Aftercare (following periodontal surgery)
What you should know
1. Discomfort and Medications
Periodontal surgery, like other surgical procedures, may be associated with varying degrees of discomfort. This depends on the procedure involved and individual differences. If pain medications have been prescribed, it is usually best to take the first dose while the surgical site is still anesthetized (“numb”).
All medications should be taken strictly as prescribed. Variations from the prescribed regimen can effect healing and the success of your procedure.
You may notice slight bleeding from the surgical site. This type of minor bleeding for the first 4 - 6 hours is not unusual. If at any time you notice the formation of large blood clots, or an obvious flow of blood—more than a slight ooze—get in touch with us immediately.
Sutures (“stitches”) are placed to hold the gum tissues in the proper position for ideal healing. Sutures will usually have to be removed approximately 1 - 2 weeks after the surgery. Do not disturb the sutures with your tongue or your toothbrush—or in any other manner: displacement will impair healing. If you notice that a suture has come out, or come loose, get in touch with us.
A periodontal dressing is often used to cover the surgical site for 1 - 2 weeks after a surgery. The dressing is placed around your teeth to protect the surgical area and should not be disturbed. If small pieces become lost, and you have no discomfort, there is no reason for concern. If large pieces break off or if the entire dressing becomes loose in the first two days, please get in touch.
For your comfort, and to protect the surgical area, a soft diet is recommended. Avoid chewing in the area of surgery. Avoid “sharp” foods (such as crisps and peanuts) since these may be uncomfortable and can dislodge the periodontal dressing. Also, avoid foods or liquids that are hot in temperature.
It is important to maintain a diet with normal caloric intake level, which is high in protein, minerals and vitamins, to support post-operative healing. Diet supplements can provide an excellent source of protein and other nutrients needed for healing. Other suggested soft foods include soups, eggs, fruits and vegetables that are puréed in a blender, and soft meals such as fresh fish and canned tuna. A “one-a-day” vitamin pill may also be taken to ensure adequate vitamin and mineral levels. Post-surgery is not the time to start a diet!
6. Oral Hygiene
Continue to brush and floss the teeth which were not involved in the surgery. The surgical area should not be disturbed for the first week after your operation. Please rinse with a mouth rinse as advised, to aid plaque control.
7. Physical Activity
Avoid strenuous activity during your immediate recovery period—usually 2 - 3 days.
Some slight swelling of the operated area is not unusual and may begin after the surgery. An ice pack may be used to minimize swelling. You should keep a towel-wrapped ice pack in contact with the skin as much as possible for the first 24 hours after surgery: a routine of “10 minutes on, 10 minutes off” is advised. If swelling occurs, it usually disappears after a few days, with peak swelling usually occurring 48 hours after your operation. You should get in touch with us immediately if there is any unusual or large swelling, or a marked rise in temperature.
All smoking should be stopped until after your sutures have been removed, in order to ensure the best healing. Healing results are significantly worse for smokers than for non-smokers.
All intake of alcohol should be stopped until after your sutures have been removed—and minimized for several days after that, to enhance healing.
11. Other “Do Not”s
For several days after your operation, do not spit, smoke, rinse hard, drink through a straw, create a “sucking” action in your mouth, or use an oral irrigating device.