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How to Prevent Infection After a Dental Operation

Following a dental procedure, your oral health is dependent on how well you follow your dentist’s post-operation instructions. Preventing infection and managing pain is completely possible, and will give you the best results at your follow-up appointment.

Any kind of surgical procedure carries the risk of infection, and oral surgery is no exception. During recovery, a surgical wound can become infected with bacteria and lead to painful complications if it is not properly cared for. Although the risk of this happening is low, the possibility is still there. Successfully preventing infection after a dental operation depends on following your dental surgeon’s post-op instructions. Follow these tips to make healing from your oral surgery successful and free from infections:

Use Gauze to Manage Bleeding

Depending on the type of procedure you have, you may experience some bleeding at the incision site after you leave your dentist’s office. Manage the bleeding by elevating your head, placing damp gauze over the surgical wound, and biting down lightly on the gauze for about an hour. If bleeding is still an issue after an hour, contact your dentist or surgeon.

Take Antibiotics as Prescribed

If you were prescribed antibiotics or pain medication before or after your oral surgery, take them exactly as prescribed. Unless the dentist tells you otherwise, follow the antibiotic label’s instructions carefully to prevent bacteria present in the mouth from causing an infection. It’s also important to not stop taking antibiotics prematurely instead of consuming each pill, as the medicine may not work properly.

Get Some Rest

Rest and avoid physical activity for at least two days after surgery to give yourself time to recover. You may be able to get back to your normal routine after 48 hours, but it’s important not to push yourself too hard. Swelling is a normal reaction, and may not develop until 24 hours after the operation. Apply an ice pack to relieve some of the swelling, but if it continues for several days following surgery, it is best to continue to rest.

Care for Your Stitches

You may not require an additional trip to the dentist to have your stitches removed — they will likely fall out or dissolve on their own within a day or two if your mouth is healing naturally. If your surgeon needs to physically remove the stitches, they will require you to set up a follow-up appointment before you leave their office after your procedure.

Do Not Smoke or Use Tobacco

Avoid smoking for at least 24 hours post-operation. Smoking can interfere with the body’s natural healing process and lead to dry socket. This infection causes a blood clot in an extracted tooth to dislodge and leave the nerves and bone exposed. Additionally, do not chew tobacco until after your surgical wound has healed completely or the substance will stick to the wound and cause painful complications.

Oral Hygiene after Surgery

Proper oral hygiene is key to preventing infection after a dental operation. If you are able, gently brush and floss your teeth daily in the days following your surgery. Depending on the type of surgery you have, your dentist may allow you to begin rinsing your mouth out with salt water after 24 hours, but do not swallow the solution. This will help dislodge any food particles from the wound and help prevent an infection.

An infection may not be immediately apparent if you don’t know what to look for. Some of the warning signs include:

  • a fever of more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • increased pain 3 to 4 days after surgery
  • intensified swelling around the surgical site after 3 to 4 days
  • pus coming from the surgical wound
  • problems opening or moving your mouth or jaw

Some bleeding, swelling and pain are very common after dental surgery. The extent of these symptoms depends on the type of procedure you have, but if these symptoms persist or seem excessive, contact your surgeon immediately. To learn more about oral surgery, and preventing infection after a dental operation, contact Arkansas Family Dental today.

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Samaria Mascagni

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