It can be difficult to tell what’s going on inside your mouth following oral surgery. It’s a body part that’s difficult to observe on your own even when it isn’t stuffed with gauze and slightly swollen. You may experience some moments of concern if you’re experiencing post-surgery symptoms that don’t seem like regular healing processes, but it’s likely that these are completely normal: your mouth is unlike any other part of your body, and it has its own way of recuperating. At Southern California Center for Surgical Arts, we want you to be fully informed about recovering from your dental implants so that you can be as comfortable and stress-free as possible.
What are normal post-surgery symptoms?
Moderate pain and tenderness at the implant site is only natural as you heal. Depending on the extent of your surgery, we will recommend or prescribe pain medication to help you reduce your pain during your recovery. You may experience some severe pain in the first few days immediately following your surgery — you should be able to manage this with prescription pain medications from Dr. Elias. After the first few days, your pain should be subsiding and should be managed with Tylenol or ibuprofen. Keep in mind that prescription pain medications are intended only for short-term use and can be harmful if used in ways other than as directed by your doctor. We recommend that you switch to over-the-counter pain medication as soon as you feel able to do so.
Moderate to heavy bleeding is normal in the first few days after surgery. You might even experience some oozing or see globs of red in your saliva as clotting blood is released from the implant site. This is just your body cleaning the wound to prevent infection and resealing it to stop the bleeding. If an old clot is released from your impact site, your wound has reopened temporarily, and you will bleed until a new clot is formed. This might result in what seems like heavy bleeding; this is not necessarily a cause for concern. Your mouth is highly vascular, meaning it has a lot of blood vessels near the surface. This often results in oral wounds seeming more serious than they are because even a slight cut will bleed quite a bit. If a clot is released and you experience heavy bleeding, pad the implant site with clean gauze or a used and cooled tea bag.
Fevers are one of your body’s natural responses to healing. When your immune system detects a foreign organism like bacteria or a virus, it heats itself up in an attempt to kill off the invading germs. When you get injured or have surgery, your immune cells work in much the same way to seal the wound and make sure it doesn’t become infected. A low-grade fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or lower) is normal in the first few days following your surgery. You should be able to keep your body temperature down with a fever-reducing pain medication like Tylenol or ibuprofen.
Swelling & Bruising
If you or a friend have had their wisdom teeth removed, you’re familiar with the “chimpunk cheeks” swelling that can accompany oral surgery. Swelling, just like fever, is a natural response to injury. Your body sends blood to the surgery site as a means of cleaning and sealing the wound and transporting immune cells to prevent infection. The increased amount of blood flow to the implant area causes swelling. Occasionally, the blood collecting around the wound will result in discoloration or bruising on your cheeks and neck, especially if you are fair-skinned or your implants are near the sides of your mouth. Swelling and bruising can be eased with a cold compress and should subside on their own within a few days following your surgery.
If you are feeling nauseous immediately after surgery, this could be a result of the residual anesthesia leaving your system. Do not eat anything, including your pain medication, until the nausea subsides. Try slowly sipping a lightly-carbonated beverages or tea to help. Nausea is also a common outcome of taking medications on an empty stomach. Since eating after oral surgery is difficult, you may experience bouts of nausea after you take your medications. We recommend trying to avoid taking your pain medications or antibiotics on an empty stomach.
When should I call Dr. Elias?
You can call the SCCSA office any time you feel like your symptoms are out of the ordinary. It’s most likely you have nothing to worry about, and our staff is here to reassure you that you are healing as expected. However, there are certain signs that you should call Dr. Elias right away.
If you are running a high-grade fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or above) that isn’t managed with Tylenol or ibuprofen, this could be a sign of an infection at the implant site. It should be addressed immediately to avoid further complications. You should call our office right away, or visit an urgent care clinic to determine if your implant site is infected.
If you are nauseous or vomiting even though you are eating before you take your medications, it could be a sign of an allergy to your prescription. Contact Dr. Elias to discuss alternative pain management options.
If you are experiencing severe pain, excessive bleeding or numbness beyond the first few post-surgery days, this could be a sign of other complications. Dr. Elias is available to help determine if your symptoms are a cause for concern, and to instruct you if you should schedule a follow-up at SCCSA or seek other medical attention.
Your comfort and care are our priority
There are some steps we can take together to make sure your recovery process is worry-free. Before to your dental implant surgery, be sure to let Dr. Elias know if you have any history of allergies to medications, medical materials or anesthetics. Dr. Elias can address any individual concerns during your consultation, including medications you already take, whether your age or health will change or extend your recovery process, and what you can personally expect based on the scope of your surgery. Remember, the SCCSA staff is always available to respond to any questions or concerns. You can reach us at 818-696-4425.