Post-Operative Instructions for Wisdom Teeth (3rd Molars)


Immediately following surgery, keep the gauze pad placed over the surgical area with pressure applied by biting down until the bleeding stops. A certain amount of bleeding is to be expected following a surgical procedure. Placing the gauze pad over the area and biting firmly may control excessive bleeding. Slight bleeding, oozing, or redness in the saliva is not uncommon. Repeat as necessary within a one-hour period following surgery. To help minimize bleeding, refrain from physical exercise, sitting up, and excitement. You may become dizzy when getting up following surgery and for a few days after the surgery. Sit up slowly and give yourself a minute to adjust before getting up and walking. 

Swelling and stiffness are to be expected the first 24 hours after surgery. Swelling around the face, eyes and surgical site is not uncommon. This swelling may not appear until the day following the surgery and may become more noticeable two to three days following surgery. You can help to minimize the swelling by applying a cold compress on the face near the extraction site alternating on for 20 minutes then off for 20 minutes. After 36 hours the ice will have no further impact on swelling. After this period, the application of moist heat to the sides of the face can help reduce swelling.

If you have been prescribed pain medication besides aspirin, Tylenol or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), do not drive, operate heavy equipment, work around machinery or tools or engage in any other activity that may be unsafe when groggy, as your reflexes and judgment will be affected by the medication. Medication should not be taken on an empty stomach. If you have been placed on antibiotics, take the medicine as directed. Antibiotics may be prescribed to help prevent infection.

For 24-48 hours following your surgery, do not suck on a straw, drink from a bottle, rinse, spit, or smoke. Doing so may result in dislodging the clot and promote bleeding Avoid hot and spicy foods, carbonated and alcoholic beverages. During the first few days after surgery restrict your diet to liquids and soft foods such as soups, yogurt, juice, and smoothies. Avoid vigorous activities for three to four days after surgery. No heavy lifting. You may go back to your normal routine as tolerated.

Rinsing, spitting and brushing should be avoided the day of surgery. Resume brushing the day after surgery, avoiding surgical sites with the toothbrush. After brushing, rinse gently with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon of salt mixed with eight ounces of warm water). Start the day after surgery 3x day for 7-10 days. Rinsing with warm salt water will help keep the surgical areas clean and help dissolve the sutures. Please do not use the irrigating syringe for the first five days. After five days, fill the syringe with warm salt water and flush out the socket. This will flush out any food or debris.

If numbness of the lip, chin, or tongue occurs there is no cause for alarm. This is usually temporary in nature. You should be aware that if your lip or tongue is numb, you could bite it and not feel the sensation.

A dry socket may appear and happens when a blood clot gets dislodged prematurely from the walls of the tooth socket. Symptoms of severe and/or throbbing pain at the surgical site, the ear, chin, adjacent teeth, and jaw three to four days following surgery that does not respond to pain medication can indicate a dry socket.

Please call our office if you experience severe pain, excessive bleeding or swelling, or if you have any questions or concerns. In the event of an emergency, please call our office. If you are experiencing a serious or life-threatening emergency, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.