Oral Surgery FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions about Oral Surgery
Click on the image to your right to download instructions for care following oral surgery. Topics include what to eat, how to keep your mouth clean, how to manage nausea, and what to expect as you heal from your procedure.
Click the links below to view the FAQ you are looking for
- Discomfort and Swelling
- Wisdom Teeth & Other Extractions
- Dental Implants
- Bone Grafting
When can I eat?
You may eat as soon as you get home.
What kind of food can I eat?
For a few days following oral surgery, a soft food diet is best. That means avoiding nuts, chips and other foods that are sharp and/or difficult to chew.
Instead, stick with things like scrambled eggs, soup, cottage cheese, ﬂaky fish, macaroni and cheese, etc. As you become comfortable chewing again, you can gradually shift back to eating more solid food.
Can I drink out of a straw?
Yes, it is perfectly fine to drink through a straw. However, if you’re having something thick and delicious like a smoothie or milkshake, it is probably best to use a spoon.
When should I start taking my medications?
Once you get home take the pain medication with food or juice.
Do I need to take the antibiotics?
When indicated, antibiotics will be prescribed to minimize the risk of infection, so it is to your benefit to take them. If you have a history of complications with antibiotic use such as diarrhea or yeast infections, please discuss your situation with Dr. Hooe or our staff.
Why is the medication making me nauseated?
Medications affect everyone differently. Taking your medications with food and / or at least 8oz of water will help prevent nausea. Nausea is a well known complication of narcotic medications. In the majority of cases, opiates (Vicodin, Percocet, Tylenol #3, etc.) will be the culprit when a patient is feeling nauseated. Take as little opiate pain reliever as necessary to take the edge off.
Discomfort is normal after any type of surgery; the amount experienced varies greatly from person to person and depending upon procedure. Even patients with an identical procedure on different sides of the mouth (the extraction of two lower wisdom teeth, for example) may not have the same discomfort on both sides.
So, while you may feel discomfort, this does not necessarily mean that something is wrong. In general, the longer or more difficult a procedure, the more discomfort that can be expected. It’s common for pain(s) to come and go for a week following surgery.
In the beginning, we recommend that you be proactive about managing discomfort. Take the first dose of pain medication before the local anesthesia wears off. You may start with something over the counter (e.g., Aleve, Motrin); prescription narcotics are not always necessary.
If you do take prescription pain medication, do so only when necessary and do not exceed the amount written on the bottle. As time goes by and healing progresses, discomfort always decreases.
All that said, if you experience a steady increase in pain, and medications are not effective, it’s always best to give us a call.
Unfortunately, surgery and swelling go hand in hand. How much swelling should I expect? It’s hard to say – there’s a lot of variation from person to person. When it does occur, it usually starts slowly following surgery and increases for three to four days thereafter.
To help reduce swelling, simply place an ice pack on your face overlying the area where your surgery took place. You’ll find ice packs to be most effective if used immediately after your procedure, and off and on throughout the first day. Apply ice packs in 20-minute intervals with breaks of about 10 minutes in between.
Occasionally, swelling can be accompanied by bruising, especially around the lower jaw. Fortunately, after the first four days, your swelling will gradually go away, with most of it gone after 10 days.
I just saw my dentist. Why do I need another consult if I just saw my dentist?
If your planned procedure involves a single extraction or other simple procedure, a consult visit will likely not be required. For more involved procedures, a consultation is needed because this will be the first time Dr. Hooe will be assessing your situation. He needs to review your medical history, dental history, x-rays, and other information to make his own clinical diagnosis before any treatment is done.
When are the holes going to close up?
Gum tissue will eventually close up within 7 10 days and then smooth itself out over the next 3 4 weeks. However everyone is different when it comes to healing.
What is dry socket?
“Dry socket” occurs when an extraction site is not able to maintain a blood clot. This results in exposure of the underlying bone. Nerve endings become inflamed, leading to a persistent, throbbing discomfort.
In normal extraction site healing, the blood clot stays in place long enough to nourish and protect the socket until the next phase of healing is underway. So dry socket simply means that the clot has been lost prematurely.
Dry socket is a temporary condition, however treatments for it are limited and occasionally require additional surgery. Smoking is the most common cause of dry socket (one more reason not to smoke!).
Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed?
When someone has pain associated with their wisdom teeth, the reasons for removal are pretty clear. Often, however, wisdom teeth are recommended for removal when there are no symptoms. There are a number of reasons for this, all related to oral and overall health. More specifically:
- Many studies confirm that wisdom teeth are associated with “deep pocketing” of the gum tissue, a condition that can harbor bacteria, lead to chronic inflammation and release byproducts into the bloodstream that are strongly linked to cardiovascular disease.
- As the pockets around a tooth deepen, food particles become trapped and the bacteria thrive. This leads to bad breath, tooth decay, and further weakening of the surrounding bone. The molar in front of the wisdom tooth can suffer irreparable harm.
When is the best time to have wisdom teeth removed?
Usually, the best time is before they are fully formed. In most patients, that means between the ages of 16 and 21, when the roots are short, the surrounding bone is soft, and the surrounding gum tissue is likelier to be healthier.
Under these conditions, very little force is required to remove the tooth and healing tends to be both rapid and comfortable, with fewer complications.
How long do I have to wait to get a tooth on my implant?
Often, a temporary tooth that has little or no biting pressure can be placed on the implant during the healing period. Before a final tooth is placed on your dental implant, you’ll need to wait until the bone heals; the time required varies by individual (it’s largely a function of bone density). Generally, it’s best to wait up to two months for the lower jaw (dense bone) and up to four months for the upper jaw (soft bone).
Tissue has grown over my implant, is that ok?
Sometimes this happens. We will do a simple procedure to fully uncover your implant, removing unnecessary tissue.
A screw came off my implant what should I do?
The screw that came off is the “healing collar.” This is not an emergency, but we would like to see you as soon as possible to put it back on.
What kind of material do you use?
For small bone grafts, such as filling in a tooth socket, commercially available bone graft material is often preferred (this is identical to what’s used in orthopedic and other surgical specialties). Your own bone, taken from another site, is sometimes the best choice.
Is the artificial bone material safe to use?
Absolutely. Commercially available bone graft material goes through a stringent preparation process. All cellular material and proteins are removed from the bone with only the mineral component left behind. The processed bone is then freeze-dried and packaged for use.
I had bone grafting done and I see some coming out, is that ok?
As your surgical site is healing, tiny bits of the grafting material may work their way out. This is a normal part of the healing process.
How long will it take for the results to come in?
We usually get the results within10 days of your biopsy procedure. All of our biopsies are reviewed by a specialist in Oral Pathology at the University of Washington.
Will my insurance cover this procedure?
It all depends on your insurance.
I received a bill from the pathology lab why is that?
Biopsy specimens are sent to the University of Washington Oral Pathology lab. Once there, the specimen is processed and reviewed by a dentist specializing in Oral Pathology. The charges from the University are separate from ours.
Am I going to feel nauseated when I wake up?
Nausea following office anesthesia is very rare. We find that most cases of nausea begin at home and are related to narcotic pain mediation. We routinely give anti-nausea medication with your IV anesthesia and this will help combat nausea during the first 12 hours or so.
What if I wake up during anesthesia?
During your procedure, we constantly monitor the status of your awareness. When indicated, we give a constant stream of anesthetic medication at a precise dose (known as an “infusion”) through a microprocessor-controlled pump. These advanced anesthesia techniques assure a safe and effective level of anesthesia for the duration of your procedure.