Oral surgery can be no different from surgery you receive at a hospital. Anesthesia gets used, and both require a recovery process. Types of oral surgeries you might encounter include teeth extractions, implants, biopsies, and periodontal surgery. Regardless of the oral surgery you’re receiving, a smooth recovery is vital for healing. Don’t be nervous about what will happen after your procedure—prepare yourself by using the helpful tips in this article.
Take All of Your Medications per the Surgeon’s Instructions
Depending on the oral surgery you receive, your surgeon could prescribe you antibiotics or pain medication. Immediately after surgery, it might not seem like you need these medications, but in a few hours or a day, you will realize that you do. It’s imperative that you take all your meds per the surgeon’s instructions to avoid complications.
On a side note, if you’re taking antibiotics, ensure you finish every pill in the bottle. Skipping a dose or choosing to forgo the medication because you feel better is never what you should do. While you might feel better, the bacteria could still be present within your immune system, and stopping the antibiotics early could cause an infection to return.
If you did not receive a prescribed medication and still experience pain, you can use over-the-counter alternatives, like acetaminophen, to help with this—typically, oral pain will last for around 48 hours.
Be Mindful of Your Surgical Site
After your surgery, you must be mindful of your surgical site to avoid disturbing or reopening the wound. This might include limiting how much you talk, eat, and drink during the first few hours after surgery. Additionally, your surgeon could give you other basic instructions to help speed up your recovery. For example, they might ask you to use mouthwash to clean your teeth the first two days after surgery to avoid brushing over the surgical site with the bristles on your toothbrush. Remember to follow all post-op care instructions for a smoother recovery from oral surgery.
Take It Easy and Rest
Do not, no matter how tempting it is, schedule any other plans on the day of your oral surgery in Los Angeles—not even work! It’s essential that you take the first 24 hours afterward to rest and recover as much as possible. You will be sorry if you make plans with anyone because you will likely be in far too much pain.
Look at these next 24 hours as an opportunity to do all the lazy things you feel guilty about doing during the week. Lay down on the couch, prop up your head, and throw on your favorite Netflix show or movie; you even have permission to take a nap! Usually, many patients can resume their normal activities after 24 hours but avoid strenuous activities for at least a week after surgery.
Reduce Swelling With Cold Compresses
While resting on the couch, you might notice your face swelling. Don’t worry; holding a cold compress to the outside of your surgical site can help reduce inflammation, bruising, and discomfort. You should do this on and off for 24-48 hours after surgery. Most surgeons recommend leaving the ice on your face for at least 15 minutes to receive the full benefits of the cold compress.
Wrap your cold compress in a dish towel, so the ice isn’t directly touching your skin.
Avoid Tobacco and Alcohol
Tobacco and alcohol are never great for your recovery because they can limit your progress and interfere with the healing process. You should avoid smoking tobacco for as long as possible to prevent complications. For example, if you had your wisdom teeth removed, smoking afterward could cause dry sockets (which is very painful) due to the sucking motion when you take a puff from a cigarette or e-cigarette. This might be the perfect time to consider quitting!
Avoid alcohol for as long as possible, at least for the first 24 hours. However, if you are taking medication, you need to eliminate your alcohol intake until you are no longer taking those medications.
Keep Hydrating Yourself
Your body is recovering after surgery, and you can help by keeping yourself hydrated. You should be drinking water and fluids as much as possible. Remember, do not use a straw for drinking because the suction can irritate your wound. Furthermore, avoid drinks with caffeine, carbonation, or hot temperatures for 24 hours after surgery.
Eat a Diet With Softer Foods
Do you see a running theme here? The most critical part of your recovery is not disturbing the surgical site/wound. Therefore, remove any sharp, crunchy, chewy, or hot foods from your diet for the first week after surgery. Stick to eating softer foods like mashed potatoes, butter noodles, cottage cheese, pudding, yogurt, etc.
Don’t forget to stock your pantry and fridge before the surgery so you don’t need to worry about what to eat afterward.
Maintain Your Oral Hygiene
It’s understandable that maintaining oral hygiene after surgery can be difficult when your mouth is sore. It’s still a crucial step in your recovery process because you need to keep the surgical site clean to avoid an infection or complications. For the first 24 hours, your surgeon might instruct you to leave your oral health as is and start your routine again the following day. Remember to listen to the surgeon’s instructions, such as whether they tell you to use mouthwash the first couple of days or avoid brushing near the wound.
You should also swish your mouth with salt water several times throughout the day. The salt will inhibit the growth of bacteria around the surgical site to prevent an infection. After every meal, you should swish with salt water to loosen any food particles sticking to or around your wound. You can make your own salt water by filling up a cup with lukewarm water and pouring in half a teaspoon of salt—mix the solution with a spoon and swish for one minute.
Regardless of the type of surgery, rest and recovery are paramount to your healing process. It’s also worth noting that not everyone handles the recovery the same, and some might have more or fewer complications than the next person. Have patience and treat yourself with respect—you deserve to rest after major oral surgery. Better prepare yourself for surgery day by understanding how you can help create a smoother recovery.