- Postoperative pain control is of paramount importance to us and our patients after surgery. We want you to be as comfortable as possible as you recover from your surgery. When you return home and the local anesthesia (numbing medicine) wears off, you will transition to oral pain medications to assist in pain control. The goal of postoperative pain management is to use oral pain medications to reduce pain to a tolerable level while the body heals and reduces pain naturally overtime. This may result in a maximal oral medication regimen which can be progressively decreased over the recovery process.
- Modern medicine uses three common classes of medications to achieve this goal, Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol), Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID e.g. Ibuprofen/Advil), and opiates (e.g. Oxycodone). Each act on different pain pathways within the body which allows them to all work synergistically at the same time. Using different classes of pain medications allows us to maximize the potential benefits of any one class while minimizing their respective side effects. During the postoperative period we want to maximize your pain control while minimizing any potential side effects.
- All pain medicine should be used in an “as needed” fashion. If you are not in pain, you do not need to take pain medicine. However, the baseline pain control regimen outlined above can be more effective if taken on a “scheduled” basis, regularly spaced time intervals, during the postoperative period where significant pain is anticipated. The baseline pain control regimen is more effective if taken on a “scheduled” basis rather than waiting for significant pain before taking the pain medicine. This “scheduled” strategy allows you to maintain a constant level of pain control in your blood which ultimately results in more effective pain control. If you would like to take the baseline pain control regimen on a “scheduled” basis to maximize its effectiveness we recommend taking these medications ~ 4 times per day, convenient times for most patients are breakfast, lunch, dinner, and right before you go to bed. The baseline pain control regimen can be taken together as instructed above for up to 1 week without concern for significant side effects in a healthy patient. However, if you find yourself continuing to need a “scheduled” baseline pain control regimen after 1 week, please let us know so we can make sure that you are healing appropriately.
- Opiate derived pain medications, like oxycodone, have rightfully received a lot of attention in the media recently due to their addictive potential. While this class of medication can be addictive it is important to note that addiction occurs when these medications are used for prolonged durations for chronic pain, not for acute postoperative pain. As such, these medications are safe to use as prescribed for a short duration after your surgery. However, they have other side-effects as well such as nausea, constipation, and drowsiness which are undesirable. As a result, we still reserve this class of medication for as needed additional pain control if the baseline pain control regimen above is insufficient.
- We hope all our patients recover as painlessly as possible. However, recovering from surgery is typically uncomfortable. The strategies and philosophies outlined above will not make the recovery from surgery painless, but they should serve to reduce the pain to a tolerable level while the body heals and subsequently reduces pain naturally. If you ever feel that the pain is unbearable despite these medications, please let us know so we can make sure that you are healing appropriately.
- “Oozing blood” – Saliva mixed with thin, pink blood is normal for 24 hours spontaneously and 72 hours with oral activity (eating, drinking, brushing teeth etc.)
- “Significant bleeding” – Dark red, thick clots which collect in the mouth. This amount of bleeding should be treated with pressure as described below. If it does not resolve with the methods below you should call our office 650-342-0213 to reach the doctor on call or go to the emergency room for evaluation.
- Stopping Bleeding – Prolonged pressure stops bleeding. Gauze, itself, does not stop bleeding. Gauze is simply a way to apply pressure. To apply pressure using gauze, fold the gauze ~ 4 times into the size of a Quarter and place the gauze directly on top of the bleeding area. Apply pressure by biting down or using your thumb or index finger for 30 minutes.
- Immediately after surgery gauze was likely placed in your mouth to help create pressure to reduce bleeding. This gauze can be removed ~ 30 minutes after surgery, typically by the time you get home from your procedure.
- Always remove gauze when eating or sleeping. NEVER SLEEP WITH GAUZE IN YOUR MOUTH.
- “Oozing blood” is thin, light red, saliva that may persist for up to 24 hours spontaneously or 72 hours after oral activity such as tooth brushing or eating. Oozing blood is not harmful and is likely more trouble to try to stop then to allow it to resolve naturally. This small amount of blood is not dangerous and it is best to just swallow then try to spit or wipe out. Spitting or wiping out this blood often causes the bleeding to persist or worsen. Swallowing this amount of blood will not contribute to nausea.
- “Significant bleeding” forms dark red, thick clots which are the consistency of a stewed tomato. These clots often slowly fill the back of the mouth or area between the teeth and cheek until they are wiped away or spit out. These clots are a sign of uncontrolled bleeding which your body is having a hard time stopping on its own. This bleeding needs to be controlled by using the strategies listed below. If does not resolve you should seek urgent medical attention.
- Pressure Stops Bleeding. Your body can form a healthy clot and stop bleeding naturally as long as the bleeding is slowed for a long enough time to allow for clot formation. Bleeding can be slowed by applying direct pressure to the area that is bleeding. Therefore, it is prolonged, targeted pressure which allows your body to form a clot and stop bleeding naturally. Once a clot is formed, and the bleeding has stopped, pressure is no longer necessary.
- Gauze is a vehicle by which pressure can be applied. Gauze, itself, does not inherently stop or slow bleeding. Gauze allows you to easily apply focused pressure in your mouth to the area that is bleeding. In order for gauze to apply effective pressure you should fold the gauze ~ 4 times to the size of a quarter such that it is a tight wad. Place this directly over the area of bleeding and apply pressure. Pressure can be applied in two ways in your mouth. The most common and convenient is by biting on the gauze firmly. This requires a tooth opposing the area of bleeding. However, if there is not a tooth opposing the area of bleeding, biting may not be an effective way to apply pressure. If you are having a hard time applying pressure because you do not have an opposing tooth, you can use your thumb or index finger to press firmly on the gauze to create pressure. Regardless of how you apply the pressure, pressure must be applied constantly and firmly for up to 30 minutes. If you are having trouble stopping the bleeding, adhering strictly to these guidelines can help.
- Fold the gauze tightly and placed directly over the site of bleeding
- Hold firm, constant pressure for 30 minutes by biting or with a finger/thumb
- Look at the clock when you start to time 30 minutes, this may feel like a long time
- During this 30 minutes of applied pressure do not drink, spit, eat, or talk as this will break the period of constant pressure and restart the clock.
If, despite trying the above measures, significant bleeding persists please call our office at 650-342-0213
to reach the doctor on call or seek urgent medical attention at the nearest emergency department.
Diet – While You are Numb
For the first few hours after returning home your lips will still be numb from the local anesthesia given during surgery. While your lips and tongue are numb it is safe to eat and drink, but best to not chew to avoid inadvertent injury when accidently biting your lip or tongue. Examples of foods you can eat without chewing include any liquid, smoothies, milk-shakes, ice cream, yogurt, creamy soups etc.
Diet – After the Numbness Wears Off
Numbness of the lips and tongue may persist through the first evening. Once the numbness wears off, we still want to protect the grafted site. In order to do so we recommend chewing soft foods away from the area where the graft was performed for at least 2 weeks. After 2 weeks the graft should be more integrated, and you do not to be as purposeful about only chewing away from the grafted side. However, many people will still prefer to chew on the opposite side because they are missing a tooth in the grafted area.
Stay Plates, Flippers, and Temporary Prostheses:
It is very important that these temporary devices do not put pressure on the grafted area when worn, or they will quickly destroy the graft. Often, immediately after the grafting procedure the area is slightly swollen and the temporary prosthesis might put additional pressure on the graft. If this is the case, the prosthesis will need to be adjusted or used only sparingly for the first week. Do not wear the prosthesis until your surgeon or dentist has checked to make sure that it is not impinging on the grafted site.
Starting tomorrow you will gentle rinse with a topical antibiotic mouth rinse called Peridex twice a day, after you brush your teeth.
You will also have a prescription for several days of antibiotic pills. After you pick these up at the pharmacy take them as directed on the bottle until they are gone.
Sutures and Sealer
Sutures and a sealer has been placed over the graft to help stabilize it during the initial healing phase. The sealer and the sutures are designed to fall away after 3-6 days, but if they are still present at your post operative appointment your surgeon will trim them away. The sealer will feel like a plastic scab over the grafted area. During the first week of healing do your best to leave it alone and try not to play with it with your tongue. Often the sutures or sealer will come out when you are eating and you may swallow it, that is not a problem.
Mild activity is fine on the day after your extraction; see how you feel but don’t push yourself.
It is important to resume your normal dental routine after 24 hours. This should include brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day. However, be gentle around the grafted site and do not brush the site directly. The surgical site heals best next to clean teeth.
Smoking has been proven to directly decrease the rate sinus grafting success. You have invested a lot into your graft, avoid smoking to give it the best chance for success.
For your safety
Do not drive or operate dangerous machinery while taking prescription pain medication, oxycodone.
If you develop hives or a rash, discontinue all medications and immediately contact our office.
At your extraction and grafting appointment, we will schedule you a follow up visit for approximately one week following your procedure. At this visit we will check the healing, remove the sutures or sealant if necessary and answer any questions that you may have regarding next steps towards a dental implant.
Telephone Support 24/7 – 650-342-0213
Post-surgical follow-up is an important part of your care. We want you to have a successful and comfortable recovery. Please call the office if you have any questions or concerns about your procedure or postoperative healing.