Post-Op Instructions and Aftercare
Although many of our services involve conservative or minimally invasive techniques, there are some surgical dental procedures that require a brief healing period. Fortunately, following your dentist’s guidelines after surgery can reduce the possibility of complications and help accelerate your recovery. Dr. Jeff Blackburn and Dr. Kevin (Chang Hun) Lee have provided comprehensive post-operative instructions for the various dental procedures performed at our Richmond-area practice. Please don’t hesitate to contact our dentists if you have any questions about aftercare following your treatment.
- Before Anesthesia
- Wisdom Teeth Removal Aftercare
- Implant Surgery Aftercare
- Bone Grafting Aftercare
- Pinhole® Surgical Technique Aftercare
Instructions Before Dental Anesthesia
- Do not eat or drink anything, including water, for at least eight hours before your dental procedure.
- Avoid smoking for at least 12 hours prior to surgery. Ideally, quit smoking to the best of your ability before your procedure to limit the risks of infection or other complications during recovery.
- If you regularly take medication, please inform your dentist before surgery and follow his/her instructions.
- Please notify our office if you have any type of illness on the day of your surgery, such as a sore throat, cold, upset stomach, or bowel issues.
- Do not come to your appointment wearing excessive makeup, contact lenses, dentures, jewelry, lipstick, or nail polish.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing and shoes with no (or low) heels to your appointment.
- Please come to your appointment with a responsible adult who can wait for you during your procedure and drive you home after surgery.
- Do not drive or operate heavy machinery for approximately 24 hours after ingesting anesthesia.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Aftercare
Immediately After Surgery
- Keep the gauze pads in place for 30 minutes after your procedure.
- Gently rinse the inside of your mouth with lukewarm water and take care to avoid touching the wound area or dislodging the blood clot that has formed.
- Place ice packs on the side(s) of your face for approximately 36 hours after surgery during times when you’re awake.
- Rest for as long as you need to after your procedure and do not attempt to resume your normal routine until you are ready.
Throughout the Healing Period
- To control bleeding: Firmly bite down on a gauze pad for 30 minutes and repeat as necessary. If bleeding persists, try biting on a moistened tea bag for 30 minutes. The tannins in tea should help form new blood clots.
- To reduce swelling: Swelling in the cheeks, eyes, and face is a normal reaction to surgery and should subside naturally as your recovery progresses. You can manage swelling using ice packs, moist heat, and over-the-counter pain medication.
- To manage pain: Start with over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol®, Extra Strength Tylenol®, Motrin®, or Advil®. Take one to two tablets (around 200 mg) every three to four hours. If significant pain persists, take your prescribed pain medications as necessary and do not drive or operate heavy machinery.
You can also decrease bleeding and swelling after wisdom teeth extraction by sitting upright and refraining from exercise until your surgeon instructs otherwise. If uncontrolled bleeding, swelling, and/or pain continues, please call our office for further care instructions.
Dental Implant Surgery Aftercare
Immediately after dental implant surgery, it is very important to avoid disturbing the wound sites as your gums heal. Do not rinse, spit, or touch the affected area for the rest of the day. Additionally, refer to these post-operative instructions:
- Bleeding: Some amount of bleeding is normal after a dental implant procedure, but the mouth should not be filling up with blood. If this is your experience, bite down on a gauze pad for 30 minutes and reach out to our practice if excessive bleeding continues.
- Swelling: Swelling is common and expected after implant surgery. In the first 36 hours after your procedure, apply ice packs and moist heat to the sides of the face to minimize inflammation.
- Pain: Begin taking over-the-counter painkillers such as Tylenol®, Extra Strength Tylenol®, Motrin®, or Advil® when you feel the anesthesia start to wear off. In general, one to two tablets every four hours can help manage pain well. If necessary, take your prescribed pain medications to reduce persistent discomfort.
- Diet: A soft food/liquid diet will be necessary on the day of surgery and during the initial healing period. Avoid consuming foods that are very hot or very cold. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids after surgery.
- Medications: Take your antibiotics as directed to prevent an infection.
- Oral hygiene: Good oral hygiene is pivotal to the success of your implant. On the night of your surgery, rinse with Peridex™ before bed and repeat every morning (after breakfast) and night (prior to sleeping) until your dentist directs otherwise. In addition, rinse your mouth with warm water and a teaspoon of salt approximately four to five times a day—especially after meals. You may brush your teeth and implant abutments, but please be gentle when cleaning around the surgical sites.
- Activity: Do not exercise until your dentist or oral surgeon says it’s safe to do so. Stop doing any activities that cause your gums to throb or bleed.
- Your prosthesis: Do not wear your dentures for at least 10 days after your procedure.
Bone Grafting Surgery Aftercare
If you have lost bone density over the years or if you do not have enough bone volume to support an implant, a tissue graft may be necessary to regenerate a healthy bone structure. Following your bone grafting procedure:
- Do not smoke, and avoid touching or otherwise disturbing the wound sites.
- During the initial healing period, do not apply pressure—whether from your fingers or from your tongue—to the grafted areas.
- Refrain from pulling your lips up to view the sutures. This can put stress on the surgical site and possibly result in a suture tear.
- Avoid rinsing or spitting for two days to allow a blood clot to form.
- After the second day of recovery, you can start gently rinsing your mouth. Be careful to avoid disrupting the graft site.
If you find small granules of the bone graft in your mouth after surgery, do not be alarmed; this is normal for the first several days following a bone grafting procedure.
Pinhole® Surgical Technique Aftercare
The Pinhole® Surgical Technique is a minimally invasive gum recession treatment that does not require incisions or sutures. As a result, the recovery period after surgery is typically smooth and well-tolerated. Following treatment, do not:
- Touch, floss, or brush over the area (even with a cotton swab)
- Eat crunchy or sticky foods
- Drink from a straw
- Clench or grind your teeth (wear your prescribed oral appliance all day if necessary)
During the brief healing period:
- Use a Waterpik® to floss, if absolutely necessary.
- Apply ice packs in 10-second intervals to minimize swelling during the first 48 hours after treatment.
- Take over-the-counter pain medications as necessary.
- Expect sensitivity to cold temperatures for at least six weeks.
- Rinse only with the lips apart.
Please call our team at South River Dentistry if you have any concerns or uncontrolled reactions after surgery. We will be following up with your care as necessary to monitor the progress of your recovery.