There is increasing awareness that many antibiotics are losing their effectiveness to prevent and treat bacterial infections, with the emergence of  dangerous ‘superbugs’ infecting even previously healthy people. 

Routine oral surgical procedures have an extremely low rate of infection, and early post-operative swelling (in the absence of infection) can be extreme from the extent of the surgery. Ice packs applied to the face help for the first 24-48 hours, and after that may help from a comfort point of view. Persistent swelling after the 3rd or 4th day is best managed using moist warm packs applied to the side of the face (which additionally provides comfort) – and by days 5 to 7 any residual swelling should resolve. 

Infections do occasionally occur, and it is obvious when this happens; they usually only become apparent after 14+ days and are most likely due to bacteria in saliva or food particle contamination, causing swelling in the mouth and of the face, often with considerable discomfort and pain. This ‘delayed’ infection can even occur weeks or months after oral surgery and requires prompt attention. Don’t hesitate to call the daytime or after hours telephone numbers which were provided to you at the time of the surgery. 

With the aforementioned in mind, you will receive specific advice regarding the perceived need (in your individual case) whether or not to take an antibiotic pre- and/or post-operatively (and for how long); this decision depending largely on your general health status and susceptibility to infection, and the extent of your particular operation. 

Chlorhexidine mouth rinses are prescribed for their strong antiseptic effect.

More about antibiotics

Most people believe – and have been told by health professionals –that it’s essential to finish a course of antibiotics to prevent antibiotic resistance. But this advice is not only wrong, it could actually be harmful.

But recommended antibiotic courses are often arbitrary; they may reflect long-standing convention or be based on a manufacturer’s decision during an initial drug trial. Recent clinical trials show that even for some serious infections, shorter antibiotic courses can be as effective as conventional, longer ones.

The general rule is: the shorter the course, the lower the risk of side effects or resistance. More trials are needed to determine the shortest courses that can be recommended without increasing the risk of relapse. But ultimately, it will still depend on clinical judgment not arbitrary rules, conventions or package inserts.

Prof. Lyn Gilbert. Clinical Professor of Infectious Disease, Sydney University (22/4/15)

To elaborate on the “side effects” Prof Gilbert alludes to, these would include:

  • allergy and sensitisation (hives, rashes and at worst anaphylaxis)
  • nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhoea; thrush, and other complications, most of which are rare

Therefore, and in summary, it is best to avoid antibiotics when safe to do so. 

Note also that all procedures done at the Oral Surgery Day Centre are performed in a licensed and accredited operating theatre, with full surgical sterility, following stringent infection control standards and comprehensive safety guidelines. 

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