What to do when the pain won’t go away after a dental or oral surgery
Dental and oral procedures have serious risks, and it can be dangerous to ignore ongoing pain
As a Houston medical and dental malpractice attorney, I have represented lots of people who have suffered from terrible problems after a surgical procedure.
While practically no one really enjoys going to the dentist, many people are unaware of the serious risk that some dental oral surgeries present.
Recently, I met with a new client—I will call her Marjorie in this article—about serious, life-threatening problems she had after an oral surgery procedure called tori reduction.
Toris are usually harmless bone growths in the roof of the mouth, inside the lower jaw, or the cheek side of the upper molar teeth. Sometimes they do not cause any problems. Other times, they need to be reduced or removed altogether.
Marjorie had annoying toris growing by her molars and poking her cheek. She saw a Houston-area oral surgeon, who recommended a surgery for tori reduction. The dental surgeon described it as a simple procedure where he would shave off some of the extra bone. The oral surgeon told this dental patient that she would be back at work within two days.
Three days after the surgery, Marjorie was still having severe pain, and could feel something below her right jaw, down toward her neck. When she called and informed the oral surgeon of these problems, he told her not to worry and keep using her pain medications.
The next day, which was a Friday, she called her doctor again and went in for an office visit. He still was not concerned and gave her some more pain pills.
By Monday, Marjorie could see swelling on her neck and pain radiated down her right side. She went in for another visit with her oral surgeon. Believe it or not, at first he did not examine her and just handed her a prescription for more pain medications. After she asked him to feel her neck, he came back into the room after about five minutes and asked her to go see a nearby ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor.
The ENT told her that she her throat swelling could continue and make her stop breathing. In other words, if she had not been persistent in getting treatment, she may have died from this dental procedure. The ENT sent her straight to the emergency room.
What to do about ongoing pain after a dental procedure
Any time you have a surgical or dental procedure, you will likely have some discomfort or even pain. Listen carefully to your doctor to get an idea of what to expect.
And remember, you are the expert on your body. If you experience pain that is severe, let your dentist, oral surgeon, or doctor know immediately. A good rule of thumb is that if you find that the pain is getting worse day after day following a surgery, something could be wrong and you should get immediate medical or dental attention.
Your doctor may think you are just having normal post-surgical pain, and may say something like, “Everyone experiences pain differently, don’t worry about it, take more pain pills.” But remember, the pain pills are just treating a symptom, not the potential problem. That is why you should be firm, but polite, that this just does not feel right and you want some testing because you are worried that something is wrong.
In Marjorie’s case, she had such a bad infection that it had formed into an abscess located by her bottom jaw and down into her neck. A different oral surgeon operated on her at Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, to drain the abscess and then treat the infection. She was left with a permanent unsightly scar under her chin and neck.
We are here to help
If you, or someone you care about, has been harmed by a medical, dental, or oral surgery, the experienced medical and dental malpractice attorneys at Painter Law firm are here to help. Call us at 281-580-8800 for a free consultation.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm PLLC.
A physician has to supervise the care and prescriptions of nurse practitioners and physician assistants under written, signed agreements [...]read more
On 4/1/2018, the new law will end the current practice where doctors can secretly enter a DNR order against patient and family wishes [...]read more
A physician has to supervise the care and prescriptions of nurse practitioners and physician assistants under written, signed agreements
On 4/1/2018, the new law will end the current practice where doctors can secretly enter a DNR order against patient and family wishes
This article was originally published in the September/October 2017 edition of "The Houston Lawyer" magazine
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