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Post-Operative Instructions:
Wisdom Teeth

The following information will cover important information regarding proper post-surgical care for wisdom teeth extractions. If you have been scheduled to have your wisdom teeth removed, it will be important to follow these instructions.

Patients who have undergone IV sedation should be carefully attended to by a responsible family member or friend for at least 6 hours after leaving the office. The patient cannot drive for 24 hours or while taking narcotic pain medication.


A certain amount of discomfort is to be expected with any surgical procedure. This varies with the amount of surgery required. Take all prescribed pain medication as directed by Dr. McPhillips.

  • Dr. McPhillips may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication for you to take. If this is the case, take it as directed.
  • If you were not given a prescription anti-inflammatory medication, and, if you are not allergic, Dr. McPhillips will recommend Ibuprofen to take. You may take 600 mg every 6–8 hours for the first 3 days after surgery.
  • If Ibuprofen alone is not enough to control your discomfort, take the prescribed narcotic medication. It is important to take this only if needed and preferably between doses of the anti-inflammatory medication. Discomfort is usually well controlled by these medications.
    • Make sure to eat something before taking narcotic pain medication. Nausea is the most common side effect.
    • Also, make sure to take narcotic pain medication when you can stay home and relax. It is not safe to drive while taking it.


Bleeding follows any surgical procedure and should not alarm you unless it is excessive or persistent. To control bleeding, we will place a gauze dressing over the extraction site(s) and have the patient apply firm pressure. You cannot apply too much pressure. This pressure will stop the bleeding.

  • The gauze will need to be changed ONCE every hour for the first few hours after surgery. It will be important to ensure the gauze is directly over the extraction sites and the patient has firm biting pressure applied. Proper placement will keep you from swallowing excess blood, which can be nauseating.
  • If you have difficulty with the gauze, wet a tea bag under cold water and remove excess water. Place the tea bag over the extraction site and have the patient bite down on the tea bag for 30 minutes. The tannins in the tea will help stop bleeding quicker.
  • Remove the gauze or tea bags when eating or drinking to avoid choking.
  • Make sure to remove all gauze and tea bags from the mouth before taking naps or going to bed.
  • Once bleeding has stopped, remove all gauze and tea bags from the mouth. This will minimize the risk of choking.
  • The amount of bleeding varies from person to person. Most of the bleeding will slow within a few hours after surgery. A small amount of oozing is normal for the first 24 hours.


These are a normal part of the healing process and, unless extreme, are of no significant concern. Early application of ice can be helpful in decreasing the amount of swelling, which peaks 72 hours after surgery. Place an ice pack to the surgery side of your face in 20-minute intervals for the first 24–36 hours as you feel up to it. (You do not need to do this overnight.) Keep your head elevated on additional pillows. This will also help to reduce the severity of swelling. If at any time you have concerns, please contact our office.


It is important to keep your mouth clean to reduce the risk of infection. Beginning the day after surgery, you can brush your teeth normally. If it is uncomfortable near the extraction site(s), use a dampened Q-tip® or gauze to wipe down the surgical site and adjacent teeth.

  • Avoid electric toothbrushes until cleared to do so.
  • Do not use toothpicks to remove food debris from the extraction site.
  • Do not use a Waterpik® in the extraction site.
  • You can gently rinse your mouth after surgery with warm water. For those who prefer to use salt, use 1 tsp in 8–10 oz water.
  • If prescribed an antibacterial mouth rinse, use as directed.
  • Do NOT use alcohol-containing Scope®, Listerine®, or peroxide mouth rinses. These can predispose to dry socket formation.


For your comfort, start with clear cool liquids after surgery, such as apple juice, teas, water. Your diet can be advanced as you feel up to it once the numbness wears off. There are no restrictions on foods you can eat, but eat what is comfortable. Always cool down hot foods or liquids for the first 24 hours. Our recommendation is to get back to a regular diet as quickly as you can. The more mobile the jaws are, the easier your recovery will be. Softer foods such as mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, meatloaf, and pastas are ok to start with. To help prevent a dry socket, do not use a straw or drink carbonated beverages and avoid alcohol for at least the first 3 days after surgery.


This is normal for the first few days after surgery due to inflammation and swelling in the muscles. It will be important to stretch the jaws after surgery to regain your normal range of motion. If desired, it is ok to chew sugar-free gum to keep the jaws mobile after surgery.


Unless Dr. McPhillips instructs otherwise, do not plan any vigorous physical activity for the first 3 days after surgery. Strenuous activity increases your blood pressure and will increase pain, swelling, and potential for bleeding.


Please avoid all tobacco products for the first 72 hours after surgery. Nicotine adversely affects normal healing and increase your likelihood of developing a dry socket.


These can include but are not limited to a fever over 101.3, discomfort not controlled by prescribed pain medications, prolonged or excessive bleeding, or excessive swelling. After regular business hours, contact Dr. McPhillips by calling our office answering service at (254) 965-2541 for any concerns.