How to take care of yourself after having surgery in your mouth

If you have had minor oral surgery you will probably go home the same day. Here are some common questions with answers and advice on post-operative care.

Will I be in pain?

  • Not for the first few hours because you won’t have any sensation due to the local anaesthetic used. You need to avoid eating or drinking hot drinks and avoid biting your lip during this time because you can damage your mouth without realising.
  • After a few hours, your mouth may be sore but taking Ibuprofen, Paracetamol or a paracetamol/codeine painkiller should be all you need to feel comfortable. If I thought you might need more I will have given you some stronger painkillers. Please be careful to avoid overdosing, read the instructions on the packets carefully.
  • If your mouth or wound starts to hurt suddenly several days later, please contact me through the hospital where you had surgery. You may have developed an infection that needs treatment.

How can I avoid bleeding?

Your wound will have stopped bleeding when you leave to go home, but some simple precautions can make sure it doesn’t start bleeding again:

  • Do not drink hot drinks or eat hot food, or sharp, crunchy or difficult to chew food within 24 hours of your operation.
  • For this first day, don’t be tempted to rinse your mouth either. The wound has a blood clot that needs to stay in place to do its job.
  • If you do start to bleed, take a piece of sterile gauze, roll it up and bite down with it directly over the wound for 15 minutes minimum.

How do I keep my mouth clean?

  • After 24 hours, rinsing your mouth is crucial. Use a mug of warm water with a teaspoon of salt dissolved in it. Don’t swallow this – just hold it in your mouth, rinse round gently and spit out. Repeat 4-5 times each day.
  • Clean your teeth gently, keeping away from the wound.
  • You can use an anti-plaque mouth wash as well if you find brushing uncomfortable.

Will my face swell?

  • If your surgery was near to the jaw, swelling is quite common. It gets worse for the first two or three days but then starts to go down and should have returned to normal by 10 days after your operation.
  • Many patients also find their face is bruised – this can take two weeks to fade completely.

Will I have stitches?

  • This depends on your surgery but if you do have stitches, we used dissolving sutures, so you don’t need to have them removed.

What medicines will I need to take?

  • Apart from painkillers, you may also need a course of antibiotics. I will give you advice on how and when to take them.

What do I do in an emergency?

  • If you experience continuous or severe bleeding, severe pain or feel very unwell, you need to get medical help. Please contact the hospital where you were treated and they will contact me on your behalf.