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How To Recover From Oral Surgery
Anesthesia and a skilled hand make oral surgery a painless procedure. This knowledge doesn’t make the idea of oral surgery any less intimidating. There is still the small matter of healing from the surgical procedure.
This article is a guide that helps you navigate the ins and outs of recovery after oral surgery. It covers pain management and other aspects of at-home care.
What to expect from oral surgery
Oral surgery is a phrase that covers relatively minor procedures like root canals and wisdom tooth extraction. It also describes more involved procedures like dental implant surgery, corrective jaw surgery and cleft palate repair. Here is a list of common oral surgeries and the dental specialists that perform them:
- Dentists (wisdom tooth extraction, root canal)
- Endodontists (root canal surgery)
- Periodontists (gum flap surgery, bone grafts, root canals, dental implant surgery)
- Oral surgeons (bone grafts, dental implant surgery, complex root canals, corrective jaw surgery, cleft palate repair)
A single procedure can take anywhere from one to several hours. It all depends on the type of procedure and the complexity of an individual case. The person or team performing the procedure will start with the administration of anesthesia and/or sedation. They proceed to perform the surgery using techniques that minimize the size of the surgical site.
Some oral surgeries happen on an out-patient basis. Others take place in a hospital setting and may require the patient to recover in a hospital for a day or two. Once the patient gets home, here is how they recover from oral surgery.
Recovery and at-home care after oral surgery
There are several aspects to post-operative recovery. The most immediate is pain management. Next comes care of the surgical site. This involves the management and monitoring of swelling and bleeding. It also involves keeping the sutures in place and taking measures that would protect the surgical site. Lastly, a person in recovery should know the signs of post-operative complications so they know when to seek medical attention.
1. Pain management after oral surgery
The anesthetic that a patient receives before surgery lasts for an hour or two after the end of the procedure. Before the drugs wear off completely, the dentist/oral surgeon will have the patient take a dose of prescription or over-the-counter painkillers. Along with (or in place of) the painkillers, a patient can manage their discomfort with a cold compress, elevating the head during sleep and rest.
2. Management of bleeding and swelling
Surgery involves incisions, excisions and/or stitches to the structures around the mouth. Naturally, this results in swelling and bleeding. The swelling should go down in a few days, and a cold compress helps. If the swelling increases and becomes extra painful, the patient should talk to their dentist or surgeon.
Bleeding should clear up after four hours, give or take. The dentist will give instructions on how to manage the bleeding with gauze or cotton. If the bleeding continues past the fourth hour, it is a good idea to seek medical attention. Sutures can come apart, causing the wound to open. So it is important to protect the surgical site.
3. Caring for the surgical site
In addition to managing pain, swelling and bleeding, it is also important to protect the wound as it heals. A patient can do this by eating soft foods, resting and avoiding negative pressure that could suck at the wound. They should also clean their mouth as directed by their dentist to avoid injury to the surgical site.
Let us help you towards great oral health
Our practice has a great team of dental specialists that have experience in their respective fields. Call us to find out how we can make your oral surgery a success.
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