Recovery After Oral Surgery

oral surgery recover
kumikomini/ Getty Images

Recovery should be your number one concern after oral surgery. Always follow the post-operative instructions provided by your surgeon or dentist to prevent any risk of infection or trauma to the surgical site. Follow these general guidelines after ​oral surgery for rapid recovery and optimum healing.

Bleeding After a Tooth Extraction

Bleeding after a tooth extraction is normal and slight bleeding may be noticed for up to 24 hours after surgery. Use the gauze that was provided to you, and bite down with firm pressure for one hour. You should remove the gauze gently. It may be necessary to take a sip of water to moisten the gauze if it feels stuck to the tissue. Doing this will prevent the bleeding from reoccurring.

If you continue to have bleeding in the surgical area, contact your dentist or surgeon.

Your dentist may instruct you to bite on a moist black tea bag. The tannic acid in the tea has been shown to reduce bleeding and assist with clotting.


Swelling is a normal response to various types of surgery. Keep your head elevated with pillows as mentioned above. You may use an ice pack on the outside of your face for the first 24 hours after oral surgery. Swelling is usually completely gone within 7 to 10 days after oral surgery. Stiffness in the muscles of the face is also normal and may be noticed for up to 10 days after oral surgery. You may see slight bruising, typically if the surgery involved your lower wisdom teeth.

If you have any concerns about swelling, or swelling has not reduced after 7 to 10 days, contact your doctor.

Pain After Oral Surgery and Medications

Pain after oral surgery varies depending on the extent of the procedure. Your dentist or surgeon will prescribe any necessary pain management medication. Follow the instructions for your medication carefully and always consult with your dentist or surgeon before taking any ​over-the-counter medications with your prescriptions. If you have been prescribed an antibiotic, always take all of the medication prescribed to you to prevent infection.

Rest and Recovery

Rest for at least 2 days after oral surgery. Physical activity is not recommended for 2 to 3 days after your surgery. Typically, you should be able to resume normal daily activities within 48 hours after surgery.

Oral Hygiene After Oral Surgery

Vigorous rinsing and spitting should be avoided for 24 hours. Brush gently and floss if ​you're able to open wide enough. Lightly rinse your mouth with water, avoiding mouthwash. Let the water fall out of your mouth on its own.

After 24 hours, consider rinsing with a saline or salt water solution. This will naturally help keep the surgical site clean, aiding in the healing process. Prepare your saline solution by placing 1 tablespoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water. Do not swallow the saline solution. Repeat this as necessary throughout the day.

If you have had an extraction, do not attempt to remove anything from the tooth socket (hole). Rinsing lightly will dislodge any food particles from the site.

Tobacco Use

Do not smoke for at least 24 hours after oral surgery. Smoking delays healing and may cause a very painful infection called a dry socket. This condition is a painful infection that will need to be treated by your dentist. Avoid the use of smokeless or chewing tobacco until complete healing has occurred. If you have had an extraction, the pieces from the tobacco may enter the extraction site, causing pain and discomfort in the socket.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sortino F, Cicciù M. Strategies used to inhibit postoperative swelling following removal of impacted lower third molarDent Res J (Isfahan). 2011;8(4):162–171. doi:10.4103/1735-3327.86031

  2. Pippi R. Post-Surgical Clinical Monitoring of Soft Tissue Wound Healing in Periodontal and Implant SurgeryInt J Med Sci. 2017;14(8):721–728. Published 2017 Jul 18. doi:10.7150/ijms.19727

  3. Kumbargere Nagraj S, Prashanti E, Aggarwal H, et al. Interventions for treating post-extraction bleedingCochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;3(3):CD011930. Published 2018 Mar 4. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD011930.pub3

  4. Renton T. Persistent Pain after Dental SurgeryRev Pain. 2011;5(1):8–17. doi:10.1177/204946371100500103

  5. Becker DE. Pain management: Part 1: Managing acute and postoperative dental painAnesth Prog. 2010;57(2):67–80. doi:10.2344/0003-3006-57.2.67

  6. Dar-Odeh NS, Abu-Hammad OA, Al-Omiri MK, Khraisat AS, Shehabi AA. Antibiotic prescribing practices by dentists: a reviewTher Clin Risk Manag. 2010;6:301–306. Published 2010 Jul 21. doi:10.2147/tcrm.s9736

  7. van der Meij E, van der Ploeg HP, van den Heuvel B, et al. Assessing pre- and postoperative activity levels with an accelerometer: a proof of concept studyBMC Surg. 2017;17(1):56. Published 2017 May 12. doi:10.1186/s12893-017-0223-0

  8. Taking Care of Your Teeth and Mouth. National Institute on Aging. Published June 1, 2016.

  9. Chhabra S, Chhabra N, Kaur A, Gupta N. Wound Healing Concepts in Clinical Practice of OMFSJ Maxillofac Oral Surg. 2017;16(4):403–423. doi:10.1007/s12663-016-0880-z

  10. Tarakji B, Saleh LA, Umair A, Azzeghaiby SN, Hanouneh S. Systemic review of dry socket: aetiology, treatment, and preventionJ Clin Diagn Res. 2015;9(4):ZE10–ZE13. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2015/12422.5840

  11. Muthukrishnan A, Warnakulasuriya S. Oral health consequences of smokeless tobacco useIndian J Med Res. 2018;148(1):35–40. doi:10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_1793_17

Additional Reading