Post-Operative Instructions


Impacted Tooth Exposure


A certain amount of bleeding is to be expected following surgery. Slight oozing or blood-tinged saliva is not uncommon for the first 12–24 hours. You may be asked to keep a gauze pad over the surgical site with firm biting pressure for 1 hour. After this time, remove and discard the gauze pad. It does not need to be replaced unless bleeding continues or recurs.


Swelling is the body’s normal and healthy reaction to surgery; it is expected after most surgical procedures and is usually proportional to the extent of surgery performed. It is not uncommon for swelling to occur around the mouth, cheeks, eyes, and sides of the face. Most swelling will not become apparent until the day following surgery and will not reach its maximum until 48–72 hours postoperatively. However, swelling and discomfort may be minimized by the immediate use of ice packs. Apply ice packs to the side of the face over the area where the procedure was performed for the first 24–48 hours. Ice packs should be left on for 30 minutes and then removed for 30 minutes while awake. After 48 hours ice has no beneficial effect. Instead, the application of heat may be helpful in reducing the amount of swelling more quickly.


Take the prescribed pain medication before you begin to feel discomfort. This usually coincides with the start of the local anesthetic wearing off. Taking pain medication on an empty stomach may cause nausea, so it is recommended to take the pills with food or drink. Pain medication may make you groggy and slow down your reflexes. Aspirin or other over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®), may be used when appropriate.


It is best to wait until after the local anesthetic has completely worn off before beginning to eat. You may eat anything soft and cool the first day by chewing away from the surgical site. Do not drink hot fluids or eat hot food the first day. Avoid hard, crunchy foods that may harm the surgical site as well as any sticky or chewy foods that may pull off a bracket or wire. It’s best to progress to more solid foods and return to your normal diet as soon as possible.


Begin gentle, warm saltwater rinses (a ½ teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water) the morning after surgery. Rinse 4–5 times a day for several days, especially after meals. Continue to brush your teeth as best as you can, remembering to stay away from the surgical site. Our doctors may prescribe an antibiotic mouth rinse to use in place of salt water.


You may have sutures in the area of the exposed tooth. If 1 or 2 become dislodged early, there is no cause for alarm. Our doctors will tell you if your sutures are dissolvable or if you will need a return visit to have them removed. If a surgical packing was placed, leave it alone. The packing helps to keep the tooth exposed. If it gets dislodged or falls out, please notify our office for further instructions.

There may be a small black suture or silver wire attaching a chain to the wire that connects your teeth together. Plan on scheduling an appointment to see your orthodontist 1–2 weeks following your surgery. Your orthodontist will remove this suture or wire before beginning the process of moving your impacted tooth into the proper position.

Please notify our office if you have any questions or concerns.