Definition and Overview
Patients who have undergone an emergency oral surgical procedure that involves the gums, teeth, mouth and jaw are typically scheduled for a follow-up. The purpose is for the oral surgeon to check if the wound is healing as expected, to remove any stitches (if necessary) and monitor untoward side effects of the procedure so they are caught and addressed as early as possible.
This follow-up is usually a routine process that takes place 1 to 2 weeks after the oral surgery was performed. The schedule of the follow-up is usually predetermined after the surgery and is made known to the patient before he is discharged.
The patient may stick to the schedule if he does not experience any pain or excessive bleeding. However, if there is worrisome discomfort, he may opt to jump the schedule to have the symptoms checked and treated. The earlier the symptoms are looked at and managed, the better prognosis for healing.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results
An oral surgery emergency follow-up is for patients who were in emergency situations (such as those listed below) and had received treatment from an oral surgeon:
- Unbearable pain caused by impacted teeth and abscesses
- Severe bleeding caused by deep lacerations and open wounds that required the skill of an oral surgeon to close.
- Major trauma to the face and mouth. This may be a result of a work-related injury, physical altercation or an accident. This could lead to a knocked-out tooth or fractured and broken bones. An oral surgeon typically attends to these cases at the soonest possible time not just to relieve pain but also to prevent any physical deformity.
How Does the Procedure Work?
The main purpose of an oral surgery emergency follow-up is to assess the success of the procedure and make sure that there are no complications. If there are no swelling, bleeding and pain, the oral surgery will be considered a success.
At the appointed time, or at an earlier schedule in case of pain and severe bleeding, a nursing staff will collect and prepare the patient’s information for the oral surgeon’s reference. Armed with the patient’s medical history, the oral surgeon will review the case and reacquaint himself about the patient’s case and his or her unique circumstances.
This is typically followed by a physical examination of the mouth and surrounding tissues, paying particular attention to the area where the emergency oral surgical procedure was performed. If all looks well and there is no discomfort or pain, the patient will get a clean bill of health.
However, if there are signs of an infection, especially with the resurgence of severe pain and increased swelling, the oral surgeon will perform additional tests to determine the causes. Depending on the tests’ results, the surgeon may prescribe medication, another treatment or additional procedures. Another follow-up appointment will be scheduled to monitor the effectiveness of the new or additional treatment method.
In cases where the patient experiences the following symptoms, he can go ahead and see his oral surgeon ahead of the follow-up schedule.
Swelling beyond 2-3 days after oral surgery – Swelling is a common side effect after oral surgery but it usually lasts between 2-3 days and generally normalizes and dissipates. However, when the swelling remains and pain becomes stronger, it may indicate a serious infection.
Persistent bleeding – Minimal bleeding is normal after oral surgery but it usually resolves itself by the time that the patient is discharged. Bleeding in the mouth may be stopped by applying pressure to the bleeding area with gauze or a piece of cotton for at least 15 minutes. An oral surgery emergency follow-up is in order if the blood continues to flow despite the prolonged application of pressure.
Possible Complications and Risks
An oral surgery follow-up is 100% risk-free. However, if certain diagnostic and therapeutic procedures are performed, there are possible complications such as bleeding, infection, pain and discomfort.
- American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons: "The Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon."