backup og meta
Health Screening
Ask Doctor

Dental Surgery: How to Prepare and What to Expect

Medically reviewed by Grazielle Millo-Paderes, DDM, MSc · Dentistry · Unihealth-Parañaque Hospital and Medical Center

Written by Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD · Updated Oct 26, 2021

Dental Surgery: How to Prepare and What to Expect

While we should never judge a book by its cover, how we look can reveal things about ourselves within a few minutes. With that being said, our smile is often one of the most memorable things when we meet someone new. A set of pearly whites is more than an asset, it’s also a reflection of our health. Unfortunately, dental health is often neglected or considered purely cosmetic. When you don’t take care of your oral health, you may find yourself with a bad toothache that requires dental surgery. For first-timers, here’s what to expect during the procedure and how you should prepare for it.

dental surgery

Reasons for dental surgery

There are many reasons that people need to undergo dental surgery. Some of the most common procedures include root canal treatments, impacted wisdom teeth, and dental implants.

Additional reasons for surgery include jaw bone problems, reconstruction, or even tumor removal. Investing in your oral health not only improves how you look but can even reduce the risk of serious infections that can damage your heart, lungs, and overall health.

What to expect

Before the procedure

Firstly, you can expect that your mouth will hurt until you get treatment. (Sometimes, the infected tooth doesn’t hurt because it is already necrotic/dead. However, there may be abscess formation and/or swelling.) The longer you put it off, the worse you will feel. Therefore, it is important to contact a dentist as soon as you feel any oral pain or notice symptoms such as bad breath or bleeding.

After making an appointment with a dentist, you can expect an examination similar to a doctor’s visit. They will ask you questions about what you are feeling and seeing, and how long you have been experiencing them. In addition, be prepared to disclose information about previous surgeries, allergies, and current medications you are taking as well as medical conditions you have.

Next, depending on the dental diagnosis, you may be required to get an x-ray done or other imaging studies. This is done to determine how extensive the damage is and to guide the dental surgeon. If there is an infection of the tooth or gums, treatment may require both surgery and antibiotics.

During the procedure

On the day of your dental surgery, you will be given anesthesia. Depending on the procedure being done, you may receive general anesthesia or local anesthesia. General anesthetics are typically administered via inhaled gas or block injection directly into the mouth. These types of anesthesia will “put you under,” which means you will not be conscious or feel anything throughout the procedure.

However, most dentists prefer to administer local anesthesia via IV injection as there are fewer side effects and risks. This type of anesthesia will be injected near the area that will be operated on. You will remain awake but you will not feel any pain in your mouth. The anesthesia may still cause numbness after the procedure is done, which may cause you to drool or have slurred speech until it wears off.

After the procedure

Dental surgery typically does not take as long as more invasive surgeries of the body. Because the mouth and gums are highly vascularized and sensitive, you can expect some bleeding and pain for several days after the surgery. Depending on the procedure, your dentist may place stitches or pack the wound with cotton to control bleeding.

You will likely be prescribed pain-relievers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, or mefenamic acid. Both branded and generic medications are acceptable. In some cases, stronger pain medications or antibiotics will be prescribed.

In addition to taking medications, you will need to adjust your diet for some time. Generally, this is a soft or liquid-based diet. This is to prevent the need for chewing, which can disturb healing.

Avoid hard or chewy food (e.g. caramel, gum, popcorn), especially after a dental implant as this can dislodge the implant.

Lastly, you should avoid smoking or drinking through straws after a dental procedure. This is because this may cause the blood clot to dislodge

dental surgery

How to prepare for your dental surgery

If you have previously had surgery done on other parts of your body, you already know that there are things you can and can’t do before the procedure. Oftentimes, doctors tell patients not to eat or drink anything except plain water at least 8 hours before their scheduled surgery. Additionally, you may need to stop taking certain medications.

In the case of dental surgery, your dentist may recommend stopping taking medications such as NSAIDs and blood thinners. This is to prevent excessive blood loss during the procedure. However, this is not necessary for all patients. Your dentist and physician should consult with one another to determine if your medications should be stopped.

Because you will likely need to be on a temporary soft diet after dental surgery, feel free to eat your favorite food before the scheduled procedure. This is a perfect excuse for a cheat day. However, remember that you may need to fast several hours beforehand. Ask your dentist to clarify if this is necessary for your procedure.

Lastly, try to get a good night’s sleep and be positive. Many people tend to get nervous or anxious before a trip to the dentist’s office, especially children. Know that you won’t feel any pain while undergoing dental surgery and the procedure will improve your health. Bring a friend or family member that can give you moral support and assist you after the procedure.

Key Takeaways

In summary, dental surgery can be just as daunting as any other surgical procedure. However, understanding what to expect and how to prepare for it can make it less stressful. Talk to your dentist if you have any questions or concerns regarding dental surgery.

Learn more about Other Oral Issues here. 


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Grazielle Millo-Paderes, DDM, MSc

Dentistry · Unihealth-Parañaque Hospital and Medical Center

Written by Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD · Updated Oct 26, 2021

ad iconadvertisement

Was this article helpful?

ad iconadvertisement
ad iconadvertisement