Sometimes, after minor oral surgery, you may have pain, bleeding and swelling. This section offers some advice on dealing with these problems.
If you have any of the following problems after oral surgery, call our office right away:
- if you are bleeding a lot and it has been four hours, or longer, since your surgery
- if you have the feeling that you are going to throw up (nausea)
- if you are throwing up (vomiting)
- if you have a fever
- if you have pain that does not get any better, and it has been one full day (or longer) since your surgery
- if your swelling is still getting worse, and it has been two days (or longer) since your surgery
Our office will tell you exactly what to do.
Easing the pain
At our office we will give you "freezing" (or local anesthetic) to numb the area of your mouth that will be treated.
The length of time your mouth stays numb will depend on the type of freezing (or anesthetic), and on how much we give you. When your mouth is numb, be careful not to bite your cheek, lip or tongue. The numbness should go away within 3 or 4 hours.
Some pain is normal after the numbness wears off. You will have the most pain in the first 24 to 48 hours after your surgery. Some soreness or discomfort at the site of the surgery may last for three to five days. The amount of discomfort depends on the kind of surgery you have, how healthy you are in general and how active you are.
If you are up and about, you may feel more discomfort. It's best to rest. We may prescribe pain killers to dull the pain. This type of medicine is called an analgesic. We may also prescribe medicine to help prevent infection. This is called an antibiotic.
What to do
- Tell us about any other prescription medicines you are taking.
- Follow our advice and your pharmacist when taking medicines.
- Call our office if the pain does not get any better within 24 hours.
What not to do
- Do not take more medicine than advised.
- Do not drink alcohol when taking pain killers.
- Do not drive or use machines if you are taking narcotic painkillers. Our office or pharmacist will tell you if your pain medicine is a narcotic.
Stopping the bleeding
We will use a gauze pad to cut down on the amount of bleeding while the blood clots. This gauze pad should be left in place for 30 minutes after leaving our office. Press firmly on the pad with your teeth, but do not chew on it.
You may bleed a little for the first one to two hours after surgery. The area may continue to ooze for up to 24 hours. Do not be alarmed if it looks like you are bleeding a lot. Blood and saliva mix together in your mouth and make it look like you are bleeding more than you really are. After four hours, if you cannot control the bleeding by pressing firmly on the gauze pad, call our office.
What to do
- Keep firm and constant pressure on the wound by putting a gauze pad over the area, and by closing your teeth firmly on the pad. Leave the pad in place for an hour, no matter how soggy it becomes. Don't open or close your mouth or chew on it. Talk with your teeth closed.
- If you are still bleeding after 30 minutes, put a new gauze pad on the area.
- Put firm and constant pressure on the area for another 30 minutes or so.
- After the bleeding has stopped do not rinse your mouth out for the rest of the day.
- Rest and keep your head raised. Rest slows down the flow (or circulation) of blood, which helps stop the bleeding and helps you heal faster.
- Brush and floss your teeth as usual, but avoid the wound and use only a little bit of water.
- Before you go to sleep place a towel on your pillow in case you ooze blood during sleep.
- The next day after surgery, rinse your mouth gently with warm water or mouthwash. Don't use salt water as the taste is awful. Rinse four or five times a day, for three to four days.
What not to do
- Do not rinse your mouth during the first day of surgery, even if the bleeding and oozing leave a bad taste in your mouth.
- Do not chew on the gauze pad or suck on the wound.
- Do not strain yourself for two full days after your surgery.
- Do not drive or use machines if you are taking narcotic painkillers.
- Avoid hot liquids like coffee and tea. If you eat soup, let it cool first. Hot liquids increase the flow (or circulation) of blood, and your mouth can start to bleed again.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco for the first two weeks after surgery. They make it harder for the blood to clot, easier for an infection to start, and they delay healing.
- Do not use a straw while drinking as the clot may open
Keeping the swelling down
Your face may swell in the first 24 hours after oral surgery. The swelling may last for five to seven days. Once the swelling starts to go down, your face may bruise. The bruising could last for up to 10 days after your surgery.
What to do
- On the first day after surgery, put a cold compress on the swollen area. To make a cold compress, wrap ice cubes in a moist towel, or use a bag of frozen vegetables such as peas again over a moist towel. The moist towel will protect your skin from frostbite.
- Keep the cold compress there for 10 minutes. Take it off for 10 minutes, then put it back on for another 10 minutes.
- Repeat this procedure over and over again for the first 24 hours after surgery.
- On the second day after surgery, put something warm on the swollen area, like a hot water bottle or a heating pad wrapped in a moist towel. The warmth will increase blood flow (or circulation) and decrease swelling. Do not use anything hot enough to burn your skin.
- Call our office if the swelling keeps getting worse 48 hours after surgery, or if the swelling does not go down within seven days after surgery.
What not do do
- Do not apply heat to the swollen area in the first 24 hours after surgery as it will only make the swelling worse.
Relieving a sore jaw
After surgery, your jaw muscles may be sore and it may be hard to open your mouth for up to seven to 10 days. Your jaw muscles may have become stiff and sore from holding your mouth open during surgery.
What to do
- If your jaw muscles are not too sore, massage them gently with a warm, moist facecloth.
- Eat foods that are easy to chew such as eggs, pasta and bananas. Have drinks like milk shakes, milk and juices.
- Call your dentist or oral surgeon if, after 7 to 10 days, your jaw muscles are still tender or if your mouth is still hard to open.
What not to do
- Do not force your mouth open.
- Do not chew gum or eat hard or chewy foods.
- Do not have drinks like coffee and tea.