K&W Dental
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Post-Op Instructions for Root Canal Surgery (Apicoectomy)

These instructions apply to the surgical procedure just completed. They are designed to help you minimize post-surgical discomfort and inform you of any situation that may require special attention.

Pain Medications

It is possible to have discomfort for at least the first week following your surgical procedure. You will be given a prescription for medication to help you tolerate the post-surgical recovery period. Please take your medications as directed. It is advisable to not take pain medication on an empty stomach, as nausea may result.  Please keep taking this medication regularly to help control swelling.  If you are unable to take ibuprofen, you may substitute Tylenol Extra Strength for this regular regimen.  In some cases, narcotic pain medication may be prescribed; please do not drive or operate heavy machinery while you are on narcotic pain medication.


Please alert the office to any allergies or sensitivities that you might have to antibiotics. An antibiotic may be prescribed following your surgical procedure. Take as directed until gone. It is advisable not to take these medications on an empty stomach, as nausea may result. For women taking birth control pills, be advised that antibiotics may interfere with their effectiveness.


Swelling may occur following your surgical procedure and typically peaks approximately 2-3 days after the procedure. To minimize the swelling please follow these recommendations:

  • Do not exercise during the first 2-3 days after the procedure.

  • Elevate your head when lying down (use an extra pillow when sleeping) for the first 2-3 days.

  • Apply an ice pack to your cheek every 15 minutes followed by a 15 minute break.  Continue using ice for 2 days following the procedure as often as possible.

  • You can place ice cubes inside the mouth as well, but do not suck on them, simply leave them in the mouth.


A small amount of bleeding is normal for up to 3-5 days. If excessive or continuous bleeding occurs:

  • Do not rinse your mouth.

  • Elevate your head when lying down.

  • Apply moistened gauze to the immediate area with moderate pressure for 30 minutes; repeat if necessary.

  • Enclose a moistened tea bag in a gauze square and apply pressure for 30 minutes.

  • Call the office if bleeding persists.


Avoid chewing on the side where surgery was completed until approved by the doctor.  Hot foods should be avoided and a soft diet is recommended. Foods such as cottage cheese, oatmeal, soup, eggs, yogurt, pasta, mashed potatoes, casseroles, steamed fish, etc are more easily eaten. Remember, adequate nutrition is essential for feeling better as well as for healing.


Do not smoke for at least 3-4 days following your surgical procedure. It will significantly slow healing and can compromise results.


Do not drink alcohol while taking prescription pain medications.


Our office recommends that you rinse during the first 2 weeks after your surgery with the prescription mouth rinse, chlorhexidine antiseptic, very gently starting 48 hours after the procedure twice daily until the 2-week time-point.  Warm salt water rinse can be used throughout the day up to 5 times per day (Half to one teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of water).


Do not brush the surgical site for 2 weeks. The mouth rinse should be able to keep the area relatively clean.  You may resume normal brushing/flossing in other areas the following day.  We know that you are anxious to see the results of your surgery, but please do not forcibly pull your lips or cheeks away to inspect the surgical site. This action could possibly tear your sutures or worse, cause an infection

Post-Operative Evaluation and Suture Removal

In order to evaluate your progress and healing, we typically see patients at 2 weeks post-operatively for a brief suture removal and post-operative evaluation.

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