In many ways, having oral surgery is similar to having surgery on any other area of your body. You’ll be given an anesthetic that at the very least numbs your mouth, if it doesn’t put you completely under. Your oral surgeon will also give you a number of specific instructions after the surgery to help you heal as quickly as possible and to help minimize any issues or complications from the surgery. These tips and instructions are meant to make the recovery period as comfortable as possible.
Controlling Bleeding and Swelling
Bleeding is common and to be expected after oral surgery, whether you are having impacted wisdom teeth removed or are having a relatively routine tooth extraction. The amount of blood you see might seem alarming, but that is usually because it combines with saliva in your mouth and looks more voluminous that it is in reality.
You can do a number of things to help control or minimize the bleeding after your procedure. The surgeon will most likely give you pieces of gauze to place over the surgical site and to bite down upon. Although your surgeon might give you a decent supply of gauze, it can be helpful to stock up on it before the surgery, so that you have plenty. Usually, it’s recommended that you keep the gauze in place for several hours after surgery, changing it every 30 minutes or so, when it becomes saturated.
Swelling also occurs after oral surgery and can be minimized or controlled by keeping your head as elevated as possible. Sleep with a few pillows under your head to keep it up and try to avoid lying down when you can. Placing a cold compress on area can also help keep swelling down. You’ll get the most benefit from the cold compress if you use it on the day of surgery.
What To (and What Not to) Eat or Drink
You’ll most likely need to adjust your diet for the first few days after surgery. Trying to eat crunchy or even any type of solid food a day or two after oral surgery can be pretty uncomfortable. Work your way up from completely liquid foods, such as milkshakes and smoothies, to very soft foods such as cottage cheese, refried beans, and pudding, to semi-soft foods such as cooked pasta and eggs during the first days after your procedure.
You can expect to start eating regularly again about a week after the procedure. But, you might want to continue to avoid spicy or very acidic foods for some time after that. It’s also usually recommended that you avoid drinking alcohol immediately after your surgery.
Look Out for Pressure
You should avoid some activities right after surgery because they create a negative pressure in your mouth, which can dislodge any blood clots that are forming to help your gums heal. For example, using a straw creates a negative force in the mouth and should be avoided. Smoking should be avoided for a number of reasons, not least of which because the action of sucking on the cigarette creates pressure in the mouth.
The good news about oral surgery is that its recovery period isn’t as long as recovery from other types of surgery. That doesn’t mean that you’ll be back on your feet immediately afterwards, though. It’s just as important to give your body time to rest up and recover. Typically, oral surgeons advise limiting activity for at least the first day after the procedure. You might feel up to resuming some activities or heading back into work the next day, depending on what you do. If you have a very active job, you might need to take another day or two off.
Cleaning Your Mouth
While maintaining a good oral care routine is important after your surgery, your surgeon will most likely give you specific directions for how to care for the surgical area. For the most part, you can expect him to recommend not brushing or flossing in the area for at least several days. Brushing in the area can cause you to dislodge the blood clot. Instead, he’ll most likely recommend that you use a piece of gauze to wipe the area clean and remove any pieces of food or other debris.
The Miami practice of Dr. John Paul Gallardo recently added an oral surgeon, Dr. Juan Arroyo. If you are concerned about the state of your wisdom teeth or need oral surgery for any other reason, contact their practice today. Call (305) 447-1447 for a consultation.