Post-surgical Instructions-Jaw Stiffness and Soreness

Jaw stiffness and soreness is common after oral surgery and may result in limited mouth opening (trismus). This is as a result of the surgery involving the jaw muscles at or near the surgical site. This condition may last for a few days to a week. On rare occasions, jaw stiffness may take longer to resolve. Ice packs provided by the office can be used as heat packs by heating them in hot water. Be careful that the packs do not get hot enough to burn the skin. The packs can be used with the compression dressing 20 minutes on and then 20 minutes off as much as possible. Patients may also use a hot water bottle or heating pad, covered by a thin towel if the packs are not available. 

Advil, Motrin or Ibuprofen can also help to improve swelling and jaw stiffness. Patients should perform exercises to gently stretch their mouth open to get it moving again. It can be tempting just to not open it wide at all, but that can lead to permanent limitation of opening (“chronic trismus”). Physical therapy may occasionally be necessary to improve jaw mobility. 

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