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Post-Operative Instructions

Commonly asked questions following oral surgery:

What is a dry socket?

  • A dry socket is a healing problem. When the blood clot gets dislodged prematurely from the tooth socket or does not expand to fill the socket the bone is left exposed. Exposed bone means raw nerve endings. They will cause pain until they are covered over by a healing blood clot.
  • A dry socket is different from an infection. Therefore, antibiotics alone may not help a dry socket.
  • Symptoms of pain at the surgical site and even pain referred to the ear may occur 3-4 days following surgery without increased swelling or increased temperature are classic.
  • There is a much higher incidence of dry sockets in smokers because smoking retards healing of all wounds. No smoking for 48 hours following surgery. If you have any pain requiring even one Tylenol or Aspirin to treat, expect that it will get much worse if you smoke due to diminished healing.
  • If these symptoms occur you should call the office for evaluation and treatment by the doctor.

What are the warning signs of an infection?

  • Bright red, rock hard swelling on the surface over a surgical site that is increasing rather than declining at 3-4 days after surgery
  • Elevated temperature >101F
  • Increased pain after 3-4 days that is not controlled by Ibuprofen
  • Pus draining from the surgery site accompanied by a sour or salty taste in the mouth

What if my stitch comes loose or comes out?

  • Sutures are placed the area of surgery to minimize post-operative bleeding and to help healing. Sometimes they become dislodged; this is no cause for alarm. Just remove the suture from your mouth with a tweezers and discard it.
  • The remaining sutures will be removed approximately one week after surgery.
  • The removal of sutures requires no anesthesia or needles. It takes only a minute or so, and there is no discomfort associated with this procedure. So it’s really nothing to worry about.

What if I feel a rough edge with my tongue several days or weeks after surgery?

  • Occasionally, patients may feel hard projections in the mouth with their tongue in the area of surgery. They are not roots or parts of the tooth. They are the bony walls which supported the tooth in the jawbone (the walls of the tooth socket). We call this a spicuole.
  • Given enough time, these projections will smooth out spontaneously. You may not notice this for days to weeks after surgery.
  • If the rough edges bother your tongue or cheeks, call the office so Dr. Smith can evaluate the area and smooth them down for you.

What if my lower lip, chin or tongue feels numb several days after surgery?

  • If numbness of the lip, chin, or tongue occurs there is no cause for alarm. As stated before surgery, this is usually temporary in nature.
  • Just like stretching on the cheek causes swelling, stretching on the nerves within or next to the jaw causes swelling. A swollen nerve stops working for a while so the area it innervates feels numb.
  • The vast majority of patients with such numbness find it to resolve spontaneously slowly after surgery. It could take weeks to months to resolve but in rare cases it could linger indefinitely.
  • Since your lip or tongue is numb, be careful not to bite or burn it after surgery.
  • Call Dr. Smith if you have any questions about this.

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White Mountain Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in North Conway, NH