Dental surgery can alleviate tooth and jaw pain and other chronic conditions, but it often results in a period of discomfort and inconvenience while your mouth heals. Here are some guidelines to ensure a quick recovery after the Novocain has worn off.
Follow Aftercare Instructions
While many aftercare guidelines are universal, some dental procedures require special handling to heal properly. For example, typically rinsing with warm saltwater is an easy way to keep your mouth clean after surgery. However, your dentist may recommend avoiding oral rinses for several days after you have a procedure like gum grafts or wisdom tooth extraction as the rinsing motion may displace your stitches.
Follow your dentist’s instructions and the guidelines for any prescribed medication. If you have questions about your diet or oral care, wait and call your dentist. Deviating from aftercare instructions could result in pain or costly reconstructive procedures.
Manage Pain and Discomfort
If your dentist did not prescribe any medication, use this method to manage your pain and discomfort. To control swelling, apply a cold pack to the affected area for 15 minutes. Wait at least 15 minutes before reapplying. Repeat until the swelling has slowed. Take over-the-counter painkillers as needed.
Take it easy after your surgery. Don’t do any heavy lifting for two to three days and stay off your feet. When you are lying down, keep your head propped up to avoid excess bleeding or swelling.
Encourage Natural Healing
Mouth injuries heal relatively quickly. But even your mouth needs help sometimes. Here are a few tricks to encourage natural healing and shorten your recovery time:
- Stay Hydrated: When your mouth hurts (or you can’t avoid spilling) it can be tempting to forego fluids. Don’t give in to temptation. Your body needs to be well-hydrated to heal and fight off infection.
- Rinse with Warm Saltwater: Saltwater is a natural disinfectant. Rinse with a solution of one teaspoon salt in a warm glass of water four times a day. This is particularly important after eating; the rinse will remove any food particles from the wound.
- Take Your Vitamins: You may be limited to soft and liquid foods for a little while, but make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin A and vitamin C. Studies have shown that patients who consume higher levels of vitamin C have shorter recovery periods.
- Avoid Substances That are Hard on Your Mouth: Try not to smoke for as long as possible after your surgery. The sucking motion may reopen your wound or dislodge blood clots. Cigarette smoke can also irritate the tissues in your mouth, delaying the healing process.
Avoid alcohol and soda for at least 24 hours. Harsh liquids may weaken or dissolve your surgical dressings.
Use your best judgment when choosing foods for the first week after your surgery. Avoid sticky, crunchy, and sugary foods to give your mouth the time it needs to heal.
Monitor Your Progress
If you follow the aftercare instructions your dentist provides, your mouth should heal without complications. However, there is a risk of infection with most oral surgery. Monitor your pain level, reaction to medication, and healing for at least a week after your procedure so you can catch any dangerous complications right away.
You should contact your dentist (or emergency dentists, like Calgary’s 24-hour Sierra Dental care center) immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:
- an allergic reaction to prescribed antibiotics or painkillers
- displaced wound dressings
- extreme swelling
- intense pain that does not respond to medication
- excessive bleeding
In most cases, the recovery time for oral surgery is short (from 24 to 72 hours). Follow these recovery tips to get yourself back on your feet in no time, with few or no complications.