Concerns After A Procedure

Pain after a dental procedure can be moderate to severe. Surgery of any kind places a stress on your body. It is important to get adequate rest and avoid strenuous activity for a few days following a dental surgical procedure. Swelling, discomfort and restricted jaw function are expected and normal side effects, and need not cause alarm. These side effects can be minimized using the following instructions:

Swelling, bruising and pain

Swelling and bruising is common after certain dental procedures, particularly tooth removal (extraction) and implant surgery. Apply an ice pack to the side of the face/cheek 15 minutes on then 15 minutes off as often as possible to prevent much of the swelling. Ice therapy can be used for the first 24 hours. Bruising can vary from patient to patient, but should normally resolve within 7-14 days of surgery. If swelling persists or increases after 3 days or if pain is severe, an infection may have developed, and you should contact your dentist immediately.

Numbness

Your lips, teeth, tongue and cheek may be numb for several hours after a dental procedure. To avoid injury, we recommend that you avoid chewing food or drinking hot beverages until the numbness has worn off completely. It is very easy to bite, burn or injure your tongue, cheek or lip when you are numb. If numbness continues for more than a few hours, we recommend you contact our office immediately.

Bleeding

Biting on a moistened piece of gauze until the bleeding subsides is typically the most effective way to control bleeding. We recommend that you change the gauze as it becomes saturated and maintain pressure for 30 minutes. If bleeding persists for more than 2-3 hour after surgery, try keeping your head elevated and sitting up right. You may try some “home remedies” such as a moistened tea bag placed on the site for 30 minutes to help control the bleeding. Most problems with bleeding occur because the patient frequently removes the gauze to see whether the bleeding has stopped, resulting in additional trauma to the area. If consistent bleeding continues for more than a few hours, your dentist should be notified. The dentist may need to clean out the bleeding area and surgically close it with stitches. If you experience excessive bleeding, or you are in severe pain you should visit the dentist or an emergency room immediately.

Limited Opening

Jaw muscle stiffness with some limited opening of your mouth may occur after removal of teeth or a lengthy surgery. This is a normal response, and typically will improve 10-14 days after surgery. Use warm moistened towels to soothe your face for the first 24 hours after surgery to help improve and reduce this stiffness.

Sore Throat

This is not uncommon after oral surgery. The muscles get swollen and this may make swallowing painful. This should go away on its own in 2-3 days.

Dry Lips

If the corners of your mouth are stretched they may dry out and crack. Keep your lips moist with an ointment such as Vaseline.

Dry socket

A dry socket (exposure of the bone inside the socket of an extracted tooth) may develop after a tooth has been extracted and the normal blood clot necessary for healing has been lost. The blood clot that naturally develops inside the socket prevents the nerve from being exposed to air, temperature changes and other elements likely to cause pain. Typically, once the clot has been lost your dentist will need to clean the socket and re-pack it with gauze to protect the nerve. Most patients experience sharp pain with a dry socket, but your dentist can place a dressing soaked with an anesthetic in the socket to eliminate the discomfort. Patients may also take over the counter pain medications to help relieve the pain.

Dry sockets are relatively common, however there are actions you can take to help prevent their development

  • Avoid drinking from a straw
  • Refrain from smoking
  • Eat soft, nutritious, non-spicy food for the first few days after surgery
  • Do not brush around the surgical site
  • Gently rinse the site, but do not vigorously swish water around the extraction site as this can dislodge the clot


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