Treating a hematoma

Below are some instructions on treating a Hematoma (“internal bruise”) or restricted jaw opening after local anesthetic:

If soreness develops:

  • You may take whatever over-the-counter medications you normally take for aches and pains. Alternating pain medications may be more effective in pain relief than taking one type of pain medication alone.
  • Ice with firm pressure may be applied to the region immediately.
  • Do not apply heat to the area for at least 4 to 6 hours.
  • Heat may be applied the next day by applying warm moist towels to the affected area for 20 minutes every hour.
  • Time is the most important element in managing a hematoma. With or without treatment, a hematoma will be present 7-14 days. Avoid additional dental therapy in the region until symptoms resolve.

If limitation of jaw movement occurs:

  • Apply hot, moist towels to the affected area for approximately 20 minutes every hour.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of salt to a 12 ounce glass of warm water and hold a sip in the mouth on the affected side then spit out once the water cools. Repeat until the glass is empty.
  • Taking aspirin or ibuprofen will help relieve inflammation and is recommended unless you are unable to take these medications.
  • Open and close the mouth as well as move your jaw side to side for 5 minutes every 3-4 hours. Chewing sugarless gum is one method for accomplishing this.
  • Continue therapy as above until you are symptom free.
  • In most cases, once therapy has been initiated, patients report that they start to see improvement within 48-72 hours. Complete recovery usually takes about 6 weeks but may take up to 20 weeks.


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