If you have a tooth extraction scheduled, you may be wondering how you’ll heal after the procedure.
Patients often ask us if they will have “chipmunk cheeks” after a tooth extraction. The truth is, any oral surgery has the potential to trigger swelling. The amount varies from person to person, but your face may swell after your tooth removal, at least for a little while.
Why Do Tooth Extractions Cause Cheek Swelling?
Swelling after oral surgery is perfectly normal. In fact, it’s part of the body’s natural healing process.
When body tissues are damaged, fluid and blood cells flood the area, causing it to swell. And because tooth extraction causes trauma to the gums and nearby tissues, this inflammation can be expected.
How Much Swelling Can You Expect after Tooth Extraction?
Most swelling will appear in the skin tissues close to your extraction site. So if you’re having a tooth removed from the left side of your mouth, you probably won’t have much inflammation on the right side.
If yours is a routine extraction of an intact tooth growing in a normal position, you may have very little swelling. An experienced oral surgeon can sometimes remove the tooth without causing too much damage to the nearby gum and facial tissues.
More complex oral surgery procedures can cause more severe inflammation that extends further from the extraction site. Removal of teeth that are decayed, broken or impacted often requires additional oral surgery procedures, such as tissue flapping and bone trimming, which can lead to extensive swelling.
So if your tooth removal is on the complex side, you should expect the chipmunk cheeks.
How Long Does Tooth Extraction Swelling Last?
Post-operative inflammation usually peaks about 48 to 72 hours after oral surgery, and resolves on its own within a day or two.
Meanwhile, you can help minimize the amount of swelling.
Immediately after your tooth extraction, begin an ice therapy regimen. Wrap a dry cloth around a bag of crushed ice, and apply it to the outside of your face for 20 minutes. Remove the ice for the next 20 minutes, then repeat. You can use ice therapy for the first two days following oral surgery.
On the third or fourth day, once your swelling has peaked, switch to heat application. Replace the ice with a hot water bottle or warm compress and follow the same procedure — 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off, rinse and repeat.
If your swelling doesn’t start to go down by day four, or if it worsens, contact our office to schedule a follow-up consultation. Either of these could be a sign of an infection, which needs immediate treatment.
The professional treatment team at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah has the training, qualifications and experience to successfully perform a full range of oral surgery procedures. Contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Tooele office today to schedule your tooth extraction consultation.