Post-Operative Instructions

Medications and Discomfort     

The average patient will experience some discomfort following periodontal treatment. It is more comfortable to take pain medication before all numbness from treatment wears off.  INSTRUCTIONS WILL BE PROVIDED TO YOU BY YOUR DOCTOR OR ONE OF THEIR SURGICAL ASSISTANTS. Some pain medications may cause drowsiness and therefore may alter your working or driving ability. If antibiotics are necessary, be sure to finish the prescription on the schedule as prescribed. Should you experience any unpleasant effects while taking the antibiotic (i.e., nausea, a rash or itching), please call us.


It is not unusual to have some swelling and/or discoloration in the treatment area. To minimize this swelling, place ice on your face for 20 minutes and then remove it (and refreeze it) for 20 minutes beginning on the day of surgery. Continue alternating ice packs on and off for the remainder of the day. In order to achieve the maximum benefit of ice, it must be applied immediately after treatment. We will provide you with a frozen gel pack in the office for your ride home. Sleeping on one or two extra pillows the first few nights will keep your head slightly elevated and will also help minimize swelling and bruising.

After 48 hours, moist heat can be used on the treatment site by microwaving the gel pack(CAREFUL NOT TO OVERHEAT PACK AND/OR BURN YOUR SELF) and placing it on your face using the same 20 minute interval. Swelling increases the first 2-3 days, and it is typically at a maximum on the third day following a procedure. If any treatment has been performed on the lower jaw, it is possible that you may experience a sore throat. It is not unusual and there is no cause for alarm. Remember, swelling does not mean infection. If swelling subsides, but then reoccurs please contact the office immediately.


Don’t be concerned if you notice traces of blood in your saliva for several hours after your procedure. We recommend patients protect their pillows, as saliva and blood can damage your sheets. This is normal and not a cause for alarm. Avoid eating or drinking any hot foods or hot beverages for the remainder of the day following your procedure; heat can cause bleeding to start or increase. If bleeding is free flowing or excessive, hold a folded gauze or moist tea bag over the area for a minimum of thirty minutes with firm pressure. Repeat if necessary. If after 45 minutes bleeding continues, please contact the office immediately.


Do not spit, rinse or use a straw on the day of surgery as this could cause active bleeding. Beginning the day after treatment and continuing for the next one to two weeks, please rinse with warm salt water (a pinch of salt in 8oz. of warm water) four to six times a day, especially after every meal. The use of a prescribed mouth rinse may begin the morning after treatment.


Do not lift or pull out your lips to inspect the treatment site since this may disturb the sutures. As dissolvable sutures are frequently used, do not be concerned if the sutures appear loose or fall out after several days. Sutures that remain will be removed at your post operative appointment(s).

Palatal Stent

If your treatment involved a gingival graft, we may have made a stent to cover the donor site/palate (roof of mouth). Leave the stent in place for 24 hours following the procedure. During this time determining whether the stent is comfortable or not is crucial. If the stent is comfortable for the next three days the stent should be removed only during your recommended salt water rinsing. After this time, the stent may be worn as needed for comfort and removed for cleaning. Most patients find the stent to be helpful while eating and sleeping during the first week post-treatment. The stent is optional it is not necessary to wear particularly if you do not find that it is comfortable.

Oral Hygiene

We suggest that you maintain as high a level of oral hygiene as possible in all areas with the exception of your surgical site. You can clean the chewing surfaces of the teeth only in the surgical area with a soft brush. Do not floss the area for 7-10 days. At your first post­operative appointment, we will clean the treatment area for you and give further oral hygiene instruction. Your teeth may experience some sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweets. These symptoms may slowly diminish, and good oral hygiene will help sensitivity subside faster.

Smoking and Alcohol

Do not consume alcohol or use tobacco product for the first few days following your procedure since this may delay the healing process. Smoking increases the risk of tooth sensitivity, infection, and less optimal surgical results. Alcohol can cause an adverse reaction with medications provided to assist in healing and discomfort.

Activity/Returning to Work/School

Refrain from any physical activity the day of your treatment. If a sedative was provided, it is recommended that you stay home the day of your procedure under the supervision of a family member or friend. Each procedure performed is unique to each patient, and our highly trained clinical staff will be able to provide you with what to expect during your particular postoperative course, so as to allow you to make an informed decision regarding your schedule following your procedure. It would be preferable to have a “light day” the first day after treatment. Always, let your good judgment be your guide.