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Surgical Instructions

At Riverview Dental in Willimantic, CT we know that proper preparation and information is key to successful oral surgery and overall patient comfort. We like our patients to be prepared and to be comfortable asking any questions they may have. What follows is an introduction to surgical instructions you can review to decide if you have any questions you need to ask during your consultation.


True of nearly all surgical procedures, patients are likely to experience varying degrees of pain or discomfort as numbness and anesthetics wear off. Riverview Dental recommends that start taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication once you arrive home following your procedure. Examples of medications in this category include Advil, Ibuprofen, Motrin, and Aleve, and should be taken per the directions on the bottle (usually around 400mg every four to six hours). If you cannot take these or other anti-inflammatory medications, you should try Tylenol or acetaminophen as directed by the manufacturer. For more serious discomfort you may be prescribed a pain medication by your doctor.

Please keep in mind that all pain medications have the ability to cause severe side effects such as nausea and vomiting, and abdominal cramps and pain, so it is best to take any pain medication with food. Also, for them to be most effective, it is best to take pain medications before the pain becomes unbearable. Post surgical pain generally does not last longer than 24 to 72 hours, and may get worse that time. Most patients can expect to see relief on the fourth day after surgery.


Minor bleeding and/or oozing should be expected at the operative site. This is a natural part of the healing process and may continue throughout the first day. To help bleeding subside, keep firm pressure on the surgical site by biting down on a gauze sponge for thirty minute intervals. Once the bleeding has stopped and the oozing has lowed, avoid placing anything in the surgical area that might irritate the wound. To gently control oozing, try biting down on a moist tea bag wrapped in gauze.

Should you begin to bleed again at any point, gently rinse your mouth with cold water, and apply new gauze to the area, and apply direct pressure as before. If bleeding persists, please call our office and we will be happy to assist you.


The critical early stages of healing after oral surgery are most effective when care is taken to allow the affected tissue to rest. As such, one should avoid vigorous chewing, excessive spitting or rinsing, use of a straw or consuming very hot beverages during the first 24 hours after your procedure as these may delay healing, cause bleeding, or introduce infection.

It is best to avoid using a straw, and to not smoke entirely as both could dislodge a blood clot, cause bleeding to resume, and cause infection.
If your stitches appear to be coming out, do not worry. Sutures usually dissolve in five to seven days and do not require removal.


Patients should expect swelling to develop in the first twelve to twenty-four hours after surgery. Oftentimes the swelling peaks on the third post op day, and finally begins to subside by day four.

For the first 48 hours after surgery you can relieve the discomfort caused by swelling by applying an ice pack to the affected side for 30 minutes at a time. Wait another 30 minutes before again applying ice.

After 48 hours the swelling, soreness, and stiffness in the jaw can be relieved by applying a warm, moist towel to the affected side several times daily. Please wait 48 hours before using moist heat as, if applied earlier, it may impede healing.


Patients should limit physical activity, including bending over, for 24 to 48 hours after their surgical procedure. If you have had anesthesia or are taking pain medications you should not drive for 24 hours after surgery. When lying down it is best to keep your head elevated at 45 degrees on a pillow.


Fluid intake is critical post op. Riverview Dental suggests starting with clear liquids like water, ginger ale, 7-Up or Sprite. Avoid hot liquids until numbness, bleeding, or oozing have subsided. When tolerable, you may progress to other liquids and soft foods. Always be mindful not to irritate the surgical site. Soft, cool foods are generally easiest to tolerate. Those that require the least amount of chewing might be best.


Patients can start cleaning their mouth with a warm solution of ¼ teaspoon table salt to 1 cup of warm water 24 hours after surgery. Repeat three times daily for one week, being careful not to swish or spit too forcefully. You can carefully brush your teeth the first day after surgery provided you use care to avoid the surgical site.


Unless instructed otherwise by your doctor, continue to take all of your regular scheduled medications as prescribed. Patients taking blood thinners like Coumadin should restart those medications after surgery unless bleeding has not subsided.