Procedures,  Q&A

Stitches in my mouth are bothering me – What Should I do?

This article is a part of our Q&A series in which we give detailed answers to our readers' questions. Have a question? Don't hesitate and send it to us to get a detailed answer!

Oral surgery is sometimes necessary for various dental procedures, and stitches or sutures are often used to facilitate the healing process. However, stitches can sometimes cause discomfort. This guide aims to provide comprehensive information on how to manage and alleviate discomfort caused by stitches after oral surgery.

Stitches in Oral Surgery

Purpose of Stitches

Stitches are used to close wounds or incisions, helping to control bleeding, promote healing, and reduce the risk of infection. In oral surgery, they are commonly used after tooth extractions, gum grafts, or other surgical procedures.

Types of Stitches

There are two main types of stitches used in oral surgery – absorbable and non-absorbable. Absorbable stitches dissolve on their own over time, while non-absorbable stitches need to be removed by a dentist or oral surgeon.

Common Issues with Stitches After Oral Surgery

  • Irritation and Discomfort: Stitches can cause irritation to the tongue, cheeks, or lips as they may have a rough texture.
  • Infection: Though stitches are meant to prevent infection, poor oral hygiene can cause the stitched area to become infected.
  • Loosening or Coming Out: Stitches can sometimes become loose or fall out prematurely.

Managing Discomfort and Irritation

  • Cold Compress: Apply a cold compress to the outside of your face in the area of the surgery. This can reduce swelling and alleviate pain.
  • Pain Medication: Take over-the-counter pain medication as recommended by your dentist or oral surgeon to manage discomfort.
  • Saltwater Rinses: Gently rinse your mouth with warm saltwater several times a day. This can promote healing and alleviate discomfort. However, don’t start rinsing until at least 24 hours after the surgery.
  • Avoid Irritating Foods: Avoid hot, spicy, or hard foods as they can irritate the area. Opt for soft and cool foods like yogurt, ice cream, and mashed potatoes.
  • Be Mindful of the Stitches: Try not to poke the stitches with your tongue or finger, as this can cause further irritation or dislodge them.

Preventing Infection

  • Maintain Oral Hygiene: Gently brush your teeth, avoiding the stitched area for the first couple of days. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and be sure not to dislodge the stitches.
  • Follow Antibiotics Regimen: If your dentist has prescribed antibiotics, ensure you take the entire course as directed.

Knowing When to Seek Help

  • Stitches Coming Out: If your stitches come out prematurely, contact your dentist, especially if the wound opens or bleeding is excessive.
  • Signs of Infection: If you experience increased pain, swelling, or have discharge from the stitched area, or if you develop a fever, these could be signs of infection, and you should seek medical attention.
  • Persistent Pain: If pain persists despite taking pain medication, it’s wise to consult your dentist.

Bottom Line

While stitches are an essential part of the healing process after oral surgery, they can sometimes cause discomfort. Knowing how to effectively manage discomfort, maintain oral hygiene, and recognize when to seek medical attention is vital for a smooth recovery. Always follow the post-operative instructions provided by your dentist or oral surgeon and don’t hesitate to reach out to them if you have concerns regarding your stitches or recovery.

This Q&A series article is complete and was published on August 7, 2023, and last updated on August 7, 2023.

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