Possible Complications after Dental Treatment

For most of us, the very idea of going to the dentist causes trepidation, so it’s important to find one that is well suited to your needs. There are several different External link opens in new tab or windowdentists in Fairbanks, Alaska to choose from, but before you make an appointment, it’s wise to learn exactly what to expect post-visit. In the interest of arming you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision, here are the most common complications that can arise after dental treatment:

Pain and Swelling

Pain and swelling are perhaps the most frequently experienced consequences of undergoing a dental procedure. Pain may moderate to severe. You can ask your dentist to prescribe you pain relievers, if necessary.

To mitigate swelling, you should use ice therapy by applying an icepack, or a bag of frozen peas to your cheek. It’s recommended that you use ice therapy during the first 18 hours after surgery. The ice pack should be held to your cheek for about 25 minutes, with 5-minute intervals of rest.

If swelling worsens or continues for more than three days, you should consult your dentist, as these may be signs of infection.


Bleeding after tooth extraction is only natural. It should be noted that bleeding in your mouth often appears worse than it actually is, as small amounts of blood tend to mix with saliva, making the blood appear larger in volume.

Bleeding can be stopped by consistently placing pressure on the surgical site for the first hour after surgery. This is typically achieved by having you bite down on a piece of gauze. You’ll want to be sure to keep the gauze in place during that fateful first hour. Most bleeding-related issues occur because the patient continuously removed the gauze.

After the first hour or so, you may have to change the gauze and repeat the process a few times before the socket can heal.

If you regularly take anti-coagulants like aspirin, you should inform your dentist at least a week before your surgical appointment. Since these drugs prevent the blood from clotting, they increase your tendency to bleed during your dental procedure. The dentist will likely work with your doctor to either adjust your dosage or temporarily cease your intake of the drug in the days leading up to surgery.

If your bleeding persists for more than a few hours, contact your dentist. They may need to clean out the surgical site and suture it closed.

Alveolitis (Dry Socket)

Alveolitis, commonly known as dry socket, usually occurs after one of your lower back teeth has been extracted and the blood clot that forms in its place is lost. The lack of a blood clot leaves the bone in the socket exposed to air, food, and other irritants, thus delaying the healing process.

In dry socket, pain wanes for the first few days following your extraction, before it quickly worsens. An earache may also occasionally accompany these symptoms.

Alveolitis predominantly affects cigarette users. Regular smokers should refrain from smoking for several days prior to and after an extraction. Women (especially those taking oral contraceptives) have a higher rate of developing dry socket as well.

Though dry socket typically resolves itself within a week or two, any emergency in Fairbanks dentist can help alleviate any discomfort you may be feeling by placing an anesthetic-soaked dressing in the socket.


Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone generally caused by bacteria and often occurs in the mouth as an infection of the lower jaw. Symptoms include fever, tenderness and swelling in the affected area.

Your dentist will x-ray the affected area before making the diagnosis. Osteomyelitis can be treated with antibiotics.

Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ)

Osteonecrosis of the jaw is a disorder in which the jawbone is exposed and begins to weaken and die due to a lack of blood. ONJ can cause severe pain and loosening of teeth.

Though ONJ can emerge without cause, patients most commonly encounter the disorder following a tooth extraction, jaw injury, or radiation therapy. Additionally, patients who are taking intravenous bisphosphonates for osteonecrosis, have previously been given high doses of intravenous bisphosphonates, or have simply been taking bisphosphonates for an extended period of time, are at a high-risk of developing ONJ.

The risk of developing osteonecrosis of the jaw is much lower in patients taking standard doses of bisphosphonates to treat osteoporosis.

ONJ is treated with antibacterial mouth rinses, oral antibiotic, and bone debridement (scraping away bits of damaged bone).