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Patient Instructions

After Wisdom Tooth Removal

The removal of wisdom teeth is a serious surgical procedure, and post-operative care is very important to maximize the healing process. Unnecessary pain, swelling, and infection can be minimized if the following instructions are followed carefully.

Woman laughing with her mouth open

Immediately Following Surgery

We will send you home with gauze in your mouth over the wisdom tooth sites. Please bite with pressure on this gauze for the first hour. After that first hour, remove the gauze. If there is still bleeding, take a provided sterile gauze, fold it and place it over the tooth site. Bite with firm pressure for 30 minutes. Do this two more times if the bleeding continues, if this does not bring the bleeding to an unnoticeable level, find a black tea bag and place that over the socket, and bite with pressure for one hour. A summary of recommendations is below.

  • Gauze over the surgical area should remain in place for an hour. After this time, the gauze is gently removed and discarded
  • Begin taking the prescribed pain medications immediately after surgery. This will usually coincide with the local anesthetic wearing off, and you are more likely to stay ahead of any significant pain.
  • Restrict your activities the day of surgery. We recommend you refrain from vigorous exercise, and resume normal activity when you feel comfortable
  • Place ice packs on the sides of your face where the surgery was performed. Cycle them on and off for 20 minutes during the first day of surgery in response to swelling


Pain after tooth extraction typically lasts 4-5 days. If the pain does not show signs of resolution after day 5, it may require attention, and we recommend you call our office.

For moderate pain, a combination of Tylenol and Ibuprofen is typically enough to prevent significant discomfort.

For severe pain, we may prescribe pain medication that may make you groggy and slow down your reflexes. Do not operate motor-vehicles or work around machinery while on this medication. Avoid alcoholic beverages.


The swelling that is expected is usually proportional to the extent of the surgery. Swelling around the mouth, cheeks, and sides of the face is quite common. Swilling may not become apparent until the day following surgery, and may not reach its full extent until 2-3 days after surgery. However, the swelling may be minimized by the immediate use of ices packs (frozen pea bags wrapped in a thin cloth are ideal) after surgery. The packs should only be used in 20 minute placement intervals, with at least 20 minutes in between. After 2 days, the application of moist heat to the sides of the face is more beneficial in reducing the size of the swelling.


A certain amount of bleeding is expected after surgery. Slight bleeding, oozing, or redness in the salvia is common, and bleeding may look worse than it is when it mixes with saliva. Excessive bleeding is controlled with pressure and gauze in a firm bite. To minimize bleeding further, sit upright and avoid vigorous activity. If bleeding continues after several 30-minute bites on gauze, place a black tea bag over the extraction site and bite down. If bleeding still does not subside, call for further instructions.


A soft diet for 4 days is the key to keeping a clot undisturbed. We recommend only liquids for the rest of the day after surgery. Your food intake may be limited for the first few days. Compensate for this by increasing your fluid intake — at least 6-7 glasses of liquid should be taken daily. Try not to miss a single meal. You will feel better, have more strength, less discomfort and heal faster if you continue to eat.

Note: You have undergone surgery, which often involves the cutting of gum tissue and bone. Pain, swelling, and bleeding are expected to a varying degrees. Pain can often persist for days to weeks as the body heals.