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Post-Operative Instructions

Dr. Tolley holding a cotton swab in tweezers to be used after the surgery at Oral and Facial Surgery Center

Post-Operative Instructions: Following Oral Surgery:

Care of your mouth after surgery has an important effect on healing. Swelling, discomfort, and restricted jaw function are expected and should not cause alarm. These may be minimized by following the instructions below. Please read them carefully. It is strongly urged that they be followed.

Click here to download a printable PDF version of these Post-Op instructions.

Immediately Following Surgery:

The medication or sedation which was used to calm you will be acting in your body for the next 24 hours, so you might feel a little sleepy. This feeling will slowly wear off. Because the medicine or sedation is still in your system, for the next 24 hours, the adult patient:

SHOULD NOT- Drive a car, operate machinery or power tools.
SHOULD NOT- Drink any alcoholic beverages, including beer.
SHOULD NOT- Make any important decisions (such as sign important papers).

For the first hour bite down gently but firmly on the gauze packs that have been placed over the surgical areas, making sure they remain in place. Change them every 15 minutes, for about an hour or until the bleeding stops. They may be gently removed when the bleeding stops.

Surgical Area Care:

Do not disturb the surgical area today. Do NOT rinse your mouth or probe the surgical area with any objects. You may brush your teeth gently. PLEASE DO NOT SMOKE for at least 72 hours, since this is very detrimental to healing and may cause a dry socket.


Unfortunately most oral surgery is accompanied by some degree of discomfort. A prescription for pain will be given to you. This should be taken as directed on the label. If you take the first dose before the anesthetic has worn off, you should be able to manage your pain better. If this pain medication does not manage your pain, please notify our office. You have also been given an ice pack that may be placed on the site for the next 24 hours. Some patients find that the pain medication may cause some nausea; this can be avoided by eating a small amount of food prior to taking pain medication. It will also help to keep your head elevated.

If you do not achieve adequate pain relief at first, you may supplement each pain pill with an analgesic such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Some patients may even require two of the pain pills at one time. Remember that the most severe pain is usually within six hours after the anesthetic wears off, after that your need for medication should lessen.

If you find you are taking large amounts of pain medication at frequent intervals, please call our office. If you anticipate needing pain medication for the weekend, you must call for refill during WEEKDAY BUSINESS HOURS ONLY.


Intermittent bleeding or oozing overnight is normal. Bleeding may be controlled by placing a fresh gauze over the areas and biting down on the gauze for 30-45 minutes at a time.


Bleeding should never be severe. If so, it usually means that the packs are being clenched between teeth only and are not exerting pressure on the surgical sites. Try repositioning the packs. If bleeding persists or becomes heavy you may substitute a tea bag (soaked in hot water for 3 minutes then dipped in cold water for 1 minute, squeezed damp-dry, and wrapped in moistened gauze) for about 20-30 minutes. If bleeding remains uncontrolled please call our office.


Swelling is often associated with oral surgery. It can be minimized by using an ice pack, or a frozen bag of peas wrapped in a towel and applied firmly to the cheek adjacent to the surgical area. This should be applied 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off during the first 24 hours after surgery only.

Sharp Edges

If you feel sharp edges or something hard in the surgical areas, it is likely you are feeling the bony walls which once supported the extracted teeth. Occasionally, small slivers of bone may work themselves out during the following week or so. If they cause concern or discomfort, please call the office.


We have seen the most optimum results from patients who have been able to stay on a cool, smooth diet of liquids as long as possible. Although we realize this may seem impractical, we ask that you do this for at least 72 hours. Then you may progress to a soft diet (macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes, pastas, soups, etc.) Do not use a straw for 72 hours after your surgery. EXAMPLES of LIQUIDS INCLUDE: Smoothies, milkshakes, puddings, yogurt, ice-cream, applesauce, jello, and broths (that are room temperature).

Foods To Avoid For 2-3 Weeks:

After general anesthetic or intravenous sedation, liquids should be initially taken. Do not use straws. Drink from a glass. The sucking motion can cause more bleeding by dislodging the blood clot. You may eat anything soft by chewing away from the surgical sites. Due to the risk of food impaction, avoid foods such as sesame seeds, strawberries, popcorn, peanuts, and chips for two to three weeks to give ample time for the extraction site(s) to completely heal.
Your food intake will be limited for the first few days. You should compensate for this by increasing your fluid intake. At least 5-6 glasses of liquid should be taken daily. Try not to miss a single meal. You will feel better, have more strength, less discomfort and heal faster if you continue to eat. Caution: If you suddenly sit up or stand from a lying position you may become dizzy. If you are lying down following surgery, make sure you sit for one minute before standing.

Activity Level:

We strongly suggest you have a responsible adult with you for the rest of today and also during the night for your protection and safety. Please rest for the next 24 hours. Slowly increase your activity level as tolerated.

Woman smiling while brushing her teeth after 3 days of her surgery at Oral and Facial Surgery Center

2nd and 3rd Day Following Surgery:

Mouth Rinses:

Keeping your mouth clean after surgery is essential. Use 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt dissolved in an 8 ounce glass of water and gently rinse with portions of the solution, taking five minutes to use the entire glassful. Repeat as often as you like, but at least two or three times daily.


Begin your normal oral hygiene routine as soon as possible after surgery. Soreness and swelling may not permit vigorous brushing, but please make every effort to clean your mouth within the bounds of comfort.

Hot Applications:

You may apply warm compresses to the skin over the areas of swelling (hot water bottle, heating pad, or hot moist towels) for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off to help soothe tender areas. This will also help decrease swelling and stiffness.


Normal healing after extractions should be as follows: The first two days after surgery are generally the most uncomfortable and there is usually some swelling and bruising. On the third day you will have the most swelling and it should start to decrease from that day on. On the fourth day you should be more comfortable and although still swollen can usually begin a more substantial diet. The remainder of the post-op course should be a gradual, steady improvement. If you do not see a continued improvement please call our office.

It is our desire that your recovery be as smooth and pleasant as possible. Following these instructions will assist you, but if you have a question about your progress, please call the office at (850) 386-4602.


Post-Op Visit:

If you have been given a follow-up appointment for post-operative care, please return to the office as scheduled. If you are experiencing problems or have questions, we can usually arrange a post-operative visit on short notice.

Click here to download a printable PDF version of these Post-Op instructions.

If you have any questions prior to your scheduled surgery, please call our office at (850) 386-4602.
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Oral and Facial Surgery Center of Tallahassee, 3330 Capital Oaks Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32308; (850) 386-4602;; 6/30/2024; Page Phrases: oral surgeon Tallahassee FL;