Principles of Oral Wound Healing
Post-procedure stretches are key to getting an optimum result. The mouth tends to heal so quickly that the tissue can constrict causing a new limitation and/or the persistence or return of symptoms.
Wounds tend to contract towards their center as healing occurs. Also, if you have two raw wound surfaces in the mouth in close proximity, they can reattach. It is therefore important to keep them stretched open.
Active Wound Management – Stretching Exercises
It is important to remember to stay relaxed, smiling, and positive. You should show your baby or child that not everything is going to be painful. Be playful. The exercises are not meant to be forceful or prolonged.
Stretching exercises with quick and precise movements are best. A small amount of spotting or bleeding is common while doing the exercises, especially in the first few days. You may use infant Tylenol, children’s ibuprofen (only if older than 6 months), or arnica to help with pain.
A few drops of Hyland’s Teething Gel can be used during the stretching exercises to lubricate and help relieve some discomfort. Starting a few days after the procedure, the wound(s) will look gooey white and/or yellow in appearance. This is a completely normal inflammatory response.
Upper Lip Stretches
This is the easier of the 2 sites to stretch, and if you are doing both lip and tongue, start with the lip. Place your finger under the lip and move it up as high as it will go, until you feel resistance. Then gently sweep from side to side for several seconds. Remember, the goal is to open the opposing surfaces of the lip and gum so they cannot stick together.
Under the Tongue Stretches
Insert both index fingers into the mouth and dive under the tongue and pick up the posterior part of the tongue and lift towards the roof of the baby’s mouth. The tongue needs three separate stretching motions:
- Once you are under the tongue, pick up the posterior part of the tongue as high as it will go towards the palate. Hold it there for 3 seconds, relax, and do it again. The goal is to completely unfold the diamond so that you can visualize the entire diamond. The fold of the diamond across the middle is the first place it will reattach.
- Place your finger in the middle of the diamond and do a gentle circular stretch for several seconds to dilate or open up the diamond.
- Turn your finger sideways and do a rolling pin motion to try and keep the diamond as deep as possible. Start at the fold “center” of the diamond and move to either side of the diamond top and bottom to loosen up the muscles of the tongue and floor of the mouth.
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