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Dental surgery


Healing after surgery

Modern dental surgery involves the teeth themselves, their supporting tissues or any of the soft tissues within the mouth.

Healing usually occurs quickly without any complications. Problems may arise because the mouth is used for eating and speaking while healing is taking place.

Additionally, the mouth cannot be sterilized which means there is always a risk of infection of the wound.

The most common complications are pain, swelling, bleeding and infection. However, you can help yourself to prevent these complications by following a few simple rules.

Normal healing

Following the extraction, the effects of a local anaesthetic will last for several hours. Your mouth may feel swollen and uncomfortable during this time.

There may be slight bleeding which is just enough to discolour the saliva for up to 24-hours. These effects vary from person to person, however, there should be continued improvement until healing is complete.

Guidelines for care following an extraction

Perhaps the most important feature of the healing wound is the blood clot which seals the wound, prevents infection and aids in the formation of the new tissues.

You can assist if you:

  • Don’t rinse your mouth for the first four hours after the extraction. (This avoids washing away the blood clot, which may cause the wound to bleed again).
  • Don’t lie down flat. Rest, but keep your head elevated. (This decreases the risk of bleeding).
  • Don’t place fingers, pencils or any other objects in your mouth. (To avoid injury or infection).
  • Don’t bite or suck a numb lip, cheek or tongue while the local anaesthetic is still working—a nasty injury will occur.
  • Watch carefully that younger children do not suck or chew a numb lip, cheek or tongue.
  • Do avoid excessive activity for 24-hours. If the blood pressure is elevated, the wound may bleed.
  • Do avoid hot fluids, alcohol, smoking, hard or chewy foods.
  • Do eat soft nutritious foods such as soft-boiled eggs, pasta, soups, custards etc.
  • Do chew on the other side of your mouth.
  • Do rinse your mouth gently after meals. Half a teaspoon of table salt in a glass of lukewarm water is a good mouthwash.

Actions if problems occur


Afterwards you may expect some pain because the tissues have been disturbed during the procedure. Moderate pain can be controlled by paracetamol or a similar mild drug. Take this in the usual way and

never apply the drug directly to the wound itself. If the pain persists or worsens, you should contact the clinic where you were treated. In most instances, pain can be rapidly controlled.


Some swelling or difficulty in opening the mouth may occur, but it should begin to subside after a day or two. If swelling persists you should contact your doctor.


Continued pain, swelling or raised temperature may indicate infection. Infection may delay healing.Therefore, you should contact your doctor for advice.


Continued bleeding is not normal. The first action is to remove any excessive blood clots from the mouth, apply a rolled bandage or handkerchief to the wound and keep it in place under pressure by biting on it. Thecloth must be clean and should be dampened. Sit down and maintain the pressure for at least 10 minutes. If the bleeding cannot be stopped by this method please contact your treating doctor or closest hospital emergency department that treats children.

Emergency contact

To ensure your child receives the best possible care in an emergency, you should call 000 or go to your closest hospital that treats children.

If you have any concerns or questions please contact your doctor.

Mater Children’s Private Brisbane

Salmon Building,

Raymond Terrace,

South Brisbane QLD 4101

Telephone: 07 3163 8111



Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-470012
Last modified 09/8/2017.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 09/4/2015
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