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Oral surgery is done on your teeth, mouth, jaw, and gums. Of all the types of oral surgery, tooth extraction is the most common and may involve the removal of one or more teeth. Your oral surgeon performs the procedure to remove a tooth that’s impacted or deeply damaged by decay. The procedure can also be done to correct an overcrowded mouth or to treat gum disease.
Following the surgery, you need time to recover. During this period, you must carefully follow the oral surgeon’s instructions on what to do after the surgery to optimize healing and prevent infections and other complications.
Healing After Your Oral Surgery
The application of ice and the use of pain medication are the two main ways to alleviate pain and swelling after oral surgery. Your surgeon will tell you how to use ice application to manage the pain and swelling. For example, your surgeon may recommend applying ice packs every 15 minutes on your face—on the area where they performed the surgery.
Your surgeon in McKinney, TX may recommend acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen—or both—depending on the nature of your pain. The oral surgeon may also recommend a 24-hour pain regimen in place of treating pain ad hoc. Doing so avoids opioid use and optimizes pain relief.
Generally, opioids are not recommended as the first option for pain management following oral surgery because they can lead to dependence. These drugs also have side effects such as sedation, respiratory depression, and constipation. However, the surgeon may prescribe an opioid for relieving breakthrough pain in severe situations.
After the surgery, it’s wise to go home and rest. Arrange for someone to take you home; don’t drive yourself because the anesthesia may not have worn off and may impair your driving ability. Likewise, take the day off from school or work. That goes for any other physical activities like working out at the gym.
Some bleeding is expected for up to 24 hours after the surgery. Your surgeon may recommend that you bite down on a piece of damp gauze with firm pressure for 30–60 minutes to alleviate the bleeding. If it doesn’t subside, biting down on a wet tea bag may help.
You will also likely experience some swelling. If this happens, use two or three pillows to prop up your head when you rest or sleep. You can also apply ice packs to manage the swelling.
After a few days, you can resume normal activity. Ease into it. Avoiding rigorously cleaning your teeth and sucking on a straw to avoid potentially dislodging the clot that’s sealing the wound in your mouth.
Oral Hygiene After the Surgery
Your oral surgeon in McKinney, TX will likely advise you to clean your mouth gently following your surgery. Avoid toothpaste. Instead, brush your teeth using warm water and a brush with soft bristles. Rinse your mouth with saltwater or saline solution. Doing so promotes healing and keeps the surgery site clean. Let the warm water solution fall out of your mouth instead of spitting it out.
Prepare the saline solution as follows. Add a tablespoon of salt into a cup of warm water. Avoid swallowing the salt solution. Rinse your mouth throughout the day as much as is necessary. You can go back to your usual oral hygiene routine a few days after the surgery. Start gently. Again, avoid spitting and rigorous rinsing to prevent bleeding.
About a week or so after the procedure, your surgeon may instruct you to use a water-filled syringe to irrigate the tooth extraction site a few times a day to dislodge food particles.
Resuming Normal Activity
You can usually get back to your normal activities at school, work, or the gym two or three days after undergoing oral surgery. The surgeon may also instruct you to eat certain foods and drinks and to stay away from some.
Foods to Eat
Hydrate. Follow your oral surgeon’s recommendations for your diet, which typically includes soft foods and cold liquids for the first two or so days—or longer, in some cases—following the procedure. Foods and liquids to consume include
After a few days, you can start to consume warm and soft foods such as soups and mashed potatoes. Steer clear of crunchy, chewy foods such as carrots and popcorns for the first week. They can irritate the tooth extraction site by getting stuck in there.
Your oral surgeon may instruct you to avoid using a straw for a week or so following the procedure. The suction from the straw might dislodge the blood clot that seals the wound and cause bleeding. Furthermore, your surgeon may recommend food rich in vitamin C or supplement to promote healing.
Foods to Avoid
You may receive anesthesia to numb you during the operation. It might take a few hours to wear off. In some cases, such as wisdom teeth extraction, the anesthesia can take longer to wear off.
Before the numbness wears off, steer clear of hot foods and drinks as they may burn your mouth without you realizing it because of the lack of sensation. Finally, your oral surgeon may want you to avoid smoking and alcohol use at least one or two weeks following the surgery as these habits impair the healing of the wound.
Seek Medical Attention If This Happens After Your Oral Surgery
Even if you follow the post-surgery instructions, issues may arise. Seek immediate medical attention or contact your oral surgeon as soon as you can in case the following problems occur.
- Bleeding that a gauze does not stop.
- Signs of infection that last more than a day following the procedure and pus formation in your mouth.
- Persistent, severe pain despite the use of pain medication.
- Persistent, severe swelling, especially if it interferes with breathing or swallowing.
- Signs of an allergic reaction (e.g., a new rash)
- Persistent numbness in your lips and mouth even after the anesthesia wears off.
A Final Word
If you or someone you’re responsible for undergoes an oral surgery, be sure to follow the oral surgeon’s postoperative instructions strictly. These often involve taking a break for one or more days and taking steps that promote full recovery. Contact NextGen OMS to learn more about oral surgery or schedule an appointment.