The first few days after oral surgery are the roughest. While the surgery may have been necessary, such as a wisdom tooth extraction or dental implants, the recovery process may not be as easy. That’s why it’s pivotal that you recover the right way. Follow the instructions given to you by your dentist or oral surgeon, and be mindful of the factors that can hinder your recovery process.
What You Should Do
Take It Easy
Rest is one of the most important factors for oral surgery recovery. It’s most likely that you’ll receive a sedative to provide pain relief. Sedatives often make people drowsy, so you should avoid operating a vehicle or participating in any physical activities.
Your body needs rest to avoid dislodging the blood clots that are keeping the wounds in your mouth from bleeding. While you rest, remember to keep your head elevated with an extra pillow, even when you sleep. Keeping your head propped up can reduce swelling and promote blood clotting. The take-home instructions should clarify how long to keep your head elevated, but it’s typically around 24 hours or more.
Take Recommended Medications
The healing process isn’t always pretty. You may feel a significant amount of pain from your oral surgery if you don’t stay on top of taking your prescribed pain medication and antibiotics, especially within the first day of oral recovery.
As mentioned above, you’ll receive printed post operative instructions and additional gauze. Follow the instructions closely and take the pain meds even if you aren’t feeling any pain. It’s much easier to prevent the pain rather than treat it when it occurs. You may also be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection.
Ice Your Face
Depending on the oral surgery, you can experience minor bruising and swelling in your face. Don’t worry; swelling is perfectly normal. To reduce the inflammation, apply an ice pack or cold compress to your jaw for 30 minutes, remove for 15, and repeat. You should be icing your face within the first 24 hours of your recovery to reduce swollen tissues.
Stick With Soft Foods
You’ll find out quickly that your oral surgery will affect how you eat food. You may experience stiffness or soreness in your jaw and mouth. Your wounds will be extremely tender during the early days of your healing process, which is why you’ll want to stick to a soft food/liquid diet.
This includes the following soft foods:
- Apple sauce
- Ice cream
- Mashed potatoes
- Mashed bananas or avocados
It’s essential that you should also stay hydrated and drink a lot of water as you recover from oral surgery. Your dentist may instruct you to avoid drinking through straws as you begin to heal. The suction from a straw can cause the blood clot in your wounds to dislodge. A dislodged blood clot could mean dealing with a dry socket or infection, and trust us when we say that neither option is fun.
Monitor Your Surgery Sites
As you’re recovering from oral surgery, monitor your surgery sites to ensure there aren’t any signs of infection. Call your dentist as soon as possible if you notice that your pain is worsening, you’re developing a fever, or you’re having difficulty breathing.
It’s also paramount that you maintain good oral hygiene while in recovery. To keep your mouth clean, you may start rinsing with warm salt water 1-2 times daily, after the surgical site has healed for a few days. The warm water and salt will help dislodge any food from the surgical sites and fight off bacteria. In most cases, it is recommended to continue brushing your teeth. When brushing, try not to push too hard around the surgical site, as you want to avoid opening up your wounds.
What You Shouldn’t Do
Don’t Push It
Remember, you need to rest while you’re healing. That means no physical activities like hitting the gym or going for a jog. Over-exerting yourself with strenuous activities can negatively impact your recovery time. The Canadian Dental Association recommends avoiding physical activity for at least two full days after oral surgery.
Avoid Crunchy Foods
Part of recovering from oral surgery includes avoiding crunchy foods. That means staying away from:
- Chips and crackers
- Crunchy fruits and vegetables
- Hot food
- Spicy foods
- Hard and sticky candies
- Tough meats
The pressure from tender meats or hard nuts can interfere with your healing. That’s why you’re better off with softer foods for the first couple of weeks. Spicy foods, as tasty as they can be, are also something you need to avoid. The spices can harm your wounds and keep them from healing.
No Smoking or Alcohol
If you’re a smoker, you’ll have to avoid cigarettes for the first 72 hours after an oral surgery procedure. We understand this could be a serious challenge for the heavy smokers out there, but smoking while recovering from oral surgery can keep your wounds from healing and potentially lead to dry sockets.
You should also avoid consuming alcohol for 24 hours after you’ve had surgery. However, if you’re on pain medication or antibiotics, alcohol could interfere with and slow down its efficiency, so you may need to refrain for a longer time. Maintaining oral health after surgery is pivotal to ensuring your wounds heal properly. Neglecting care can lead to serious oral health issues that may require more surgeries. That’s why you should visit your Saskatoon dental clinic to receive regular check-ups and teeth cleanings that will help promote your oral health and proud smile.