Tooth Extraction Post-Op Instructions

Our goal is for your healing process after an extraction to be as comfortable as possible. The removal of teeth is a surgical procedure, and post-operative care is imperative! Please follow all instructions carefully to avoid any unnecessary pain as well as possible infection.

Immediately following your surgery:

  • Keep a gauze pad placed over the surgical area with pressure applied by biting down until the bleeding stops.
  • Take prescribed pain medication as soon as you begin to feel discomfort. This will usually coincide with the local anesthetic wearing off.
  • Do not suck on a straw, spit, or smoke.
  • Restrict activities on the day of surgery and resume normal activity when you feel comfortable.
  • Place ice packs on your face where surgery was performed. Refer to the section on swelling for more information.
  • For mild discomfort, use ibuprofen, (Advil, Motrin). DO NOT take more than 800mg every 4-6 hours.
  • Vigorous mouth rinsing or touching the affected area following surgery should be avoided. This may cause bleeding by dislodging the blood clot that has formed. DO NOT rinse your mouth for the first post-operative day or while there is bleeding. After the first day, use a warm salt water rinse every 4 hours and after meals to flush out particles of food and debris that may lodge in the area.
  • Restrict your diet to liquids and soft foods which are comfortable for you to eat.


A certain amount of bleeding is to be expected following a surgical procedure. Slight bleeding, oozing, or redness in the saliva is not uncommon. Bleeding is best controlled by the use of pressure. Excessive bleeding may be controlled by placing a gauze pad over the area and biting down firmly for thirty minutes. Repeat if necessary. If bleeding has not decreased in 3-4 hours, bite on a dampened tea bag placed directly over the surgical site. The tannic acid in the tea will help the blood to clot.


The amount of swelling normally expected following an extraction depends on the type of surgery. Swelling around the mouth, cheek, eyes, and side of the face is not uncommon. Swelling may not appear immediately, and it may occur as late as 2 – 3 days after surgery. You can help to minimize swelling by applying ice packs to the affected area in the following manner:

  • For the first 3 hours, apply ice packs directly to the affected area, alternating on for 20 minutes and then off for 20 minutes.
  • Please note that applying ice after the first 24 hours has no beneficial effect.

If swelling or jaw stiffness has persisted for several days, there is no cause for alarm. If swelling is significant, you may use a moist heat compress to help suppress it.


Post-operative pain will be the most severe on the first day after surgery. Pain medication will be the most effective if taken before the numbness wears off. For moderate pain, 800mg of Ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) may be taken every 4 – 6 hours. For severe pain, take the medication prescribed for you by Dr. Van Maren. DO NOT take pain medication on an empty stomach as nausea may result. Prescribed medication may make you drowsy so please DO NOT drive a car or operate machinery and avoid alcoholic beverages. Pain or discomfort following surgery should subside more and more each day. If pain persists, it may require a visit to our office, please contact us.


If you have been given antibiotics, take the medication as prescribed. Antibiotics may be prescribed to help you prevent infection. Discontinue your prescribed antibiotics if they cause a rash or other unfavorable reaction. PLEASE NOTE: If you are currently using birth control pills, they will be rendered inactive by your antibiotic.

Nausea and Vomiting

In the event that you experience nausea and vomiting following surgery, DO NOT take anything by mouth for at least an hour. This includes prescribed medications. After that first hour, you should sip on water, tea, or juice. Sip slowly over a fifteen minute period. When your nausea subsides, you can begin to take solid foods and prescribed medications.


If sutures were required by the doctor during your surgery, they will dissolve on their own in 7 to 10 days. It will not be necessary to return to the office for suture removal.


Over-exertion may start or intensify your pain. AVOID excessive work or play. It is not necessary to stay indoors following an uncomplicated surgery. However, rest and minimal activity will help minimize pain, swelling, and bleeding. Normal activity may be resumed the following day as tolerated.

Oral Hygiene

DO NOT rinse or spit vigorously for the first 24 hours following surgery. You can brush your teeth the night of the surgery, but take care to rinse gently. The day after surgery, you should begin rinsing four times a day and after eating. Do this gently to avoid dislodging the blood clot. To rinse, mix a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water. DO NOT use a non-prescription rinse for 24 hours after surgery. Clean the rest of your mouth as usual.


It is advisable to eat only soft, non-spicy foods for the first few days following surgery. AVOID hot food or liquid that may agitate the already inflamed area. AVOID rice, grits, and foods that are very small and may become lodged in the surgical area.

Special Considerations

Trismus, or stiffness, in the face muscles, may cause difficulty in opening your mouth for a period of days. Moist heat compresses can minimize this condition. You may experience aching from other teeth. This aching is caused by referred pain and is a temporary condition. It is not unusual to develop bruising in the area of the extraction. There may be a slight elevation in temperature for 24 – 48 hours. Please call our office if the fever persists.

Dry Socket

A “dry socket” is the loss of the blood clot in the socket where a tooth was removed. This condition creates delayed healing at the extraction site and presents symptoms such as pain in the ear, chin, adjacent teeth, and/or, jaw. This discomfort usually begins about the third or fourth day after surgery and can last for many days. The cause of a dry socket is unknown, but it can be attributed to the difficulty of the surgery, a patient’s increased age, medications, such as birth control pills, and smoking. Treatment is for symptoms only.