In the recovery room, nurses will monitor your vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse and temperature, until you've recovered fully from the anaesthetic.
Sometimes the dental packs (gauze packs) will remain in your mouth for up to 30 minutes after your procedure. While you may feel some pressure or discomfort from these, they should only be removed by the recovery staff.
It’s important to try and minimise swallowing any blood that may be in your mouth. If you taste blood you should expel it into a tissue or a dish, as blood in your stomach may cause nausea, which can lead to vomiting.
Ice packs may also be applied to your face. Although they may be a little uncomfortable they play an important role in preventing facial swelling. Applying ice packs periodically in the first 48 hours after your surgery will help to minimise swelling and ease discomfort.
Usually your surgeon will inject local anaesthetic into your mouth, so when you wake up your mouth will be numb. This will wear off in 4-8 hours. It’s advisable to take pain relief tablets when you first begin to you feel the local anaesthetic wearing off, as most oral pain relievers take 30–40 minutes to take effect.
You won’t be able to drive after the anaesthetic and will need someone to accompany you home. If this is difficult, please advise your doctor or hospital beforehand.
Before discharge, you’ll be given instructions and advice. This may include:
- Wound disturbance – avoid disturbing the wound as this may cause irritation, infection and bleeding
- Chewing – chew on the opposite side for 24 hours following the extraction
- Smoking – if you’re a smoker, refrain from smoking for at least 24 hours as it'll interfere with healing and may cause the wound to bleed
- Spitting and straws – avoid spitting or drinking through a straw as this may cause bleeding and dislodge the clot in the wound, which could result in a dry socket. A dry socket is when the wound doesn’t clot, leaving the nerves exposed
- Swelling – a certain amount can be expected after an extraction – this can be controlled using cold packs which slow the circulation. A cold pack should be placed at the swelling site every 20 minutes for 20 minutes at a time for the first 24 hours following surgery
- Pain control – you may be prescribed pain medication if you’re experiencing severe pain but in most cases, anti-inflammatory medication can be taken to ease minor discomfort
- Diet – it’s advisable to remain on a soft diet for the first few days until the stiffness of your jaw has lessened and your gum has healed. As you probably won’t be consuming your usual diet you may need to supplement with protein or sports drinks to maintain your energy levels and promote healing. It’s best to avoid spicy foods and very hot drinks as these can increase pain and promote bleeding. Alcohol can also increase bleeding and delay healing so should be avoided
- Cleaning your mouth – you’ll be given specific instructions about post-operative oral hygiene. These may include using special mouth rinses and instruction on how to brush your teeth. In the case of wisdom teeth extractions, you may also be asked to gently syringe the socket area with a salty solution. This is to ensure no food particles are trapped there after eating.
- Antibiotics – if you’re prescribed antibiotics, ensure you complete the course. Many antibiotics need to be taken with meals. If you find you’re not eating a full diet, eating a small amount of yoghurt prior to taking antibiotics can often help reduce gastric symptoms.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your dentist or the hospital immediately:
- Bleeding that continues even though pressure is applied
- You experience difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Swelling of your face continues for over three days following surgery
- Severe pain that does not ease with painkillers