Following all procedures Dr. Britten and one of our assistants will go over postoperative instructions and answer any questions you may have. Here is some more information in case you have additional questions.
Post Operative Instructions
Following periodontal surgery, the discomfort level varies from patient to patient and even from one area to another. You may have been given a long lasting anesthetic and it is not uncommon for you to remain “numb” for several hours after surgery. In order to minimize the discomfort, it is best to start taking your prescription Ibuprofen prior to the local anesthetic wearing off. Continue to take your discomfort medication according to the instructions placed on the label for as long as it is needed. Sometimes, you may supplement your prescription medication, if necessary, by taking 2 non-prescription analgesic tablets, such as Tylenol (Acetaminophen) in between doses of your prescription medications. Please check with Dr. Britten with any specific instructions regarding which analgesic you may use as a supplement.
Oozing blood or blood-stained saliva is not unusual following surgery for the first 48 hours. In order to prevent potential bleeding problems, it is advised to avoid vigorous swishing and the use of straws for 5 days. Straws, smoking or any other sucking action can cause negative pressure which can result in bleeding. Should significant bleeding persist in one area, dip 2 cotton (folded) gauze in iced cold water, squeeze out the excess water, place the wet gauze in the area of the bleeding and apply firm pressure for 15 minutes. If bleeding continues, repeat this process but use a black (Lipton) tea bag. When bleeding occurs, it is always best to keep your head elevated. Repeat this step if the bleeding has not stopped completely. If it continues, contact our office.
If you were advised to stop taking your Aspirin, Coumadin, Plavix or any other type of blood thinners you may resume taking your medication the day following your procedure unless otherwise instructed.
Should nausea occur, it is most likely the result of swallowing small amounts of blood or as a side effect of your medication. While you may have been instructed pre-operatively to avoid food due to having sedation anesthesia, it is generally advised to take medications with food post-operatively. If it persists and results in vomiting, stop taking all medications and contact our office.
This is a normal sign of healing, especially in the first 7 days following surgery. Swelling commonly gets worse before it gets better. If severe swelling with pain is present or you have a temperature of 101 or greater, please contact our office. To minimize swelling, place ice pack on your face over the area as soon as possible following surgery for 20 minutes on and then 20 minutes off. (Refreeze ice pack when not in use) Repeat this as often as possible for the first 3 days. If swelling persists after 3 days, utilize moist heat packs 20 minutes on and off until swelling subsides. (Place given gel pack in the microwave for 10-15 seconds)
Bruising is not unusual and can occur in varying degrees. To minimize bruising utilize ice packs as described above. A homeopathic medication called ARNICA can be purchased over the counter. This topical gel can minimize or shorten the extent and duration of any bruising.
If you were given a prescription for an antibiotic, be sure to take it all as directed and do not stop after 2-3 days even if it is feeling better. Antibiotics are often used to prevent surgical infections as much as they are used to treat infections. Ladies, please be aware that antibiotic medications can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills.
Routine oral hygiene should continue in the areas of non-surgical therapy. If you were given a
prescription for Chlorhexidine (Peridex) rinse, begin to use gently twice a day (once in the morning and the last thing you do at night before bed) the evening of your procedure. Try to keep the rinse isolated to the surgical area of your mouth. Discontinue use of chlorhexidine (Peridex) rinse after 1 week (or 7 days) and begin use of the soft post-operative toothbrush (that we provide) with toothpaste for the next 7 days unless otherwise instructed. Our team will give you further instructions for homecare at your post-operative appointment.
A “bandage” or dressing material may have been placed in order to protect the surgical area. This is pink in color and a putty-like material that surrounds the teeth but should not interfere with chewing surfaces as it is a temporary bandage. It should be in place until your post-operative appointment. However at times, pieces of it may break off or may completely come off, but this is of no concern unless the area becomes uncomfortable.
If you have had a tissue graft, try to keep the area as immobile as possible (such as talking) for the first 36 hours following surgery. DO NOT pull on your lip to look at the graft until instructed that it is ok to do so. Typically this will be for the first 2 weeks of healing to not disrupt the graft.
If the tissue graft was “borrowed” from the palate, a derma bond type of adhesive is commonly placed to seal the donor site. This acts as a scab and may feel slightly rough to your tongue. Please do not peel the adhesive prematurely. It will naturally flake off once healing has occurred typically between 12-21 days.
You may also have a palate-protecting healing appliance that was made. Please wait to begin using this appliance until 24 hours after surgery to allow stable clotting to occur. The appliance is to be used for your comfort following your procedure and can be worn for as long as needed for up to three weeks post-operatively.
If you had bone grafting placed, you may notice some small granules of what feels like hard rice or sand in your mouth. This is typically during the suturing process and some of the granules may have escaped. If at any time, you should feel a “clump” of bone graft material, please notify our dental team.
Smoking greatly impairs the healing process, can compromise the final results of your procedure and may cause additional discomfort. The longer you are able to refrain from smoking or reduce the frequency of smoking, the more quickly you will heal. If adjunctive tobacco is needed, please use a patch and not chewing gum.
If possible, do not chew in the area(s) where surgery was performed. Avoid hot foods and liquids for the first 48 hours. Adequate nutrition is essential for healing. Eat softer foods that fit your diet and comply with our soft foods list. Avoid certain foods with small seeds and nuts such as tomatoes, chia seeds, popcorn, and seeded breads until your post-operative appointment. Fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are ok to eat during this time. Our team will give you further instructions regarding your diet at your post-operative appointment. Avoid alcoholic beverages for a minimum of 24 hours after your surgery and possibly longer depending on what medications we have prescribed. Drink plenty of water and clear liquids while healing.
If you received conscious sedation, do not operate motor vehicles or heavy equipment or make any important life decisions for 24 hours. Amnesia is a common side effect and your memory of events may be altered during and after surgery for several hours. Therefore it is important to have the assistance of a responsible adult. Please take care when walking as you might be drowsy from your procedure.
If you have any questions or problems, please feel free to call our office at 727-586-2681. After hours, Dr. Britten can be reached at 813-493-1250.