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Post-Operative Instructions:
Tooth Extraction

Post-Operative Instructions: Tooth Extraction


  • Do not spit. Use a tissue to wipe your mouth as needed, or swallow your saliva.
  • Do not use a drinking straw. Drink straight from the cup.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Keep fingers and tongue away from the surgical area.

Spitting, the use of a straw, smoking, and poking the surgical area can dislodge the blood clot that is forming and will cause bleeding from the area. Also, smoking can increase the chances of an infection or a dry socket.


Some minor bleeding is expected after surgical tooth removal. It will usually subside quickly, and stop within an hour or two after surgery. A little oozing is normal and may persist for several hours.

  • Keep gauze on the surgical area with some pressure (biting) for 30–45 minutes.
  • Remove the gauze after 30–45 minutes and replace it with a new piece of gauze if you are still bleeding. It is important to make sure the gauze is directly on the surgical site. Firm pressure for another hour should stop the bleeding.
  • If you find that this is not working after your third attempt, use a moistened tea bag instead of the gauze. The tannic acid in tea will help form a clot and stop the bleeding.
  • If all else fails, call the office.


Most patients will experience some swelling after surgery in the mouth. It may be mild or severe and is different for every patient. The swelling may increase for the first 24–48 hours before it starts to go away. It may last for several days. Some bruising may also develop on the face.

  • Use an ice pack on the cheek or face next to the surgical site. Keep it on for 15–20 minutes, then off for 10 minutes, and repeat until you go to sleep. Start again the next day.
  • Sleep with your head elevated slightly (above the heart). This will keep swelling down.
  • On the third day, change to moist heat instead of ice packs. This will bring the swelling down quicker.


You may eat soft foods such as mashed potatoes, pasta, cottage cheese, soup, or scrambled eggs as soon as the local anesthetic wears off, although you’ll likely only feel like eating ice cream or sipping on cool fluid for the first day or so. Please do not drink through a straw for the first week after surgery.

You may resume a regular diet as soon as you feel up to it, although it is recommended that you avoid carbonated beverages for 2–3 days, and avoid crunchy foods like popcorn, chips, peanuts, etc., for 2 weeks after surgery.

Finally, please stay well-nourished and hydrated.


You may start rinsing tomorrow, very gently, with some warm salt water (1 tsp of salt in 8 oz. of warm water). Do this after meals and before bed for one week. Do not use alcohol-containing mouth rinses for the first week or so as it will burn. If you get food in a tooth socket, do not use a Waterpik® or toothbrush; we will help you rinse and give further instructions at your follow up visit. You may brush your teeth, avoiding the surgical area, either tonight or tomorrow morning. Be gentle! Do not spit or rinse forcefully.


Unless told otherwise, the sutures used during your procedure are dissolvable and will fall out on their own. This generally occurs in the first week after surgery, but timing varies from 4–10 days.


If you had anesthesia during your procedure, you should remain under the supervision of a responsible adult for the remainder of the day.

Also, your IV site may be tender to the touch, and you may even develop a small bruise. A heating pad and elevating your arm (resting it on a pillow) may help with tenderness in the area. Please call your doctor if the pain persists or the IV site becomes swollen.


You were probably given one or more prescriptions for medications. Take all medications as directed on the bottle. Call us if you experience severe nausea or diarrhea, or cannot swallow your pills.

Antibiotics: Continue until the bottle is empty. Do not quit halfway.

Pain Medicine: Usually it is necessary to take narcotic pain medication in a scheduled fashion (every 4–6 hours) for the first 24 hours and as needed thereafter. Remember that narcotics can make you drowsy, so no driving, swimming, operating machinery, or drinking alcoholic beverages while you are taking them.

You may wean yourself off of the narcotic medication and substitute 500 mg of acetaminophen (Tylenol®).

If directed to do so, you may use ibuprofen, 600 mg, every 6 hours while awake, for the first 4–5 days.


Once you are no longer taking narcotic pain medication, you may resume your normal activities as you feel up to it. Go easy at first with exercise and recreation, and increase your activity slowly over several days back to your normal routine.

Please follow these instructions as closely as possible. They are designed to help you heal quickly and comfortably.


We are here for you.

If you have a question about your procedure or treatment plan, our center has 24-hour surgeon availability. If you would like to speak to your surgeon, please contact us at any time.

During business hours, please call our office. After hours, please call our office, and our answering service will page a surgeon. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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