Ice is one of the most common methods of treating swelling for any injury, including oral health conditions. It can be helpful if used correctly, but it can also be detrimental and actually cause further injury. After any dental procedure or oral injury, our dentist will explain after-care methods to reduce any swelling. Though instructions may differ, these will likely include ice and over the counter pain medications. We can give you more information about using ice and other options to reduce swelling.
When Ice Works
Ice is a great way to combat the body's initial inflammatory response, but it is this response that actually helps the body begin to heal. So, be careful not to ice for too long. In general, it is usually recommended that you ice for about ten minutes at a time. Always have a towel or some other barrier between the ice and your skin. Ice is helpful for the first few days following injury, infection, or a dental procedure that has caused swelling. Ice causes the blood vessels to constrict and also decreases cell metabolism in the area. In general, this means less blood build-up and cell activity in the area and a reduction in swollen tissue.
When Ice Does Not Work
Ice is not always the best option for swelling, though, as it can sometimes aggravate the condition and make it worse. After a few days, your body should start to reduce inflammation on its own. At this point, using ice can aggravate the tissue, causing more damage and a longer recovery time. Our dentist will give you more instructions on how to reduce swelling and manage pain without using ice. This will likely include using heat, taking over the counter pain medication, using a salt water rinse, and keeping your head elevated. Call us for more information about dental swelling.