Facial swelling is a common occurrence following most of oral surgeries including dental extractions which would have required surgical excisions. The swelling can range from relatively apparent swelling seen even from outside to mild swelling that can be felt only within the mouth or at the site of the surgery. The swelling may or may not be associated with other symptoms such as bleeding, pain, fever or else stiffness.
The progression of facial swelling:
In clinical practice the facial swelling following an oral intervention surgery would peak between the first 48 – 72 hours. In certain instances, the swelling may be apparent soon after the surgery and by the first 48 – 72 hours it can be resolved as well. Thus, in most instances, a patient can expect the swelling to at least start settling by the 3rd or the 4th day. Therefore, long lasting or persisting facial swelling would be an indication of a complication at the surgical site and thus would require the patient to consult the doctor to exclude such events.
What causes the facial swelling after oral surgery?
Following the surgery, the surgical site would be heavily vascularised by various mechanisms and inflammatory mediators would be flocking the site as well. Both higher vascular pressure as well as inflammatory reactions leading to increased vascular permeability would result in the formation of swelling at the surgical site. In any instance, this would be a normal process and it would not be anything a patient should be alarmed of except for the alarming appearance which would gradually return to the normal contours.
The methods to reduce the swelling:
In the first 24 hours, applying ice packs from the outside of the face and the mouth would be advisable and care should be taken not to damage the facial skin due to extreme cold. Thus, even number of breaks between applications of ice packs would be recommended to avoid such harm.
If the swelling continues beyond and does not seem to resolve by itself, it’s possible to apply a warming device outside the mouth but as before, extreme care should be taken not to damage the skin from the heat. Applying a moisturizing ointment would be advisable, along with keeping a thin lining of cloth in between the warming device or the soaked cloth and the skin.
In certain instances, gurgling with salt water would also be beneficial in absorbing the moisture in the tissues and thus reduce the swelling to a certain extent.
Apart from these options, taking anti inflammatory medications would also support in minimizing the swelling as well as to ease the pain which would otherwise make the patients to suffer from extreme discomfort at times of moving the jaw and when eating, drinking or even at speaking.