Q: How can you control a hematoma?
A. Apply heat for 20 minutes
B. Apply ice for 2 minutes
C. Alternate ice and heat
D. All the above
First of all, what is a hematoma? A hematoma is the outflow of blood into extravascular spaces. In dentistry, a hematoma can occur when the needle damages the blood vessels during an injection. The density of the tissue dictates how the hematoma develops: if the tissue is dense, the spread will be limited; if the tissue is loose, the spread will be more severe. Below is the most important information you should know for the Dental Assistant Board Exams:
- A hematoma can cause trismus, swelling, pain, and discoloration of the skin into a blue / purple hue.
- When swelling occurs, apply direct pressure and ice for at least 2 minutes to stop the bleeding.
- Heat should be avoided the first day as this can spread the blood by vasodilation to surrounding areas, but heat can be applied the next day as vasodilation can help with blood resorption.
- A hematoma usually resolves on its own within 7-14 days.
Answer: (B). Apply ice for 2 minutes
While we’re at it, let’s review one condition that needs the opposite – warm compressions. Have you heard of trismus? It is the inability to open the mouth fully due to spasm of the jaw muscles. Trismus can be caused by:
- Prolonged opening of the jaw
- Dental injections if muscles are perforated
- Infections that spread to the tissues
To alleviate the condition, apply warm compresses and recommend muscle relaxants. Also tell the patient to exercise the jaw several times a day (e.g., chewing gums) or to massage the area. Just like a hematoma, the condition should resolve on its own rather quickly.
Medical Emergencies can appear in dental assistant board exams (GC - See the GC curriculum from SmarterDA Dental Assisting Board Exam Review). Every course we have at SmarterDA is made up of information that is concise, no “blablabla” because that’s a waste of time. We want to give you just what you need to learn in a simple format. We want you to pass the dental assisting exams (RHS®, GC, ICE®, CP, NDAEB! Email me at ClaireJ@SmarterDA.com and support@SmarterDA.com in case you have questions!
Author: Claire RDH, CDA, MS
Claire is the founder of StudentRDH and SmarterDA – exams prep solutions for the dental hygiene and dental assisting students. The exam review online solutions quickly became the #1 choice among students. “Studying is now “addictive!”
Prior to her career in the dental field, Claire Jeong was an education specialist at Boston Children’s Museum. Claire is licensed to practice in the United States and Canada. She can be reached at ClaireJ@SmarterDA.com and support@SmarterDA.com.