Oral Surgery FAQ

Q: What is an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon (OMS)?

A: An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is a specialist in the treatment of disease problems associated with the jaws, teeth, mouth and face. The type of problems that we see may be as simple as a tooth extraction or as complicated as reconstructive or tumor surgery. Educational requirements include graduation from dental school and completion of an approved internship and residency training program which is typically University and hospital based.

Q: What is Board Certification and are our doctors Board Certified?

A: Board Certification (also known as Diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery) is the highest level of academic achievement. It is not a requirement to practice oral surgery however, those individuals who are board certified have demonstrated their capabilities and desires to obtain this level of achievement. To become board certified, an applicant must have completed an approved internship and residency training program, applied to the board and been accepted (board eligible) and complete the exam. Certification is awarded after a rigorous set of exams including a written portion as well as an oral (verbal) portion are passed. Many hospitals and insurance plans are now requiring board certification to participate as a provider.

Q: Do I need a separate consultation or can I be treated the same day?

A: Many patients are seen and treated the same day. This is typical especially for extractions and other routine procedures. More complicated treatment plans or health histories will require separate consultations. 

Q: How long should I keep pressure on the gauze?

A: Before you left our office we made sure that the bleeding was under control. We do recommend you leaving the gauze over the surgical site for at least 30 minutes after you arrive home. Bite down with firm pressure during that time. Then gently remove the gauze. If bright red blood flows from the surgical site, put a clean piece of moistened gauze in your mouth and again bite down with firm pressure for another 30 minutes. After that, bleeding should have eased. A pink tinge to your saliva is normal and may continue for a day or two.

Q: What should I do if I still notice blood on the gauze?

A: Remain calm. Have you been keeping FIRM CONTINUOUS pressure on the gauze? If not, do so for 30 more minutes. Do not talk or spit. Remain at rest during this time. You might try using a moistened tea bag wrapped in gauze on the surgery site. Tea bags contain tannic acid, which promotes clotting. Remove the bag and gauze after 30-45 minutes.

Q: What should I do if I feel nauseous?

A: Pain medication may cause some mild nausea. That is why we suggest you drink a milk product before your first dose of medication.

Q: What can I do to relieve pain?

A: Begin taking prescribed pain medication as soon as possible after surgery. We recommend that you first eat something to alleviate nausea that pain medication can cause. Continue taking the medication on the prescribed schedule for the first day or two. After that time, take pain medication as needed in accordance with prescribed directions.

Q: How long will my recovery take? When can I return to work or to my normal routine?

A: You have undergone significant surgery and your body needs time to recover. Plan at least three to four days to rest from normal activity. How quickly you recover depends on how you cooperate with your body’s healing process (resting, drinking liquids, taking your medications, avoiding hard foods and vigorous chewing, rinsing gently, etc.). By following these guidelines, you will minimize complications such as infection and the breakdown of the blood clot (“dry socket”) and return to your routine more quickly.

Q: I have pain three to four weeks after an extraction. What should I do?

A: Typically, this indicates some type of a localized infection. Please call our office, Altoona Office Phone Number 715-834-8414,  so we can evaluate this and recommend appropriate treatment.

Q: My lip (and / or tongue) feels numb. What does this mean?

A: Numbness of the lip, tongue, gums, teeth etc. is a common occurrence after lower jaw surgery. It is usually caused by some type of irritation to the nerves involved. This usually resolves on its own within a few days or weeks, 90% of the time. Occasionally, it may take longer to resolve. Fortunately, it is just a feeling sensation and does not cause a muscle weakness. It is however, important for you to have us evaluate this so appropriate recommendations can be made.

Q: My sutures came out. What should I do?

A: We typically use resorbable sutures (stitches). They begin to dissolve within 2-3 days. Its ok for them to come out. If you notice any significant and persistent bleeding please let us know.

Q: How long do the holes in my jaw stay after extractions?

A: The “holes” or better, extraction sockets will generally close within 6 weeks. It will take several months for the sockets to actually fill with bone. If food gets trapped in the socket area, be sure to clean it with the water syringe given to you at the time of your surgery.

Q: I have terrible bad breath after the surgery. Does this mean I have an infection?

A: No. The bad breath may be caused by food getting into the socket area. Be sure to keep the surgery site clean and this should resolve.