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oral surgeon explaining post surgery recovery

Recovering Comfortably from Oral Surgery: 10 Strategies

oral surgeon explaining post surgery recovery

Are you having oral surgery in Northern Virginia soon?

You may not realize just how much of a difference the quality of your self-care following surgery will make in your recovery. With good home care, you’ll feel better sooner and avoid potential complications.

From minor procedures like simple tooth extractions to more complex surgical treatments such as dental implants, we want you to know what to expect and what steps you can take for a better, more comfortable recovery.

1. Follow your surgeon’s instructions.

Your oral surgeon will provide you with detailed instructions for post-surgery home care, including how to contact our office regarding any concerns such as swelling, bleeding, or discomfort. Your surgeon will also discuss details such as foods you should avoid and when to return to our office for a follow-up.

Before you leave our office following your surgery, make sure you understand these instructions and that all your questions have been answered.

2. Take your prescriptions as directed.

You may be provided with prescriptions for antibiotics, pain medication, or anti-inflammatories following your procedure. Fill these prescriptions right away and take them as directed to avoid infection and control discomfort and swelling. If you experience unusual side effects or aren’t getting adequate pain relief, please contact our office right away.

3. Manage your swelling with hot and cold compresses.

Following any injury—and that includes intentional injury, like surgery—swelling is natural and normal as your body heals. That doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable, though.

Your surgeon may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication based on your needs, but you can also manage your swelling with warm and cold compresses. For the first 24 to 48 hours, stick to cold compresses in 15-minute increments. If you are still experiencing swelling and discomfort after that time period, switch over to warm compresses, which improve circulation to help with healing.

4. Limit any strenuous activity.

Yes, that means you have permission not to hit the gym for a bit! Strenuous activities and exercise, including running, jogging, heavy lifting, and bending over, can increase your recovery time and may also lead to bleeding at the surgical site. Try substituting a nice walk around the neighborhood for your usual workout routine for the next few days.

5. Practice good oral hygiene.

While your ability to brush and floss your teeth might be limited following oral surgery, you should still keep your mouth clean to lower your risk of infection or other complications. Brush and floss the nonsurgical areas of your mouth as normal, and rinse well after eating to ensure that no food is trapped at the surgical site. Don’t use anything on the surgical site that could disrupt the healing clot, such as a toothbrush, floss, or a water flossing device. That clot is necessary for healing, and dislodging it could lead to a painful complication known as “dry socket.”

Your surgeon may prescribe a rinse or recommend rinsing with saline, which can help promote healing. If so, make sure to use it as directed.

6. Stay away from crunchy or chewy foods.

Plan ahead to make sure you have plenty of soft foods available following surgery since eating hard or crunchy foods can irritate your surgical site, causing you pain and potentially increasing your risk of infection. Good choices to have on hand include hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, oatmeal, cottage cheese, and protein shakes.

When drinking beverages or shakes, don’t use a straw since the sucking action could dislodge the healing clot.

7. No smoking or vaping.

Smoking impedes your body’s ability to heal following surgery. Both cigarettes and vape products have chemicals that restrict blood flow to the area—the opposite of what is needed for healing. Additionally, the action of smoking or vaping is similar to the act of sucking on a straw, as described above, and increases your risk for complications.

Quitting smoking altogether is one of the best decisions you can make for your dental and overall health, but we also understand that it’s hard. If you need assistance quitting or avoiding cigarettes for 72 hours following your surgery, please talk to your surgeon about the best options for you.

8. Return to our office as instructed.

Don’t miss your follow-up appointments! These visits allow your surgeon to check your surgical site, make sure your healing is progressing as expected, and look for any potential signs of infection or other complications. Your post-op appointments are also an excellent opportunity for you to check in with your surgeon regarding any concerns or questions.

9. Get plenty of rest.

Your body requires time to heal following surgery. Be kind to yourself and take that time. Avoid stressful situations, if possible, and take plenty of breaks. If you feel fatigued, get extra sleep. We recommend taking a couple of days off work so you can put your focus where you need it most—on resting and healing.

10. Have patience!

Even though you know that your surgery is important for your overall health, you might feel frustrated by the time healing requires. Be careful not to push yourself too hard or eat foods you’re not ready for. Have faith in the healing process; your body can do remarkable things!

As long as you follow the instructions of your surgeon in Northern Virginia, your healing following your oral surgery should be a smooth process. No matter what type of surgical procedure you’re having, we’re here for you to help ensure that your surgery goes well and you get the care you need for better health and wellbeing. If you’re ever concerned about how your healing is going, check in with us. We’re here to help.

Are you ready to take the next steps? Give us a call today to schedule your consultation.

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