Discomfort is normal after the extraction of teeth. Your doctor will instruct you on what medications to take the day of your surgery. If you are asthmatic, do not take ibuprofen unless you have tolerated it in the past. If your pain is not controlled by the ibuprofen alone, take your prescribed narcotic in addition. Ibuprofen and your prescribed narcotic can be taken together. Be certain to take your pain medicines with food; this will help prevent nausea. Remember, narcotic pain medicine will impair your judgment and reflexes.
Gauze pad(s) should be placed directly over the extraction site(s) and held in place with firm biting pressure; proper placement will help you not swallow blood, which can make you nauseated. Gauze should be replaced when needed. When the gauze pads have little or no blood on them, they are no longer necessary. The amount of bleeding will vary from person to person. Most of your bleeding will slow within 3–4 hours, but a small amount of bleeding is common for up to 24 hours.
Do not rinse on the day of surgery; it may prolong your bleeding.
If you have been given an irrigating syringe, start irrigation on the seventh day following surgery. Fill the syringe with warm salt water and use as instructed by your doctor. Do this 3–4 times a day for 2 weeks and lessen as the surgical site heals.
Swelling is normal after surgery and is a major cause of post-extraction discomfort. Swelling typically peaks by the third day and then starts to resolve; it can be reduced by the use of an ice pack. Apply the ice pack to the affected side of your face for 30 minutes on and off. Icing is most beneficial immediately after surgery and up to 24 hours after surgery. Also, keep your head elevated on 2 pillows for 3–4 days. These measures will not eliminate swelling, but they will help to reduce its severity.
Your doctor will instruct you on when to eat following surgery. You may start with soft foods and gradually ramp up your diet as tolerated. Always cool down any hot foods or liquids during the first 24 hours. You should eat only soft foods for the first week: for example, soups, eggs, mashed potatoes, and meatloaf are fine. For 2 weeks (8 weeks if you had lower wisdom teeth extracted), do not eat hard, crunchy, or very chewy foods, such as European breads, pizza crust, steak or jerky, nuts, or popcorn. To help prevent dry socket, do not use a straw for the first 5 days after surgery.
Begin brushing your teeth the day after surgery. It is important to brush all of your teeth, even if the teeth and gums are sensitive. Bacterial plaque and food accumulation near the extraction site will delay healing.
Do not smoke for at least a week. Smoking will increase your bleeding; the nicotine and tar in tobacco impair healing and may cause a dry socket.
Unless told otherwise, avoid vigorous physical activity for 3 days following your surgery. Physical activity increases your blood pressure, which will cause an increase in your swelling, pain, and bleeding. You may gradually increase your activity, such as jogging, 5–7 days after your surgery.