Recovery From Oral and Facial Infection

Recovery from infections can be slow and gradual. Most patients are primarily concerned about pain and swelling after surgery, what they can eat, and when they can return to normal activities. Recovery can vary based on the following factors.

  • Severity of infection: The more complex the infection, the longer the recovery.
  • Complexity of surgery: The more complex the surgery, the higher the chance of increased discomfort, swelling, and an overall longer recovery.
  • Surgical approach and technique: Conservative and minimal surgical approaches can minimize discomfort, possibly avoid swelling, and speed of recovery time.
  • Length of surgery: Typically, longer surgical procedures require more healing and recovery time.
  • Post-operative instructions: You can improve your recovery by closely adhering to both pre-operative and post-operative instructions. Follow them closely and you can recover faster.
  • Individual physiology and healing potential: This is highly variable among different individuals. Good nutrition and a good  general state of health help to speed up your recovery time.

Important Facts for a Speedy Recovery from Infection:

  • Take your antibiotics exactly as instructed
  • Hydrate with plenty of fluids
  • Do no apply ice or heat to face or affected area
  • Any drains that were placed should be removed in 3-4 days

While recovery is different for everyone, you may expect the following.


Level and duration of pain depends on the complexity of the surgery, technique, and patient’s tolerance. Most patients experience three to four days of elevated pain, commonly managed with pain medications such as Vicodin or Percocet. As pain gradually diminishes over the next two to three days, Ibuprofen (Advil) or Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be used. After seven to ten days, most patients no longer have pain and may stop their medications.


Any swelling related to infection resolves gradually n 10-14 days. It is important to remove the source of infection as soon as possible. Any swelling related to surgery will maximize in 36 to 48 hours following procedure, and gradually taper over the next five to seven days. Ice helps to reduce swelling in the first 24 hours.


Upon arrival home, you may have water, juices, soups, shakes, puree, and very soft food. A soft diet is recommended up to five to seven days. No hard, crispy, or spicy should be eaten during this period. The general rule is if you have to chew, it’s probably too hard. After seven days, patients may gradually return to normal food.


Get plenty of rest on day of surgery. Some patients may feel well enough the following day to walk and go out. That’s all right, but take it easy. Avoid strenuous activities for the first two to three days. Refrain from sports, lifting, or doing anything that requires exertion. After three days, if patients feel more comfortable, they can walk, go for a gentle swim, or do very low-impact exercise., such as swimming or walking. Mild activities may cause some pain but not enough to disturb the surgery site or open the sutures.

Most patients return to work, school, or some normal activities one to two days after surgery. Most schedule their surgery on a Friday and are ready to return to wok or class by Monday. There is no problem with traveling or flying the following day, although it’s best to rest for a day or two. Of course there are always variations in overall response and recovery.