Oral surgical procedures concern the incision, excision, and/or reflection of tissue that exposes parts of the oral cavity that are usually sterile. Needless to say, these procedures require a certain length of healing and recovery as they literally cut through tissue in one of the most sensitive parts of the body — the mouth.
Do your part in speeding up recovery by avoiding these activities until you are fully healed.
1. Things that require concentration
If the oral surgeon gives you an anesthetic or sedative, as in the case of wisdom teeth extractions, refrain from doing things that require utmost concentration. Driving is an absolute no-no. Avoid cooking as well to prevent cutting or burning yourself. If you have young children, have someone else watch them until the drug wears off and you are fully aware of your surroundings.
Don’t exercise for at least 12 to 24 hours after surgery. To be sure, ask your surgeon when you can start working out again. Cardio and strength training can wait; don’t put your mouth at risk just to keep up with your workout routine. And even after that 24-hour period, try to take it easy with the exercise at least for a few days.
3. Eating the wrong foods
A soft diet is recommended for patients recovering from oral surgery (one week for mild surgery, two or more weeks for major surgery). Soft foods include yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, soups, and jelly. Do not eat foods that are too hot, too cold, chewy, crunchy, or spicy. That said, you may have to stock your fridge and pantry with more appropriate foods before you go in for surgery.
4. Strenuous movements
Don’t lift anything heavy nor move your head forcefully for the next few days following the surgery. Doing so can strain the surgical area and cause heavy bleeding, discomfort, and even dislodging of the clot that has formed in the area as strenuous movements can make the blood in the body pump faster.
5. Neglecting follow-ups
Follow-ups are imperative in making sure you’re on the right path of recovery and not at risk of post-op issues like infections or bleeding. Hence, don’t miss a follow-up appointment with your dentist to ensure that you’re healing well.
6. Talking a lot
Healing after oral surgery is the best time to converse with your inner self. Avoid talking excessively at least for a few days to prevent strain on the surgical site. Better yet, try to communicate in alternative methods like texting or using a notepad, especially if you are still in pain after the surgery.
7. Overdoing it with the pain meds
Your oral surgeon will likely instruct you to take pain medication to minimize your post-op discomfort. However, ensure that you’re only taking the recommended dose. Taking too many over-the-counter painkillers can increase your risk of liver disease, kidney damage, and stomach bleeding.
If the meds are not enough to alleviate your pain, put ice against your face on and off for 20 minutes at a time to reduce the swelling and numb the pain.
8. Doing your usual oral hygiene routine
You may not be able to do your normal hygiene routine just yet as your mouth is still too sensitive for brushing or rinsing with mouthwash. Listen to your surgeon’s instructions for hygiene care post-op. Usually, they will recommend wiping your mouth with a soft gauze to keep it clean.
9. Drinking or rinsing
The surgeon might also tell you to not drink or rinse your mouth at least 24 hours after surgery. Hence, it is imperative that you get adequately hydrated before going to the dentist’s office.
10. Using a straw
Drinking through a straw can loosen the blood clots that are helping your mouth heal. Similarly, do not make any sucking or spitting motions with your mouth in the meantime.
11. Touching the surgical site
This should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many patients disregard this rule. Do not touch the surgical site under any circumstances. Doing so can put you at risk of infection since our hands can carry a lot of bacteria.
Smoking is never good for anything, most especially when recovering from oral surgery. If you are a smoker, do not smoke for at least a few days following surgery as it can slow down your healing.
13. Ignoring concerns
Pain, bleeding, discomfort, and other problems are normal after oral surgery — but to a certain extent. If the pain is not going away or you’re still bleeding heavily, go back to the surgeon right away.
For many patients who undergo oral surgery, the recovery phase is often more challenging than the surgery itself. Nevertheless, avoiding these activities can make recovery go faster and get you back on track in no time.