Post-operative instructions:
potential complications

Potential (infrequent) complications following oral surgical procedures


You should be careful when going from a lying down position to standing. You could get lightheaded or dizzy when you stand up suddenly. It is recommended that someone assist you for the first 24–48 hours when going from a lying position to standing. Rise slowly to a sitting position and sit for 1 minute before standing. Fluid and food intake is essential following surgery and when taking medications.


The most common type of infection following oral surgery is food entrapment, a secondary infection in which food gets trapped inside the socket. Most food will break down on its own, but on occasion, some food does not break down and becomes an excellent growth medium for bacteria. The onset of symptoms may begin anywhere from 2 weeks to several months following surgery. Common symptoms may include facial swelling, pain associated with drainage, and bad taste and/or odor. This type of infection is easily treated with antibiotics.


If you experience increased swelling after the fourth day following surgery, notify our office. Rarely, prolonged swelling can occur due to a hematoma or infection. Hematoma is bleeding into the tissues causing increased swelling and may feel firm to the touch. It may also be associated with discomfort and discoloration of the skin. Do not use heat on the affected area.


A dry socket can best be described as the loss or breakdown of the clot that forms in the socket following the extraction. If this occurs, the socket has lost its insulation and results in a throbbing sensation lasting beyond 3–4 days. Typically, a dry socket occurs between the third and fifth days following surgery. You may experience interrupted sleep, throbbing, headache, and possible ear pain. You may even feel the need to take your prescription pain medication. If any of these symptoms occur, please notify the office and schedule a time to be seen. Dry socket is easily treated in the office.


You can expect a normal amount of numbness following oral surgical procedures, and it is usually temporary in nature. However, on rare occasion, numbness can go beyond the normal course. If you should experience numbness lasting for more than 4 days, please notify our office for an evaluation. Sometimes the proximity of the nerve causes prolonged numbness. This is usually temporary in nature and can last for months or longer.


Occasionally, patients may feel hard projections in the mouth with their tongue. These are not roots but bony walls that support the tooth. Many of these resolve on their own within 12–14 days. If you have questions, please contact the office.


Stiffness of the jaw muscles may cause difficulty in opening your mouth for a few days following surgery. This is a normal course of healing and caused by the swelling between the muscle and the tissues. Please refer to your post-operative instructions for treatment to help relieve the muscle soreness, or call our office for advice.


Slight elevation of temperature is not uncommon immediately following surgery. If the temperature persists or rises over 100 degrees, please call the office.


The roots of the upper back teeth often extend into the sinus, and a communication of the mouth to the sinus may exist following extractions in these regions. The opening is usually temporary and closes as the extraction heals. If this should occur, you will be given specific instructions to follow after extraction.