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Dental surgery - Post-Operative Care

Published on March 8, 2024 at 8:00 / Updated on March 26, 2024 at 8:00

Dental surgery, which may include procedures such as implants, extractions and grafts, inevitably causes a certain amount of discomfort and requires special care to optimize healing. Here are some home care instructions intended to help reduce discomfort after oral surgery.


Some minor bleeding after surgery is normal and may last for up to 24 hours. Your saliva will likely be tinged with blood. Passed the first twenty four hours after the procedure, rinse your mouth out with salt water (¼ teaspoon of salt diluted in a glass of water) 5 to 6 times a day and after each meal.

After the procedure, apply firm and consistent pressure on the surgery site by bitting down on a gauze pack for 45 to 60 minutes. This is an important step in the clotting process. A blood clot that forms immediately after surgery promotes healing. Losing that first blood clot may lead to complications such as bleeding, pain and post-operative infection.

If, for whatever reason bleeding resumes, it is recommended that you use a lightly moistened tea bag in place of the gauze and bite with consistent pressure on the tea bag for 45 to 60 minutes. This will help form another blood clot. If bleeding persists, speak to your dentist.


During the first 24 hours, refrain from drinking through a straw, spitting, smoking, rinsing your mouth out or engaging in any physical activity. Eating warm foods reduces the risk of bleeding. The objective is to avoid doing anything that could dislodge the blood clot. Start by eating foods that are soft and warm, then, as healing progresses, gradually reintroduce firmer foods.


Pain is normal within the first 24 to 48 hours. The level of discomfort varies from person to person. To alleviate any discomfort, take the analgesics or anti-inflammatories that were prescribed to you by your dentist. You can take a milder analgesic as the pain dissipates with each passing day. Avoid taking products that contain aspirin. If pain persists or intensifies in spite of taking analgesics, speak to your dentist.

You may also experience some discomfort when moving your jaw for up to 7 to 10 days after surgery. Make the appropriate changes to your diet if such is the case.


Swelling after surgery is to be expected. To prevent or reduce swelling, apply ice wrapped in a damp towel to cheeks for 15 minutes every hour, during the first 48 hours. This will help reduce edema on the cheeks. After the first 48 hours, warm compresses are recommended to stimulate blood flow and promote healing. Keeping your head elevated will also help reduce swelling.

Oral hygiene

Despite the pain and minor bleeding that may occur, brushing your teeth is one of the most important components in the healing process. A clean mouth will ensure faster healing. Brush your teeth as usual and be extra careful around the surgery site.


If your dentist has prescribed medication, take as directed. If antibiotics are prescribed, it is important that you finish the prescription to fight off infection.

To recap:

For the first 24 hours after surgeryAfter more than 24 hours
  • Brush your teeth as usual and be extra careful around the surgery site.
  • Apply ice wrapped in a damp towel to cheeks for 15 minutes every hour.
  • Refrain from drinking through a straw, spitting, rinsing your mouth or engaging in any physical activity.
  • Eat warm or cold foods to reduce the risk of bleeding.
  • As needed, continue ice application to cheeks for a day.
  • During a few days, rinse your mouth with salt water (¼ teaspoon of salt diluted in a glass of water), 5 to 6 times a day and after each meal.
  • Brush your teeth as usual and be extra careful around the surgery site.

Contact your dentist if you experience persistent pain or bleeding. The healing process will be faster if you do not smoke.

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