The thought of surgery might seem scary, but anyone who’s had it before knows that the procedure is over in a flash. The hardest part of oral surgery is usually the recovery. Depending on the specific procedure you had, recovery can take anywhere from several days to several months. There are some people who will come out of surgery feeling relatively fine, but there are others who will want nothing more than to curl up under a blanket with painkillers and a bucket full of ice cream for the next few weeks. If you’re one of the people experiencing the latter, you’re probably wondering when the pain and the discomfort will end. Don’t worry—it won’t last forever. In the meantime, there are certain ways you can hasten the recovery process and make yourself feel better. Here are some tips for healing after oral surgery.
Eat the Right Foods
It might be tempting to return to your normal diet immediately after surgery, but it isn’t exactly the best idea. If you’re rummaging through a bag of trail mix and munching on hot peppers right after getting your wisdom teeth pulled, it’s no wonder you’re in so much pain! After surgery, you should avoid foods that are too hard, too sticky, as well as too hot or cold. These can irritate or even harm the surgical site. Instead, you’ll want to stick with foods that are lukewarm, liquid-like, and soft. The type of foods you should and shouldn’t eat tend to be consistent across procedures, but you should always double-check just to make sure. If you’re recovering from a root canal, you might have to eat and drink differently than someone who’s recovering from a different type of oral surgery. The amount of time that you’ll need to limit your diet can differ as well.
Don’t Forget to Brush and Floss
Another tip for healing after oral surgery is to continue taking care of your teeth during the recovery period. The biggest mistake that people tend to make after oral surgery is neglecting to rinse, brush, and floss. To be fair, it’s a pretty easy misconception to make—won’t prodding at your surgical site make things worse? It’s also pretty easy to forget basic oral hygiene when you’re more focused on your discomfort and pain than anything else.
However, you should continue to rinse, brush, and floss as you normally would unless advised otherwise by your dentist. This will prevent food debris from accumulating around the surgical site and the rest of your mouth. If brushing hurts, you may need to switch to a soft-bristled brush and use slower, gentler brushing motions.
Turn Down the Pain
You can’t just wish the pain away, unfortunately. If that was a possibility, you probably would’ve done it a long time ago. To minimize post-operation swelling, bruising, and discomfort, you’ll want to take your medication as prescribed. Your dentist should prescribe you pain medication after the surgery. If they don’t, you can use over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. You can also try other pain relief methods if the medication alone isn’t offering enough relief. A cold compress can also help with post-op symptoms, and so can rinsing your mouth with warm salt water up to three times a day.