cooked stews etc). Do not eat hard raw vegetables, Muesli, toast or nuts. Unfortunately very few patients actually lose weight.
When surgery goes as planned, without complications, you will obviously be a happy patient. Unfortunately when complications arise you will be unhappy. This is understandable. Please understand that we do not wish complications on any patient and that surgery performed will be done at the highest possible standard. Please work with us and give us the trust to manage and rectify you complication.
If you haven’t yet, please also read our “What you need to know before dental surgery”.