Oral surgery aftercare is an important part of your dental health. While most people would like to avoid it, the reality is the vast majority of us are likely to have some form of minor or major dental surgery in our lifetimes. There are a few things in particular that set dental surgery apart from other forms of surgery that need to be accounted for during your recovery. As I have stated numerous times across my site for services like oral surgery, tooth extractions, surgical TMJ interventions, gummy smile treatments, and dental implants, it is very important to get rest after you have any form of dental or oral surgery.
It is not uncommon to feel drained after your surgery, which is your body’s not-so-subtle way of telling you to take it easy. Even if your surgery was relatively minor, such as a simple tooth extraction or a gum lift, it is still a good idea to relax and enjoy yourself. Odds are good that you will have minor, residual pain and feel lethargic, so it is advised that you take this time to rest. Other oral surgeries which are more intensive, such as those involved with full mouth restorations, may require you to take at least a few days of total bed rest, simply because of the trauma that many surgeries may cause. By being inactive and relaxing, you give yourself an opportunity to heal and come out with a favorable outcome that much faster.
If you have packing, gauze, or stitches, it is important to not play with them, as you can inadvertently re-open a clot or incision that may cause profuse bleeding or make healing slower. If you have gauze, remove it only after the period of time which I or one of my assistants tell you. This is usually half an hour to an hour.
We also give you packing for a reason — to absorb blood and make sure that clots for properly. Do not disturb it. Be very careful when brushing and rinsing if you have had a tooth extracted or major oral surgery. You can dislodge or dissolve a clot very easily which can lead to something called dry socket if not taken care of properly. Of course, this is most common in wisdom tooth extractions because of their location, but they can happen with any extraction.
I recommend rinsing with slightly saline water for the first day or two after an extraction or oral surgery to make sure that you don’t dislodge or aggravate anything. Lean over the sink or other receptacle for fluids and let it simply flow out of your mouth. Spitting or trying to force it out may cause additional pain or a clot to become dislodged. In a few days, your socket should heal over and you will ready to complete your treatment plan or continue on with your life. I also recommend avoiding spicy and hard foods during this time as well. Plain, soft foods like eggs, macaroni, and soups are good options. Trying to eat hard or spicy foods will aggravate your surgery site and be uncomfortable. Sharp corners on food particulates may also result in pain and the potential for infection. Also avoid alcohol and smoking if at all possible.
For pain, minor OTC painkillers like Aspirin, Motrin, or Tylenol should be taken, and I can prescribe a short course of painkillers if it is deemed necessary. Sometimes patients who undergo more major oral surgery will be given this from the get-go, as the discomfort will disturb and interrupt the healing process. You should also use ice packs and warm moist towels to alleviate swelling and numb pain, if you feel the need to. Bed rest and keeping any activity light for the first few days will be important. You will likely be able to resume your normal activities after about a week.
Do not work out during this period, I recommend waiting 7 days before resuming any fitness regimen.