male dentist performing oral surgery on young female patient

At Shores Family Dentistry in Fort Collins, we know that oral surgery can be a pain in the mouth! However, what you do to take care of your mouth post-operatively can make a big difference in how much pain you experience, and for how long. In fact, many dental patients do not have anywhere near the kind of pain they were anticipating in terms of duration or severity. Following these tips and any other post-operative care recommendations from your oral surgeon can make a huge difference in how little it hurts and how quickly you can get back to your normal routine. These tips are healthy for kids and for their parents too!

  • Rest

Get lots of rest following your surgery. Sometimes the anesthetics make us feel better than we really are immediately after surgery, which can lead to us “pushing it” too quickly. Surgery is a serious matter. You need to take it easy. The general recommendation is that you can probably return to regular activities after about 24 hours of rest, but save the strenuous activities for after you’ve recovered about a week.

  • Stay hydrated

Drink lots of water and fluids to keep yourself hydrated and your system happy. Your body is busy managing a lot of work around the surgical site and hydration is crucial for keeping that work going smoothly. Don’t use a straw, though: the suction might disturb the wound in your mouth. Additionally, stay away from carbonated beverages, as well as caffeinated and hot drinks for the first 24 hours following your surgery. These types of drinks may irritate the wound in your mouth.

  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco

Clearly, this one is directed towards parents. Oral surgery is a great time to quit smoking, as you should avoid alcohol and tobacco products for at least one week after your surgery. (If you ask your doctor or dentist, you should ideally avoid tobacco products for the rest of your life, if possible.) You may want to see your doctor about smoking cessation therapy before the surgery that is non-oral in delivery, such as a nicotine patch. And hey, once you’ve kicked it for a week, you might as well just stay away from it permanently, right?

  • Take pain medication as prescribed.

Take pain medication as your oral surgeon prescribes it. Most of the time NSAID medications and prescription pain medicines are given in dosages that will keep you “ahead of the pain” or make sure that you are not really feeling it for a few days after the surgery. This is helpful to give your body time to heal without being in anguish because of the amount of pain you may be experiencing. If you are not getting enough relief from the pain medication you have been given, contact your oral surgeon right away. 

  • Protect the surgical area

Try not to talk, eat, or drink for the first few hours after surgery. Also, don’t spit. This could cause irritation or damage to the surgical site. 

  • Use a cold compress

Cold is incredibly effective in assisting with dental pain. Use a cold compress on your face outside of where the surgical site is located to help ease inflammation and throbbing.

  • Eat a soft diet

Avoid hard or particularly gristly or chewy foods that might irritate the wound and possibly reopen it, increasing the chances of getting an infection. Try to stick to a soft diet for about a week following surgery.

  • Implement proper oral hygiene

Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush very carefully after your surgery. Avoid the wound entirely. Use a manual brush, not an electric one, and avoid rinsing your mouth for the first 24 hours to allow the wound time to heal. After that, it’s okay to rinse with warm salt water every few hours and after meals for the first week following your surgery.

Everyone takes their own time to heal from oral surgery, so try to be gentle with yourself and avoid “overdoing it”. Surgery is a pretty significant trauma to your body and your body will going through a lot to try to manage it, so practice a little patience and care with yourself and give yourself time to heal. Things like infections and dry sockets are generally avoidable if you follow your surgeon’s instructions and take good care of yourself. As always, if you have any questions or concerns following your surgery, contact your surgeon’s office right away.