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Care at Home After Oral Surgery

You can take steps at home to reduce your child’s chance of problems after oral surgery. These home care tips can help.

Dealing with bleeding at home

Bleeding is one of the most common side effects after oral surgery. Take these steps to help control any bleeding your child might have:

  • Place moist gauze over the surgical site.
  • Ask your child to bite down on the gauze.
  • Tell your child to put firm pressure on the gauze for 35–45 minutes.

If the bleeding doesn’t stop on its own or becomes more serious, contact your child’s care team.

During the first 24 hours after surgery, your child should not:

  • Spit
  • Rinse
  • Use a straw

This allows the surgery site to form a clot. Clots allow the site to heal. Spitting, rinsing, or using a straw can dislodge a clot.

Rinsing safety at home

Do not allow your child to rinse their mouth with anything for the first 24 hours after surgery.

Start warm saltwater rinses after the first day.

  • Mix a half teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces (240 ml) of warm water.
  • Your child should swish and spit this mixture.
  • Encourage your child to do this at least 4 times daily, especially after meals.
Shot of a little boy drinking chocolate milkshake at home.

After surgery, your child may need liquids and soft foods only at first.

Eating after oral surgery

Your child should keep eating while their mouth heals.

At first, your child may need liquids and soft foods only. While your child’s mouth is sore, good options include:

  • Liquid supplements
  • Milkshakes
  • Soups
  • Eggs
  • Cooked cereal
  • Flavored gelatin
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Applesauce

Dealing with pain after oral surgery

The doctor may prescribe a pain medicine after surgery. These drugs can sometimes cause nausea if taken on an empty stomach.

To help prevent an upset stomach, have your child take pain medicines with food.

Some pain medicines can cause a person to feel dizzy or drowsy.

Swelling after oral surgery

Your child’s face may swell after oral surgery. This is another common side effect.

The swelling may not be the same on each side.

  • Swelling may get worse for up to 3 days.
  • Your child’s face may not return to normal for 5–8 days.
  • You may notice redness or bruising.
  • Redness and bruising will go away in 7–10 days.

You might be able to reduce the swelling and bruising:

  • Apply ice packs to the swollen areas during the first 24 hours.
  • Use the ice packs for only 20 minutes at a time.
  • Wait at least 20 minutes before using ice packs again.
  • After 24 hours, apply heat to the jaw, using warm, moist towels.
  • Use the towels for only 20 minutes at a time.
  • Wait at least 20 minutes before using the towels again.

It is also normal for the jaw to feel stiff. This should get better as the swelling subsides.

Use antibiotics as prescribed

If the doctor prescribes an antibiotic, your child should take it as directed.

Do not stop giving your child antibiotics when they start feeling better. Your child should take the antibiotic until it is all gone.

If you have questions about drug interactions or side effects, talk to your child’s care team.

Key Points

  • You can take steps at home to make your child feel better after oral surgery.
  • Be sure your child does not use a straw, spit, or rinse for 24 hours after surgery.
  • Swelling, bruising, and redness are common after oral surgery.
  • Be sure your child takes all antibiotics as prescribed.
  • Call your child’s care team if you have questions about drug interactions or side effects.

Reviewed: February 2022