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How Long Should You Use Ice After Oral Surgery?

Posted on 3/17/2017 by Dr. Ryan
A woman using an ice bag to manage her pain.
Oral surgery, no matter how minor it may seem, requires you to take certain steps to ensure a quick and uneventful recovery.

Your oral surgeon will provide you with instructions that will tell you how to handle pain, what medications you can take, what antibiotics to take to prevent infection and under which circumstances you should call. Another part of the healing process involves using ice to help with swelling.

Why Do You Swell after Oral Surgery?

Some swelling is normal after an oral surgery procedure. Swelling occurs because of tissue manipulation as well as bone removal.

Typically, the more involved the procedure, or the longer it takes, the more likely you are to experience more significant swelling. It may not be immediately noticeable, showing up a day later, and typically peaks two to three days the procedure.

Why Ice?
Even if you don't notice swelling during the first day, ice is still recommended. This is because ice is only effective during the first 24 hours.

After that point, it becomes less effective. Ice causes your blood vessels to constrict, which means that less fluid can be transported or leech out of the tissues surrounding the surgical site. As a result, ice works to minimize the total amount of swelling you will experience when it reaches its peak.

How to Apply Ice
When you are at home, you can use just about any ice source you can find. It can be a plastic bag filled with ice, an ice pack, or even a bag of frozen vegetables.

Whatever you choose, be sure to wrap it in a dish towel. You do not want to put a cold object directly on your skin. Hold the ice on the cheek adjacent to the surgical site for 15 minutes and then keep it off for another 15. Alternate this pattern as often as you feel necessary during the first 24 hours following your surgery.

Ice is an excellent way to prevent significant swelling following an oral surgery procedure. Contact our office for other ways to help keep swelling down and make your recovery as comfortable as possible.


Robert Cory Ryan, DDS, MD
Mountain Oral Surgery
& Dental Implant Center

7991 Vance Drive, Suite A
Arvada CO 80003
p: (303) 422-2990

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"Had an overall great experience with Dr. Ryan. The staff was very courteous and professional. Most important, the work they did, (two implants, to hold lower dentures) was very secure and I'm free of the hassle and pain. I was concerned at first but he answered all my questions and the whole procedure went well. I definitely would recomend them if you need that type of work done. 2 thumbs up!"
~ Keith I.
"Best doc we have ever been to. My son felt safe and relaxed with him and his staff."
~ George G.

"The office is well run. Everyone I had contact with was friendly and knowledgeable. Procedures were explained and all questions answered. Oral surgery can be an intimidating proposition, but Dr. Ryan and his staff are sensitive to that by providing excellent pain management and results."
~ Lisa S.

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