Recovery after oral surgery differs from person to person. While I don’t perform complicated oral surgery at THE SCIENCE OF SMILES® (I refer to a highly reputable oral surgeon in Pasadena), I do tell patients that it generally takes two to three weeks to recover. In most cases, the pain should mitigate by the second day.
If you are anticipating an oral surgical procedure, and are apprehensive about recovery – here are a few tips to give you some peace of mind. The good news: Recovery after oral surgery can be a piece of cake!
Control bleeding. Following surgery, continued bleeding may be normal for approximately two hours. Your oral surgeon will place a gauze pad over the wound to cut down on the bleeding. Continue to keep constant pressure on the area to help stop bleeding, even if the gauze gets soggy. After an hour, switch out the gauze pad for a new one. If the bleeding does not stop within two hours, contact me or the oral surgeon, although remember that spotty bleeding may occur from time to time within the first few days of your recovery.
For pain, swelling and bruising, take the medication that the oral surgeon has prescribed. It is normal to have tenderness and pain after oral surgery. Start taking the pain medication following the procedure to proactively prevent pain- don’t wait until you are in extreme pain! If you are not prescribed painkillers, over-the-counter ibuprofen might be appropriate. Ice packs, applied to your face in 15 minute intervals, may also help mitigate pain and reduce swelling and bruising during oral surgery recovery.
Take it easy and rest following your procedure. After any oral surgery, you should go home, relax and avoid any strenuous or taxing activities. You should not exercise for 12-24 hours and avoid heaving lifting for 2-3 days. If you want to lie down, prop your head up with pillows to alleviate swelling and the risk of excess bleeding.
Clean your mouth carefully and gently. For the first 24 hours, you should not rinse your mouth. After that period, rinse your mouth gently with warm salt water four to five times a day over three or four days, or as recommended by the oral surgeon. It is okay to brush your teeth, but brush carefully and avoid the healing areas of your mouth.
Consume soft foods. For the first two days following surgery, try sticking to drinks and soft foods only. It’s the perfect opportunity to indulge with milkshakes, ice cream, smoothies and pudding, but foods such as oatmeal, yogurt, mashed potatoes and re-fried beans are other options. In the hours following surgery be cautious of food temperature so that you do not burn the inside of your mouth. Until the numbness wears off, you may not be able to sense the feeling of the burn. You will likely be able to resume a normal diet within seven days.
If the pain following surgery continues to worsen or you have any concerns about the surgery site such as continued bleeding, don’t hesitate to contact the oral surgeon or me at THE SCIENCE OF SMILES® to ensure that there are no complications and that you are on the path to healing.