When you have any kind of oral surgery, there will be some recovery time. Just how long that recovery time takes and what’s involved with the process will depend on the type of procedure that was done. Whether you have a tooth removed or dental implants placed, there are some simple steps to take during the recovery process to keep yourself as comfortable as possible while making sure your mouth heals properly. Below, Flintlock Dental will take a look at some of the general dos and don’ts to follow after an oral surgery.
The Dos of Oral Surgery Recovery
- Rest - After your oral surgery, you will probably experience some swelling and tenderness. The first step to recovery is to take it easy. You need to plan on spending the remainder of your surgery day resting. Some recovery medications and pain relievers can leave you drowsy. Don’t bend or try to lift anything heavy, especially on that first day, to take the pressure off your surgical site. Avoid driving yourself anywhere or doing anything that takes too much concentration.
- Follow Instructions - Your doctor will give you instructions for post-surgery, and it’s crucial to follow all of them. They may tell you how long you have to wait until you can brush your teeth or to rinse every so often with salt water. They are giving you these instructions because it will help speed up the healing process and/or reduce the chance of complications. Follow all of these instructions for as long as you’re told to do so.
- Ice It - It’s normal to have some swelling and even some light bruising on your face after undergoing oral surgery. It can be helpful to put ice on your jaw for 30 minutes, then remove it for 15. (Don’t put the ice directly on your skin - cover it with a thin cloth.) If you had surgery on both sides of your mouth, alternate icing each side. Doing this several times during the first 24 hours can help keep the swelling and bruising to a minimum.
- Block the Blood - You will likely have surgical gauze placed in your mouth at the location of the incisions. This is to improve clotting and help stop the bleeding. To replace the gauze, remove the old piece. Then fold a fresh piece in half, and gently place it over the surgical area. If you notice that the bleeding is not improving or is getting worse after 24 hours, call your doctor for further instructions.
- Watch what you Eat - There are certain types of food that you should avoid consuming right after your surgery. Usually it’s best to eat cool/cold, soft foods after oral surgery. Applesauce, yogurt, and instant oatmeal are good options.
The Don’ts of Oral Surgery Recovery
- Don’t Ignore Your Doctor’s Orders - Follow all of your surgeon’s instructions exactly. Straying from them or dismissing them altogether can lead to unnecessary pain and, sometimes, return visits to the dentist.
- Avoid Hot, Spicy Foods - Soft and cool foods are recommended for that first 24 hours post-surgery.
- Don’t Smoke – Smoking after oral surgery can lead to dry sockets and infections. If you’re a smoker, stock up on some nicotine patches and try your best to avoid smoking for a solid five days after any type of oral surgery.
- Avoid Alcohol Consumption - Drinking alcohol can interfere with the healing process and doesn’t mix well with painkillers. Stick with water for as long as you can after your surgery.
Signs of Complications after Oral Surgery
After any type of surgery, you should be on the lookout for major or minor complications. The sooner you get a problem checked out by your doctor, the easier it will be to treat. Don’t leave a seemingly innocent symptom to fester without consulting with your physician! Here are some things to look out for after oral surgery:
- Lingering Swelling - While some swelling and bruising is common after surgery, you should see it improve within the first 24 hours. If the swelling remains the same or gets worse, check back in with the surgeon to see what’s going on.
- Extreme Pain - There is usually some lingering pain after any oral surgery, but that pain should not be excruciating or unmanageable after the first couple of weeks. If you’re still having sharp pains or the pain cannot be managed with your prescribed medication, you need to see your doctor to make sure that there’s no infection or other complication going on.
Take care of yourself after having oral surgery, and make sure you do everything your surgeon tells you to do. If you follow these guidelines, you will speed up the healing process and get back on your feet in no time. Make sure you go to your post-op appointment(s), so the surgeon can make sure everything is healing correctly. And as always, remember to brush your teeth twice a day, floss, and schedule your regular dental check-ups!
If you’re interested in more information on dentistry and oral health, check out Flintlock Dental’s other blogs, such as this one that goes over the basics of root canals!