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Post Operative Care - North Shore Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

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There are several potential side effects which may occur following oral surgery. During the surgery every effort is made to minimise the chances of these occurring, however it is not uncommon for a patient to experience one or more of the common side effects to a greater or lesser extent. The following information provides a guide to reducing the chances and severity of these incidents.

Rest, Eat & Drink
After any operation it is important that you rest quietly at home. It may be that you will not gain normal energy levels for 3 to 5 days. During this time avoid physical exercise. You will recover more quickly if you do. Because the mouth will be sore, you will be more comfortable eating a softer diet for a couple of days. Smaller quantities of food eaten more frequently are a good rule of thumb. It is also VERY important to drink as much fluid as possible during the recovery period.

NOTE: After a Sedation or General anaesthesia you must not drive a vehicle (or operate machinery) for 24 hours. (See also the Day Surgery Information)

Please DO NOT SMOKE for at least 5 days after your operation. Smoking has been implicated as a cause of delayed wound healing, wound breakdown, dry socket and infection.

Swelling and Stiffness
It is expected that all patients will experience some degree of facial swelling for up to 7 days after the operation. It usually reaches its peak on about the third day and then begins to reduce. The application of ice packs to the sides of the face for the first 8 hours (20 minutes on the face – 20 minutes off the face) may help reduce the swelling. The use of ice packs after the first 8 hours generally does not make much difference to the amount swelling. Along with the swelling you may have some stiffness of your jaw.

It is quite normal and expected that your mouth will be uncomfortable for some time after your operation and you will normally be prescribed appropriate pain relief to take home on the day of your operation. These may contain codeine and which may make you feel tired & drowsy or even nauseated or constipated. Do not drink alcohol or operate machinery whilst taking these medications, Jaw stiffness may also occur after your operation. NUROFEN is a very useful pain relieving drug which can be purchased without prescription. It may be taken in combination with prescribed pain medication.

NOTE: Some patients such as asthmatics or those with gastric problems may not be able to take NUROFEN. Check with your surgeon, your GP or your dentist if you are concerned about this.

Oral antibiotics may be prescribed. It can be in the form of tablets, capsules or elixir. It is essential that you take these until the course is complete. Some antibiotics may make you feel nauseated and can even cause diarrhoea. NOTE: Contraceptive pill and antibiotics – It has been reported that certain antibiotics may alter the effect of “the pill”.

Surgical wounds in the mouth may continue to ooze small quantities of blood for several hours after your operation. The amount of blood often looks substantial as it has mixed in with your saliva. DO NOT SPIT! Spitting will encourage bleeding. If bleeding is a problem, place a gauze pack – if provided or a clean handkerchief over the surgery site and exert pressure with your teeth or finger for one hour. Keep your head raised during the time – sleep with an extra pillow.

It is individually different, if you tend to get bruises or not. If you do, you may get bruises after 2 or 3 days. They can occur on the cheeks, sometimes at the neck and rarely on the eyelids. They usually dissolve within 4 – 6 days.

It is important to keep the mouth as clean as possible to encourage good wound healing. It will be difficult for you to use a toothbrush for the first few days and the best way to keep the mouth clean is with mouthwashes. These can be made using a teaspoon of salt dissolved in a glass or warm water or commercial antiseptic mouthwash (ie: SAVACOL) that has been diluted one capful in a glass of water. Do NOT rinse your mouth directly after your operation as this may cause bleeding and delay healing.

Bone Fragments
Sometimes after an extraction some small bone fragments may be felt in or around the socket. These usually cause minimal discomfort and after spontaneous discharge the wounds heal without problems. Occasionally it is necessary to remove the fragments to facilitate healing.