Top 5 Tips for Recovering from Oral Surgery

Oral surgery is extremely common. From having your wisdom teeth removed to receiving dental implants, there are several types of oral surgeries you may need throughout your life. Although it’s normal to have minor discomfort after surgery, recovery is typically quick and stress-free. However, to reduce the chance of any complications after the procedure, there are some tips to keep in mind.

This article will explain five tips for getting back to normal after oral surgery.

1) Don’t Overexert Yourself

After your surgery ends, resting is essential. Following the procedure, make sure to take it easy for the remainder of the day. While most people can return to normal activities in 24 hours, you shouldn’t overexert yourself for the next week. It is best to avoid activities such as running, biking, or doing anything strenuous. If you lift something heavy or move in a particular position, this can dislodge a blood clot and cause bleeding.

For the rest of the day after surgery, make sure to limit activities that require concentration. Try to avoid driving a car, studying, or working. If you received a sedative for the procedure, concentrating on anything can be challenging. Resting is the best way to speed up the recovery process and limit the chance of any complications.

When resting, make sure to keep your head elevated, which will help with blood circulation. Try propping up your head with a few pillows before falling asleep.

2) Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco

During your oral surgery recovery period, you’ll want to avoid anything that can disrupt the healing process, including drinking alcohol and using tobacco. It’s best to avoid these substances for at least a week following surgery. Using alcohol and tobacco can also cause excessive bleeding and increase the risk of infection. These issues can result in a great deal of pain and possibly more treatment.

As quitting these substances can be difficult, it’s essential to talk to your doctor if you need help. By limiting the use of alcohol and tobacco following surgery, you can experience a faster recovery.

3) Apply Ice

Icing the area following surgery is also essential. Once the healing process starts, you may have bruises or facial swelling. While these are entirely normal, applying ice can promote healing and limit pain. You’ll want to ice the area as directed for the next 24–48 hours following oral surgery.

Often, you’ll be instructed to apply ice to your jaw multiple times in that 24–48 hour period for the best results — for example, icing the area for 30 minutes, removing it for 15 minutes, then icing again for another 30 minutes. You’ll probably be asked to repeat these steps for at least 24 hours. If you had the procedure for both sides of your mouth, make sure to follow your oral surgeon’s directions about switching sides when applying ice. 

While applying ice is standard practice after oral surgery, it’s critical to follow the instructions from your oral surgeon. They may recommend a specific process for applying ice.

4) Eat Soft Foods

As you’ll probably have some tenderness after oral surgery, it’s important to eat soft foods or drink liquid forms of nutrition. Not only will this be more comfortable, but it can also limit the chance of any complications. Make sure to avoid hard foods like candy, apples, or raw vegetables. You should also stay away from foods that are too cold, hot, or spicy. These can all irritate the area. 

Experts typically recommend consuming soft foods and drinks, such as applesauce, oatmeal, smoothies, and meal replacement shakes. However, make sure these aren’t too hot or cold. After about a week, you should be able to return to your regular diet. However, always refer to your oral surgeon’s guidance regarding what you should consume. If you notice sharp pain or discomfort after eating or drinking something, be sure to tell your surgeon.

5) Follow Your Oral Surgeon’s Instructions

Above all else, follow the instructions from your oral surgeon. They will provide a detailed recovery plan based on the type of surgery you received. These instructions also depend on how the surgery played out, including your personal needs.

Your oral surgeon may encourage you to refrain from using mouthwash or brushing your teeth, as these can sometimes cause irritation and discomfort. On the other hand, they may recommend only avoiding the tender spots when brushing.

Rinsing with salt water is another standard oral surgery recovery tip. Rinsing with salt water helps reduce the chance of an infection. In addition, the salt speeds up recovery while also mitigating pain. Be sure to rinse with salt water every few hours and after eating meals for a week following surgery, if this is what is suggested by your oral surgeon. 

Another crucial tip is to follow your oral surgeon’s instructions regarding pain medication. People often take over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but your surgeon may also prescribe a more potent painkiller. Be sure to take these only as directed, and not to mix over-the-counter and prescription medications without your surgeon’s knowledge and approval.

Oral Surgery DC

If you’re looking for more oral surgery recovery tips or need an experienced oral surgeon in the Washington DC area, contact Oral Surgery DC today. Our surgeon, Tania Nkungula, DDS, and our team of skilled oral care professionals have years of experience in the industry.

Contact Oral Surgery DC today to learn more.

Making the Most of Your Smile: Healthy Habits that Protect Your Teeth

The benefits of good dental hygiene may start with a gorgeous smile, but they extend to promoting your confidence and your physical health on many levels. Good oral health helps make you feel great not only physically, but it also assists in making you feel good about yourself when you have a fresh smile. If your teeth aren’t taken care of properly, this can lead to a number of irritations and infections, some of which could cause serious medical issues if left untreated. However, practicing basic dental hygiene can increase your overall wellbeing and make your smile stand out.

Making the most of your smile with healthy habits to protect your teeth only takes a few minutes a day. Here’s how you can make your smile the healthiest –and most noticeable– in the room.

 

Start with the basics

To make the most of any smile, using basic dental practices like brushing your teeth daily can help prevent plaque build-up, which leads to cavities and potential gum disease. Depending on what toothpaste you use and what your dentist recommends, daily brushing can also help whiten your smile so that it looks nice and clean.

Using mouthwash to gargle with can also help reduce and kill harmful bacteria that may be lurking in hard to reach spots. This is great for preventing tooth decay and can get between your teeth and under your tongue.

 

Water pik vs. flossing

If you’ve heard the long-running debate on whether a water pik is better than flossing, we’ve got the answers for you. The truth is that both options are great and provide you with similar benefits.

Both flossing and a water pik help remove plaque. However, water piks are especially beneficial for people who wear braces, and for those who have non-removable bridgework, implants, or crownwork. Compared to flossing, a water pik enables people with braces or this type of dental work to still clean away bacteria and other particles since string flossing may be a little more difficult to maneuver.

The downside is that water piks are a little less accurate than regular flossing. With a water pik, you may not be able to get rid of all the plaque that’s settling on and around your teeth, and it can be a little messy when you’re first trying to figure out how to aim and what specific pressure level to use.

Flossing is a beneficial practice to build a habit out of because it allows you to work on each tooth in full, helping you thoroughly clean away bacteria and plaque before it turns into tartar.

Both options are great for removing plaque, and rather than choosing one over the other, utilizing both can ensure a clean and healthy smile.

 

Should I brush multiple times a day?

It’s true that brushing your teeth at least twice a day can prevent plaque build-up and the settling of bacteria. Plaque only needs 48 hours to fully harden, so brushing roughly an hour after eating a good meal is recommended as it doesn’t give bacteria the time to grow.

While brushing, ensure you’re using a toothbrush that’s less than 3-4 months old. Once a brush begins to have frayed bristles, it’s less accurate on keeping bacteria from growing and can be more harmful than good. Forgetting to replace your toothbrush regularly increases the likelihood you will be leaving plaque or bacteria behind.

 

Am I brushing too hard?

Finding the perfect balance in pressure when brushing can feel frustrating. You don’t want to lightly brush and miss out on removing dangerous bacteria, but you also don’t want to brush so hard that you damage your gums or cause bleeding. It’s recommended that you gently press your brush against the base of your teeth and the edges of your gums. As you brush, you can move side to side, up and down, and in circular motions to ensure you’re touching all areas. This isn’t only good for removing particles but it also helps encourage the blood circulation in your gums and around your teeth.

 

Foods to avoid

As much as we all have our guilty pleasures with food, some can be a nightmare for our teeth if consumed too frequently. From alcohol to candy, soda, and more, different foods and beverages contain acids that are harmful to our oral health. While indulging from time to time in your favorite treat is completely fine, you may want to avoid these foods if you’re trying to improve your dental health or have an oral infection you’re trying to treat.

Number one on the list to avoid? Acidic foods to avoid in large quantities, like:

  • Sour candies – Many sour candies are filled with acids and are chewy. When you eat them this leaves behind build-up on your teeth that can be more difficult to remove, often allowing sugar to erode your enamel and encourage tooth decay.
  • Bread – Believe it or not, when you’re chewing, your saliva breaks down the starches in bread and turns it into sugars that can increase plaque levels.
  • Oranges, grapefruits, and citrus-based products – These items are often rich in Vitamin C but their acid content erodes enamel, which makes your teeth more susceptible to decay.

There are various other foods, treats, and beverages you can limit your consumption of in order to improve the health of your smile.

Have questions or need a little extra help with your smile? We’re here to provide expert support and care? Contact us today for more advice on what you can do to make the most of your smile and improve your oral health.

 

Image Credits: Photo by Racool_studio on Freepik

Oral Surgery for Gum Disease: A Patient’s Guide

Oral Surgery for Gum Disease: A Patient’s Guide

Gum disease can be an uncomfortable and even painful condition. Non-destructive gum disease is called gingivitis and is caused by excess bacteria, which builds up as plaque on your teeth. It can be caused by poor oral hygiene but may also be due to mouth shape or illness. If gingivitis goes untreated, it can become periodontitis. This type of gum disease can eventually eat away at the teeth and even the surrounding bones. An oral surgeon may need to perform one or more procedures to get your oral health back on track in instances like these.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

One of the earliest signs of gum disease is bad breath. Bacteria build up in pockets around your teeth or under the gums. This bacteria, if left unchecked, multiplies and causes an unpleasant smell to emanate from your mouth.

Excess bacteria can also make your gums swell and become inflamed. You may notice that your gums seem redder than usual. They may be sore or soft to the touch. You may also detect blood when brushing your teeth.

As gum disease progresses, you may notice that your gums seem to recede or that your teeth seem longer or larger. It may also seem like your gums are pulling away from your teeth, creating even more gaps where bacteria can hide and spread.

You may also start to experience more intense pain if the inflammation or infection starts to damage the soft tissues or even your teeth.          

Preventing Gum Disease

The first line of defense against gum disease is oral hygiene. But, how do you know if your oral hygiene routine is up to par? Here are the steps you should be following every day to help prevent periodontitis or gingivitis:

  • Brush your teeth every morning as bacteria can spread while you sleep. 
  • Brush your teeth every night to remove food particles and acids that build up during the day.
  • Floss daily to remove food particles and bacteria from between the teeth.
  • Use mouthwash if you can, ideally an antibacterial version.
  • If you struggle to brush between your teeth, talk to your dentist about interdental brushes.
  • You may use a toothpick to help remove particles from between the teeth, but use these with care as hard toothpicks can cause damage to the gums or teeth.
  • Consider an electric toothbrush and make sure that you always brush along the gum line.

You can also help prevent gingivitis by stopping smoking and cutting down your alcohol consumption.

When To See an Oral Surgeon

You should speak to an oral surgeon about your options as soon as you notice any of the symptoms of gum disease. If gum disease has not progressed too far, they may recommend scaling and cleaning. This involves cleaning beneath the gum line to reduce plaque buildup. Deep scaling and root planing is another minor procedure that involves smoothing the surfaces of the teeth beneath the gum line. The smoother surface makes it harder for bacteria to embed and grow.

If you’re experiencing pain, your teeth feel loose, or bleeding from the mouth is common, it’s more urgent to see your oral surgeon. In these instances, periodontitis may have set in, and gum surgery may be a viable option. You must take action as gum disease is connected to heart disease and other major medical issues.

Treatments an Oral Surgeon May Perform

Your dental surgeon will examine you carefully and give you the options for treatment. The treatment offered depends largely on the severity of the gum disease.

Flap Surgery

During flap surgery, the surgeon manually lifts the gums away from the teeth. They then thoroughly clean the teeth and suture the gums back together, hopefully tightening them against the teeth to avoid pockets forming again.

Grafting of Bone or Tissue

Severe periodontitis can damage teeth and bones. If the bone around a tooth is damaged, you could lose the tooth. Bone grafting uses bone tissue from yourself or a donor to replace the damaged or destroyed bone and help the tooth grow stronger. Some oral surgeons may use artificial bone constructs for this procedure.

Guided Tissue Regeneration

When bone is destroyed, the gum can grow to fill the gap. This prevents the bone from healing itself and leaves the jaw and the teeth weaker than before. Guided tissue regeneration or GTR involves using mesh to stop the growth of new gum tissue. This encourages the bone to regrow instead.

Your oral surgeon will talk you through any procedure, including how to prepare and what to expect. You may need to stop taking certain medications before your procedure. You won’t be able to smoke or drink alcohol for 24 hours before a procedure, and you will need someone to drive you home in case you are still under the effect of sedation.

Recovering From Oral Surgery

Recovery time depends on the procedure you have. Slight discomfort is normal, as is some swelling and inflammation as your gums recover from surgery. Talk to the surgeon about what painkillers you can take and how often. Avoid hard, sharp, or crunchy foods. You may need to use a special mouth rinse to keep the surgery area clean. Don’t floss while recovering from gum surgery, and ask your surgeon if it’s okay to start brushing your teeth again right away or if a wait time is needed.

Maintaining good oral hygiene can help prevent gum disease and other dental issues. However, there are still occasions when you develop irritation or inflammation of the gums, even with the best daily hygiene routine. Talk to a professional for advice and contact Oral Surgery DC for more information.
 

Image credits: Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash.