Periodontal Surgery Complications

Written by j. lang wood
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Periodontal Surgery Complications
Periodontal surgery can have a number of complications. (Image by, courtesy of Paul Stocker)

Periodontal surgery is a speciality that involves work done on the supportive and connective tissue surrounding the teeth. It is an important part of dental health. Periodontal surgery is often recommended for receding gums, repair of pockets alongside teeth and for implant site preparation. Periodontal surgery is generally safe and uneventful, but complications can arise. Patients should be aware of the most common periodontal surgery complications:

Ongoing or Increasing Pain

When pain at the site of surgery continues beyond the immediate period afterward, or is not managed by pain medications recommended by the periodontist, it can signal that an infection or swelling of tissues around the site of surgery. The patient should contact their periodontist immediately for follow-up examination.

Continued Bleeding

A small amount of bleeding is normal after periodontal surgery. If bleeding continues or worsens after three days, your periodontist should be consulted immediately. It could be a symptom of ripped stitches or clotting problem that requires his attention.

Swelling of Jaw or Face

Icing the area directly over the site of the surgery is generally recommended immediately after surgery on a schedule of 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off for the first five hours. If swelling continues or increases after this period, it may indicate infection or bruising of the mouth tissues. Your periodontist should be notified to re-examine the site as soon as possible.


Any suspicion of fever indicates an infection in the body, and is an especially important after periodontal surgery. Surgery on the bones in the jaw can cause deep infections that may require additional surgery. Antiseptic mouth rinses are prescribed to try to prevent these infections. Oral antibiotics may also be necessary.

Headache or Sinus Pain

Jaw pain, sinus pain or headache can be indications of underlying post-surgery infection that should be brought to your periodontist's attention so that he or she can treat it with antibiotics.

Drainage of Pus

Any sign of drainage of pus from the wound at the site of surgery should be seen by your periodontist immediately. This is always a sign of serious infection that should be treated with antibiotics as soon as possible.

Sloughing of Tissue from a Donor Site

Some periodontal grafting procedures requires taking tissue from a donor site, usually on the roof of the mouth, to be grafted to another area. This leaves a wound at the donor site that is vulnerable to injury from chewing or talking. If there is any sloughing of tissue at the donor site, it may be necessary to wear a plastic form over the site to protect it from injury until healing has got underway.

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