Swelling---this is a normal response to surgery and swelling may increase from 24 to 72 hours after surgery. Place ice to the cheek areas as soon as possible following surgery and continue for six to eight hours; 15 minutes on and 5 to ten minutes off. The application of warm moist compresses after 48 hours will promote reduction of the swelling and promote healing as well. There may be some discoloration of the skin and bruising for a few days following surgery.
Bleeding---oozing of blood is normal and can be expected for several hours following surgery. Biting on gauze for a few hours after surgery will apply pressure and allow a blood clot to form in the surgery area. Fold the gauze pad, place it directly over the area, and bite down for about 30 minutes. If bleeding continues fold a new piece of gauze, replace the old one, and bite for an additional 30-60 minutes. Repeat these steps as necessary. Slight bleeding, especially after eating or brushing teeth, may continue for a few days following surgery. Avoid spitting for at least 24 hours after surgery because this may actually interfere with the blood clot and increase the tendency to bleed. Also, avoid vigorous activity and exercise for at least three days due to possible increase in blood pressure, and thus an increase in bleeding as well. Persistent bleeding may be controlled by biting on a moist tea bag wrapped in gauze.
Pain and Medications---pain in the area of surgery is normal for a few days following surgery, and may even continue for several days depending upon the difficulty of the surgery, a patient’s response to pain, and tolerance to the pain medications. A prescription is sometimes written for pain medication and given to the patient for periodic use during the immediate post-operative period. Smoking and other use of tobacco products will cause an increase in pain. If a prescription pain medication is prescribed, while under the influence of these pain relievers, rest and inactivity is the recommendation. Over the counter pain medications such as Tylenol, Motrin, Advil, Aspirin, etc. can also be used to aid in the relief of pain after surgery.
Oral Hygiene---It is important to maintain oral hygiene so that the wounds will heal properly and not become infected. You may begin rinsing and warm salt water the day following surgery, especially after each meal and prior to bedtime. The teeth should be brushed routinely using a soft toothbrush. Avoid use of water piks and other pressure devices, and smokers are cautioned not to smoke for 5-7 days after surgery.
Dietary Considerations---During the healing process after surgery, your jaw may be sore and it may not open as wide as usual. For the first two post-operative days eat only soft foods and drink plenty of fluids(without a straw). Avoid eating hard foods and things that are difficult to chew, and avoid foods that have small seeds that may get stuck in the surgery sites. Suggested diet includes yogurt, applesauce, pudding, mashed potatoes, ice cream, pasta, soups, etc.