Oral Surgery FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions about Oral Surgery
Click on image 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?
Eat soft food such as oatmeal, soup, scrambled eggs, pudding, canned fruits, etc. Avoid eating hard and crunchy food that may cause discomfort in the surgery site and are more likely to become lodged within the healing tissues.
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 his 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, narcotics (Vicodin, Percocet, Tylenol #3, etc.) will be the culprit when a patient is feeling nauseated. Take as little narcotic pain reliever as necessary to take the edge off.
The discomfort that patients experience after a surgical procedure will vary widely. This fact applies to any surgical specialty: If the same procedure is done on 10 different patients, there will probably be 10 different descriptions of the recovery period. Following oral surgery, most patients will find that the discomfort peaks the day of the procedure, or, the day after. Many oral surgery procedures involve some surgery on the bone, and bone is a relatively slow healing tissue. Although the intensity of discomfort associated with bone surgery usually decreases rapidly, a dull ache can sometimes be persistent. Also, it is not unusual for discomfort to disappear, only to reappear later. This waxing & waning of symptoms is common, and is not a cause for alarm. Stiffness of the jaw muscles is common following procedures that involve the back part of the upper or lower jaw. Stretching your muscles by repetitively opening as wide as possible and holding that position for 5 10 seconds can be helpful. Using your fingers to apply gentle traction to your lower front teeth is another helpful way to stretch your jaw muscles and prevent increasing stiffness.
Swelling following surgery will usually peak at the 3rd 4th day after the procedure. During the first hours after your procedure, ice packs, applied to the skin overlying the surgical sites will help minimize subsequent swelling. There is strong variation in the individual responses that patients will have following surgery. For example, some patients will have rather impressive swelling that can be accompanied by bruising, others will not. By 7 8 days following the procedure, the swelling will be about 75% resolved. At 2 – 3 weeks, the swelling will be 95% resolved. If you notice swelling increasing after the first week, we recommend that you be seen in the office.
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 will stay in place long enough to nourish and protect the socket until the next phase of healing is underway. Dry socket simply means that the clot has been lost prematurely. The dry socket phenomena is a temporary condition, and the socket will heal normally. Treatments for dry socket are limited, and sometimes require additional surgery. Smoking is the most common cause of dry socket.
Wisdom Teeth: Why and When to Remove
When someone has pain associated with their wisdom teeth, the reasons to consider their removal are pretty clear. But often wisdom teeth are recommended for removal when there are no symptoms. These recommendations are made for a number of reasons related to oral and systemic health. For example, many studies confirm that wisdom teeth are associated with deep pocketing of the gum tissue. Over time, the deep pockets harbor bacteria, leading to chronic inflammation. Chronic sources of inflammation release byproducts into the bloodstream, which are strongly linked to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Chronic inflammation around wisdom teeth will also lead to loss of surrounding bone. 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.
Usually, the best time to have wisdom teeth removed is before they are fully formed- most patients will be between the ages of 16 and 21. At this time, the roots of the wisdom teeth are short, the surrounding bone soft, and the surrounding gum tissue is likely to be healthier. While a wisdom tooth is developing, it is surrounded by a soft sac of tissue know as the follicle. When a tooth is still in the follicle, very little force is necessary to remove the tooth from its socket. The boney socket around the follicle is rich in vascularity. This environment contributes to rapid and comfortable healing. Numerous studies confirm that complications are fewest when wisdom teeth are removed prior to the roots being fully developed.
How long do I have to wait to get a tooth on my implant?
One of the most important factors affecting the time needed for bone to heal to implants is the inherent density of your bone. Generally it is best to wait 2 months for the implants to stabilize in the lower jaw (dense bone), and 4 months in the upper jaw (softer bone). A temporary tooth that has little or no biting pressure can often be placed on the implant during the healing period.
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 or cover screw. 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?
There are several types of grafting material frequently used for oral surgery procedures. Your own bone, taken from another site, is sometimes the best choice. For small bone grafts such as filling in a tooth socket, commercially available bone graft material is often the preferred choice. The commercially available bone graft material used in oral surgery is identical to that used in orthopedic and other surgical disciplines.
Is the artificial bone material safe to use?
Yes, 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 being 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?
We constantly monitor the status of your awareness during your procedure. 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.