Post-Surgery Instructions


The following instructions are intended for Chatham Dental patients to minimize discomfort or the potential for complications after dental surgery. When you apply these steps, you’ll find the recovery process to be surprisingly fast, with little or no pain or other issues.

When you apply these steps, you’ll find the recovery process to be surprisingly fast, with little or no pain or other issues.

  • Take all medications as recommended.
  • Drink a lot of fluids and eat soft, lukewarm food the first day.
  • Apply ice packs to the face throughout the first day (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off and chilling the pack when not in use). This should be done whether or not you have swelling or bruising.
  • Avoid spitting or sucking on a straw during your first day following surgery. It is important for smokers to refrain from smoking during the first 24 hours after surgery.
  • Do not rinse your mouth on the day of surgery. On the second day, rinse every four to six hours with a cup of warm to hot water mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Continue this for approximately one week.
  • Avoid excessive physical activity and alcohol for the rest of the day following surgery.
  • Start tooth brushing carefully the day after surgery.
  • If you are taking birth control medication and antibiotics are prescribed for your surgery, be sure to use an additional means of contraception for the duration of your cycle.

Call your dentist if you have any questions or concerns about your healing process.

What to expect


It is normal to have some bleeding for about 24 hours following surgery. If this occurs, use a fresh gauze pack or moist tea bag on the surgical site, elevate your head and bite firmly on the gauze pack for 30 minutes. Typically two to three changes will be sufficient. Do not apply the pack if bleeding is only minimal. Phone 9-1-1 promptly if your mouth continuously fills with blood.


Some discomfort is normal following any surgical procedure (including dental extraction). This can be minimized by taking medication as prescribed or recommended by your dentist or oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Pain medication works better if started before the onset of pain and taken on a regular schedule. Call your dentist if pain develops three to four days after the surgery; a protective dressing may be required.


Swelling and bruising often occur after surgery. Swelling typically increases for the first three or four days, then gradually subsides over the following three to seven
days. If the swelling causes difficulty swallowing or breathing, contact your dentist immediately. If the swelling gets better over the first three days, then gets worse, call your dentist.


Occasionally patients experience some numbness in their lip or tongue after lower jaw surgery. This generally resolves in time. Please let us know if this occurs.


Though not very common, some patients feel sick to their stomach (nauseated) for the first few days following surgery. Drinking carbonated water may be helpful. Call your dentist if this is a persistent problem.