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Surgery to the mouth and jaws: post-operative advice

Patient information A-Z

After treatment

After surgery, your mouth will be numb for some time until the local anaesthetic wears off. Therefore, you should avoid hot drinks and food for at least six hours. Once the anaesthetic has worn off, you may experience some discomfort, swelling and bruising. This normally starts to resolve after a few days. It is advisable to take some painkillers (see below) before the anaesthetic wears off.

Oral hygiene

It is very important to keep your mouth as clean as possible, as this will help prevent infection. It is advisable to avoid rinsing your mouth for the remainder of the day after surgery as this may dislodge the healing clot and make the wound bleed. The day after treatment, start using a medicated mouthwash, for example Corsodyl, and warm/ hot salty water mouth baths. The mouthwash should be used after careful tooth brushing three times a day and the warm salt water mouth baths five times a day, for five minutes each time, for at least five days. You should also gently rinse after eating and last thing at night.


If you are prescribed antibiotics after treatment, it is important to take them as directed and to finish the course, unless there are any unexpected reactions, in which case, contact this department (contact information below), your GP or your dentist.

Pain control

Usually, it is only necessary to take simple painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (Nurofen), following treatment. It is best to take these on a regular basis for the first 24 to 48 hours. You may take ibuprofen between the recommended doses of paracetamol, however, do not exceed the maximum dose for each.


A small amount of bleeding and oozing from the wound is normal, and to be expected, for a few days after treatment. If there is persistent bleeding, roll up a clean handkerchief and place it over the socket/ wound and bite or press firmly for 20 minutes. This will usually stop the bleeding.


The surgery may require sutures (stitches) in the mouth which are usually resorbable and dissolve after about 10 days to two weeks.

Smoking and exercise

Avoid smoking – it impairs wound healing and is associated with infection. We recommend you do not smoke for a couple of weeks at least after surgery. Also, avoid undertaking any strenuous activity for 24 hours after treatment.

Contact information

If you have problems, or simply require advice, you may contact:

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151