Wisdom Teeth Post-Op

Post Operative Protocol For Wisdom Teeth

DIET: Advance diet as tolerated, meaning you may begin eating and drinking as desired.  Drink lots of fluids.  Please DO NOT USE STRAWS for 5 days.

GAUZE PACKS: Gauze packs have been placed over the surgical sites.  Continue to bite on the gauze for one hour.  DO NOT CHANGE the gauze frequently as this may cause continued bleeding.  After the first hour, remove the gauze packs.  A small amount of oozing from the surgical area is normal, and may persist until bedtime that night.  You have been given additional gauze and this can be changed every hour as needed.

SUTURES:  If sutures were placed, they are resorbable and dissolve anywhere between 48 hours to 10 days after surgery.

MOUTH RINSE: If your surgeon has prescribed an antimicrobial mouth rinse, use it as directed.

ANTIBIOTICS:  If your surgeon has prescribed an antibiotic course, finish the antibiotic until the course has been completed.  DO NOT stop taking the antibiotic early.

SWELLING:  Expect the swelling and discomfort to peak on post-operative days 2 and 3, then gradually improve over the next several days.

ICE PACKS:  Apply ice packs directly to the outside of both cheeks.  Ice is most useful to decrease swelling the first 48 hours following surgery.  You may rotate use, 30 minutes on, 30 minutes off. Changing ice packs is not necessary at night while sleeping. Restart ice upon waking in the morning.

PAIN MEDICATION:  Take any medication as needed and as directed.  Begin taking the pain medication before all the numbness goes away.

  • If you were prescribed 800mg Ibuprofen, start with that as soon as you get home and take every 8 hours as directed.
  • Between the doses of 800mg Ibuprofen, take 500mg Tylenol (if there are no medical contraindications in your specific case).
  • Use the narcotic pain medication only as needed for breakthrough pain, as directed.
  • Note that the limit of Acetaminophen/Tylenol in a 24-hour period is 3000mg.
  • Make sure to eat BEFORE taking pain medication, as most pain medications can cause nausea/GI upset when taken on an empty stomach.

ACTIVITY AFTER SURGERY:  Rest as soon as you get home.  It may be helpful to keep your head slightly elevated for the first 24 hours (sleep on extra pillow if necessary.). Refrain from strenuous physical activity for 5 days.

SMOKING:  Smoking impairs healing of the tissue at any stage of recovery, but smoking is ABSOLUTELY CONTRAINDICATED FOR 7 DAYS FOLLOWING SURGERY.


  • Continue to use ice packs
  • Continue to rest and keep head elevated
  • Begin rinsing with salt water 3-4 times a day to help with surgical site healing (salt water rinse can be made by using 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water)
  • Brush your teeth at least two times a day; it is important to keep your mouth clean


  • Discontinue ice packs 72 hours after surgery
  • Continue with salt water rinse until sutures dissolve
  • Remember that the third day is usually the peak for swelling and discomfort
  • Starting 72 hours after surgery, use the orange packs provided for heat application to the jaw. There are instructions on the packs for how to warm in the microwave.  This may be necessary for up to 7 days post operatively.
  • It is normal to develop some bruising on the cheeks, chin, and/or neck that will resolve in several days