Injuries, diseases, and defects that affect the teeth, gums, mouth, and jaws sometimes require oral surgery. Many oral surgeons provide corrective options to improve jaw health, remove wisdom teeth, repair broken or damaged teeth, and much more. These surgeries are often done on an outpatient basis meaning the patient is often responsible for her or his own care once the surgery is completed. While no two patients are the same, there are some common outcomes after oral surgeries, so what can you expect from oral surgery?
Oral surgery includes any procedure that requires cutting into or removing tissue from the mouth. Tooth removal, gum surgery, dental implants, removing diseased tissue from the mouth, repairing jaw problems, and treating a cleft palate are all examples of relatively common oral surgeries. These procedures are almost always performed by an oral surgeon, also called an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. These dentists have successfully completed post-graduate training in oral surgery. Afterwards you may have pain, bleeding, or swelling. These symptoms may be completely normal, or you may need to consult a dental professional.
Pain after oral surgery is normal, especially once your anaesthetic wears off. You’ll probably notice the highest levels of pain during the first 48 hours after surgery, after which your discomfort should begin to subside. Still, it is not abnormal to have some pain for 3 to 5 days after surgery. Your dentist or oral surgeon will probably prescribe an analgesic (pain medication) to help you manage the pain. You should take this medication exactly as instructed, and do not drink alcohol when taking this medication. Furthermore, if you have been giving narcotic medication, you may feel drowsy so you should not drive or operate heavy machinery. If pain does not improve 48 hours after surgery, consult your dentist or surgeon.
Bleeding is another common side effect of oral surgery, especially for the first couple hours after surgery. You may experience some oozing for up to 24 hours. As blood and saliva mix, you’ll get the impression that you are bleeding more than you actually are, but if bleeding cannot be controlled with a firm gauze press after 4 hours, consult your dentist or surgeon.
Facial swelling for the first 24 hours after oral surgery is normal, and some swelling may remain for up to a week. As the swelling starts to go down, you may also notice some bruising which is also normal and may last for up to 10 days. To manage swelling, use a cold compress on the swollen area the first day after surgery. Simply wrap ice cubes in a towel or grab a bag of frozen vegetables from the freezer. Apply the compress alternately for 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off for the first 24 hours (at least while you’re awake). On the second day, apply a warm compress to improve blood flow and circulation. This will help reduce swelling. DO NOT apply heat during the first 24 hours after surgery as this will only exacerbate swelling.