Oral surgery is often performed as an outpatient procedure, but the fact that you’re not staying in a hospital doesn’t mean you can skimp on your recovery. Just the opposite, procedures like tooth extractions, tooth implants, and wisdom teeth removal require care and attention to your body. At Implant and Comprehensive Dentistry in Champions Gate and Winter Haven, FL, we’re here to guide you through the steps of both surgery and recovery.
What Should You Avoid Before and After Oral Surgery?
While oral surgery might seem less critical than other procedures, such as open-heart surgery, it is an operation nonetheless. Following some guidelines will help you prepare for the procedure itself and encourage a speedier recovery. For instance, fasting for six hours before your appointment will reduce any risk of aspiration. This means avoiding foods and beverages, including water.
You must also refrain from smoking for at least 12 hours. It’s ideal to reduce or stop tobacco use as soon as possible before surgery; cigarettes restrict blood flow in a way that can interfere with healing. Smoking also reduces your lung and heart function, meaning you could have breathing trouble during or after surgery. And, finally, cigarettes put you at greater risk for developing pneumonia in the days following your operation.
Don’t Clam Up During Conversations
Don’t leave with unasked questions. Many patients listen intently when we provide information about the surgery, anesthesia, and recovery time, but few ask questions for fear of looking silly. It’s important to engage in conversation with our staff so we have a clear picture of your medical history and you feel comfortable. Knowledge will also help you avoid complications. We encourage you to ask questions regarding the:
- Likely outcomes of your procedure
- Type of anesthetic to be used
- Technologies to be used with your surgery
- Procedures in place to protect against infection
Don’t Wear Jewelry and Other Accessories
We’ll likely ask you to remove any jewelry you’ve worn, so it’s best to avoid rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings altogether. Metal can interfere with your procedure, including the technique we use to electrically seal bleeding vessels and any imaging we may need to perform. Also avoid wearing makeup or lipstick, although you’ll want to bring lip balm as your lips may be dry after surgery.
We ask that, out of courtesy, you not wear colognes, perfumes, or body sprays. Leave the contact lenses at home, and feel free to pin back your hair if it is especially long.
Your body will need to heal in the days and weeks after surgery, which means you should avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise. Overexerting yourself can dislodge blood clots that form as you heal.
Additionally, don’t poke at sutures or holes in your mouth. This means no probing with a toothpick or your tongue, as either can provoke bleeding and delay your recovery. Poking may also lead to dry socket, a condition that can follow a tooth extraction if you’re not careful. This happens when the blood clot that forms in the place of the tooth becomes dislodged and exposes underlying nerves and bone.
Food and Drink
Don’t eat hot foods or beverages until your mouth is no longer numb. Doing so can burn the tissues in your mouth and keep you from eating beneficial foods like blended soups and broths. In this same vein, skip crunchy foods like carrots and popcorn for six to eight weeks. Hard textures can damage the work we’ve performed and put you at risk for needing to repeat the procedure.
As for beverages, forego alcohol for at least 24 hours; it acts as a blood thinner in the body and can impede the healing process. And as long as you take pain medications, you’ll want to swap alcoholic drinks for herbal tea (hot or cold) and water. The former contains antioxidants, and fennel tea in particular has shown to improve surgical outcomes. Water helps flush away toxins and improves blood flow.
Avoid using straws and smoking for as long as possible after surgery. Both can apply negative pressure within your mouth and dislodge blood clots, as we discussed earlier. To be clear, any sucking motion can cause additional bleeding and delay healing. If you need help with smoking cessation, let us know so we can provide additional guidance.
Because heat can increase swelling, we recommend you not apply hot compresses or water to your face unless we have specifically told you to do so. This includes spicy foods – leave them off your plate for about a week. Last but not least, do not brush, floss, or rinse the site of your surgery until we provide clearance.
What You Can Do Before Surgery
Now that we’ve covered what you can’t do before surgery, we’re free to provide guidance on what you can do. Let’s start with clothing – it’s best to wear a loose-fitting shirt, pull-on pants, and low-heeled shoes to keep you comfortable. Although we will do everything possible to avoid staining your garments, spills during oral surgery do occasionally happen. Wearing something you don’t mind seeing stained is therefore a good idea.
We’d like to circle back to the topic of free-flowing conversation between you and our staff; it’s important you tell us if you take any oral medications so we can plan your procedure accordingly. Blood thinners, for instance, may need to be stopped before surgery to prevent excessive bleeding.
Plan Your Food Menu
A trip to the grocery store will allow you to purchase a variety of foods to eat during your recovery. You’ll have a fairly strict diet to follow for about a week; after that, you’ll likely be able to return to those foods you routinely eat. Some soft and nourishing items to stock up on include:
- Mashed potatoes
- Greek yogurt
- Scrambled eggs
- Mashed bananas
- Cottage cheese
- Macaroni and cheese
- Soft sandwiches
We mentioned soups and broths earlier, and you should have several of those on hand as well. They’ll help keep you hydrated and are easy to prepare. Smoothies can incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables to give you much-needed vitamins, and protein drinks make for healthy snacks without any chewing. But, again, remember to avoid straws.
Make Proper Arrangements
If your surgery falls on a weekday, you may need to take a day or two from work so you can rest. We will discuss this in greater detail during your consultation, once we’ve determined the best procedure for your specific needs. Also, have a friend or family member who can drive you home and stay with you for several hours after surgery. You won’t be able to drive for 24 hours following anesthesia.
If you have young children or pets, you might want to arrange overnight care for them. This can relieve any angst you feel about preparing their meals or ensuring they’re properly looked after – and it will give you a quiet house in which to rest.
Cancel If Necessary
If you wake on the day of surgery and don’t feel well, it’s best to call our office and ask for advice on whether or not you should keep your appointment. Sneezing and a runny nose will make it difficult to move forward with surgery, and you don’t want to infect others. Allergies can be controlled by taking an oral antihistamine in advance, but you’ll need to advise our staff if you have done so.
Symptoms of flu, on the other hand, are reasons to cancel without hesitation. Call us immediately if you develop:
- Sore throat
- Muscle or body aches
Rest and Arrive Early
Getting a good night’s sleep is key to helping you prepare for your appointment. Your body will be fully rested, and you’ll feel clear-headed. Also plan to arrive at your appointment 15 minutes early. This will allow time to complete last-minute paperwork and ask any lingering questions you have.
Steps You Can Take After Surgery
We’re repeating ourselves here but want to reiterate that you must stick to a regimen of soft foods for about a week. Pudding and gelatin are additional suggestions we didn’t mention earlier. And rest when you feel tired. Fatigue is your body’s way of telling you it needs a break, and although it’s hard to slow down in today’s fast-paced world, the days after surgery are times when you must do so for your own well-being.
We’ll provide guidelines for when you should return to your normal routine, including going back to work, once more hitting the gym, and driving. In the meantime, feel free to engage in gentle walking and stretching. Both will get your body moving and improve circulation, an essential component to your healing.
Stay Hydrated and Elevated
Letting your mouth dry out can interfere with healing. The best way to prevent this is by staying hydrated; drink plenty of fluids – remember the tea and water we mentioned earlier – but skip caffeine and sugar. Neither replenishes the fluids and electrolytes you need and can instead cause further dehydration.
Keep your head and shoulders raised above waist level at all times, even while sleeping, to reduce any swelling that might occur. A triangle-shaped pillow for your bed can help, or you can prop your pillows at a 45-degree angle to keep your head elevated.
A Few More Tips
Although you may not be able to brush, floss, or use mouthwash for several days, oral hygiene is still important. We’ll likely recommend you rinse your mouth with warm salt water after each meal 24 hours after your procedure. This will speed healing and help keep tissues clean.
Additionally, you should follow pain medication instructions even if you aren’t experiencing any discomfort. The medication is prescribed in a way that will reduce inflammation and help you eat. Following instructions for the time specified will help you heal more quickly.
Call With Questions
If you have any questions throughout your recovery, don’t hesitate to call our office. We’re available to address your concerns, provide advice, and schedule appointments if necessary. Don’t feel that any question is too trivial – we want you to feel safe and comfortable at all times.
Care For Your Mouth
If you follow the instructions we provide, your oral surgery will go smoothly. Even starting on day one, it’s important you care for your mouth in a way that protects the work done and allows you to recover more quickly. Rest, eat soft foods, stay hydrated, and take your medications as prescribed. Schedule your consultation today by calling Implant and Comprehensive Dentistry in Champions Gate and Winter Haven, FL.