A successful recovery from oral surgery is essential for proper healing and long-lasting results. Although you might have some anxiety about what to expect after surgery, your recovery will be smooth and steady if you make it your top priority. Our dos and don’ts will prepare you for your role in managing your recovery. And you will be ready to minimize your pain, increase your comfort, and help your mouth heal quickly.
Things to Do to Recover from Oral Surgery
What you do after oral surgery can affect how you feel and how your mouth heals. Below are six things you can do to ease your recovery.
Take it easy for at least 24 hours after oral surgery, preferably closer to 72 hours. Any pain, swelling, bleeding, or soreness you experience will improve if you let your body focus on healing. You may also be drowsy after surgery. Resting helps you avoid the risk of accidents or injuries when you are not alert.
2. Take Medication As Directed
If your oral surgeon prescribes a pain reliever, antibiotics, or anti-nausea medication, take it as directed. Most of your discomfort should peak within 48 to 72 hours and gradually improve. So remember that you may be sorer on post-operative day two or three than you are on the day of your surgery – this is normal – do not let it alarm you. Take medicine with food to minimize nausea or other uncomfortable side effects.
3. Keep Your Mouth Clean
On the day of surgery, change the gauze pads in your mouth until the bleeding stops or is minimal. The day after surgery, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water every few hours to wash away food particles and debris. You may need to continue the rinse for the next day or two. Begin gently brushing your teeth with a manual toothbrush the day after your surgery. Take care to avoid the surgical site while brushing. If your surgeon prescribes an antibiotic mouthwash, start using it the day after surgery.
4. Apply a Cold Compress
For the first 24 to 72 hours after oral surgery, apply an ice pack, cold compress, or a pack of frozen peas on your cheek near the surgical site. Using cold packs 15-20 minutes at a time helps minimize swelling. And swelling will gradually decrease in about five days.
5. Elevate Your Head
Keep your head slightly elevated on the night of oral surgery to relieve pressure around your surgical sites and reduce blood flow to your head. Elevation can reduce pain, swelling, and bleeding. If it helps you sleep more comfortably, continue elevating your head for the next night or two.
6. Eat soft foods
After removing the gauze, you can drink liquids and gradually eat soft, nutritious cool, or room-temperature foods. Chew away from the surgical sites, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and promote healing.
Things to Avoid When Recovering from Oral Surgery
While recovering from oral surgery, you can minimize factors that lead to complications. These include:
Avoid heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, and exercising for at least a week after oral surgery. The pressure from exertion can cause brisk bleeding, prevent blood clot formation, and increase swelling.
2. Ignoring Persistent Bleeding, Pain, or Fever
Do not ignore symptoms after oral surgery that last longer than your post-op instructions state. For example, persistent or increased bleeding, pain, swelling, or fever may be signs and symptoms of an infection. Call your oral surgeon’s office to report the issue.
3. Food That Can Delay Healing
Eating hot, spicy, or acidic foods after oral surgery can irritate your gum tissue and delay healing. Avoid them until your gums heal—usually in about a week. Also, do not eat hard or sticky foods because they can cling to your teeth, break into pieces, and irritate your surgical site.
4. Disturbing the Surgical Site
Avoid sucking through a straw, aggressively rinsing your mouth, and spitting for the first 72 hours after oral surgery to prevent blood clots from loosening. Rinse gently in the following days. Also, avoid touching the site with your finger, toothbrush, floss, or anything else because it might cause irritation.
Smoking restricts blood flow, slows the healing process, and affects overall oral surgery success. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) recommends that you avoid smoking during the healing process.
6. Drinking Alcoholic Beverages
Drinking alcohol after oral surgery can conflict with your medication. It can thin your blood, weaken blood clots, and delay healing. Therefore, most oral surgeons recommend avoiding alcoholic beverages for a least 48 hours after surgery. But refraining from them throughout the healing process supports recovery.
Request an Oral Surgery Consultation
If you are considering oral surgery and live near Fairhope, AL, Dr. David Minto and his team can help. Contact us to schedule a consultation.