Most acute oral and facial infections (viral, bacterial or fungal) would be expected to fully resolve within 7 to 14 days.
In some instances (some viral infections) this will be spontaneous without active treatment directed at the infecting organism. In most cases an antibacterial or antifungal agent will be used.
Generally speaking, an anti-infective agent, if effective in that infection will have a noticeable effect within 24 to 48 hours. If not, it is probably not doing all it needs to, either because it is not active against that infecting organism or because the active infection is walled off in an abscess which needs to be actively drained. Drainage is instantly effective, and usually within a few hours signs and symptoms improve unless there is progress into full blown sepsis.
- Short term: abscess drainage often creates more swelling but pain, raised temperature and other signs and symptoms improve.
- Medium term: a drain may need to stay in place for 24 to 48 hours or even longer (an old but useful adage is to remove a drain ‘when it stops draining’ – within common sense limits this is actually quite useful). Swelling resolves over a 10 to14 day period.
- Long term: drain incision sites can heal with lumpy or hypertrophic scars and may need revision.
Chronic infections, however, by their very nature are completely unpredictable in terms of describing a timeline to resolution. So once again: speak to your treating clinician.