Oral surgery often requires as much preparation and recovery time as much larger procedures. After all, it involves a body part we use fairly regularly and for a rather important task. Your dentist or surgeon will usually give you pointers beforehand if you need surgery, but it’s always best to take a few extra precautions. Here are some that you may want to keep in mind.
Get your meds in advance: Chances are you won’t be up for a trip to the drugstore right after your surgery. If possible, ask your dentist what medications you’ll need in advance, so you can pick them up earlier and have them with you right after the procedure. This will also allow you to take some of the standard medications earlier, such as the antibiotics and painkillers, rather than wait and endure the pain until you’ve bought the meds.
Make transport arrangements: Depending on the type of anesthesia or sedation you’re on—something you’ll also have to discuss with your dentist—you may not be in the best shape to drive yourself home or commute. It’s usually best to have someone pick you up and take you home afterwards.
Follow pre-op instructions: If you need IV sedation or a general anesthetic, your surgeon will usually tell you to avoid any food or water eight hours before your surgery. If it’s just a local anesthesia, you can usually have a light meal a couple of hours before the procedure, although this will be your dentist’s call. In any case, brush your teeth and floss right before the appointment. Don’t smoke for at least 12 hours before the surgery, and for at least 24 hours afterwards.
Plan your recovery diet: After your surgery, you’ll likely be limited to soft foods that don’t make much use of your teeth. Spicy and acidic food, including soda, may also be prohibited. Water is usually best, but if you want something different, stick to healthy drinks like milk, tea, and protein shakes. Don’t drink with straws, as it can cause a painful reaction called dry socket, which will require additional treatment.
Sleep comfortably: You may be instructed to sleep in a certain position to avoid pressure on the area of surgery, even if you’ve stayed in the hospital for a while. The best position is usually on your back with the back slightly elevated. To do this, cushion your back with a few pillows, adding one at a time until you reach a comfortable angle.