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Oral Surgery/damage to salivary glands


QUESTION: Dear Dr. Teig

     I was recently hospitalized for an near-fatal infection involving an abscess of a molar. i was put into a medically induced coma for a week. At first i had no pain, then about a month later i started having pain just behind my jaw. the pain was mild until i tried to eat or even when i smelled food cooking. At that point the pain would escalate to the point where i could not move. the pain has only gotten worse. I've tried many different pain relievers up to an including norco, none of which have done anything for the pain. the only short-term relief i find is in natural clove oil and that only works for a short time. is there anything else i can try to relieve the pain? thank you for any assistance you are able to provide.

ANSWER: Joshua - You didn't say which tooth was the molar that was abscessed.  I ask that because of the position of the tooth to important neurological and vascular areas.  You also don't say where you apply the clove oil.  Have you had testing of the salivary glands and/or a sialogram (a radiological exam where dye is injected into the gland via its duct).

If you could get back to me with the additional information I ask, maybe I can suggest assistance.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for responding. i look up the tooth online and it's #32 on the chart. the surgeon who worked on me said he saw no problems with the gland. i apply the clove oil to the gums where the tooth was.

Joshua - Not seeing an xray of the area or examining you now I cannot be sure, but since oil of clove relieves some of the pain, it usually indicates that you are now suffering from inflammation of the bone.  It might be a dry socket or a more significant bone inflammation  because of the response that oil of cloves produces.  If this is the situation, it can take a while to heal.  In the interim, I would suggest, in addition to using the clove begin warm salt water rinses for about 5 minutes 5-6 times a day.  

A little more extensive approach would be the surgeon to refer you for hyperbaric oxygen treatment.  This treatment introduces oxygen into your blood and bone to speed up healing.  I don't know if your surgeon is familiar with this treatment, but when nothing else has appeared to have helped, this treatment might help to promote healing.  Just so you know, when infection penetrates into bone and the blood flow to the area is reduces, as is common with bone infection, hyperbaric oxygen is used.  I have used it is some patients with good success.

I wish you well and hope this can help.  

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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired


I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.


Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicing for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor at State University School of Dentistry.

American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

BA- University of Connecticut DMD-University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Residency - Roosevelt Hospital, NYC

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