Post-surgical care

I have recently had oral surgery.

There are many different types of oral surgery, from the very simple or minor surgery to the very serious, complex major surgery. What all types of surgery have in common is the need to keep the wound clean and free from infection and to facilitate rapid healing and recovery. Your dentist, oral surgeon, or periodontist who supervised the surgery will have provided advice about post-operative care and healing, including toothbrushing and rinsing, any dietary restrictions, any medications for pain relief or infection control, and when to return for removal of any sutures or follow-up.

This article focuses on minor oral surgery such as extractions, placement of dental implants, periodontal surgery, and small biopsies.


In most cases of minor oral surgery, the recovery period only lasts a few days. You may experience some swelling and mild discomfort, which is part of the normal healing process. The following may have been included in any postoperative advice that your dentist or oral surgeon provided; if you are in any doubt, contact your surgeon’s office:

  • Apply ice packs to help reduce any swelling.
  • Take prescribed medications for controlling pain or swelling as directed. If taking antibiotics, complete the entire course even if all the pain and swelling have subsided.
  • Avoid aspirin because it thins the blood and can lead to further bleeding.
  • Take it easy for the rest of the day after surgery. Avoid vigorous exercise or heavy lifting.
  • Eat soft foods and have plenty of fluids to drink.
  • Avoid alcohol on the day of surgery.
  • Try not to smoke or use other tobacco products. Smoking has been shown to delay wound-healing.
  • Keep your mouth clean. Depending upon the surgery, you may be advised not to rinse or brush for the first 24 hours. Commence your normal oral hygiene routine as soon as possible. A GUM® Post-Surgical Toothbrush with ultra-soft bristles is ideal, especially for teeth adjacent to the surgical wound.



  • Use any prescribed rinse as directed. Chlorhexidine is a commonly prescribed rinse to help prevent infections and to keep the mouth clean. Ask for an alcohol-free rinse, as it will be more comfortable.