Whether you need a tooth extraction or a bone graft, oral surgery requires proper healing in order for your results to be effective. Although many patients can undergo such procedures with little risk of complication, everyone can benefit from having accurate expectations of the healing process.
At Oral and Facial Surgeons of Phoenix, we want each patient to be aptly prepared for surgery and the following recovery period. To help make your procedure as satisfying as possible, we offer the following information on your expected recovery.
How Long Will It Take?
The length of time your mouth will take to heal depends on the type of surgery, your health, and what you do during recovery. Generally, patients experience very few and mild side effects after the first ten days, allowing them to engage in their typical activities and eating habits without risk. However, it will take gum tissue up to four weeks to fully heal, and bone tissue often requires six months. Even if your mouth feels fine during this time, avoid anything that may cause damage or put undue stress upon your gums and jaw.
Side Effects of Oral Surgery
While every procedure may pose slightly different risks, most oral surgeries share some common side effects. The healing process is often accompanied by any or all of the following:
- Swelling: It is likely that you will experience swelling near the area of surgery. You can reduce swelling in the first 24 hours by applying a cold compress to the area for 15 minutes at a time, waiting an additional 15 minutes between applications. Once swelling begins to subside, usually around the third day, the use of a warm compress can decrease swelling further and relieve pain.
- Bruising: Bruising sometimes appears once swelling decreases, lasting between seven to ten days. If swelling is reduced, such as through a cold compress, bruising also tends to be less severe. Additionally, keeping your head elevated during rest can keep facial bruising to a minimum.
- Bleeding: It is possible for light bleeding to continue in the first few days after surgery. This can be controlled by applying pressure to the area with a gauze pad. Although there may be traces of blood in your saliva for the rest of the day, you should contact your doctor if bleeding continues for more than four hours.
- Pain: The area of your oral surgery may be painful over the first couple of days, resulting in soreness through the week. This can most often be controlled through medication prescribed by your doctor. Avoid the use of aspirin, as it may contribute to bleeding.
The above side effects are often most noticeable two to three days after surgery, but should gradually subside afterward. If your side effects worsen or do not improve after seven to ten days, contact your doctor.
How to Improve Your Recovery
When recovering from oral surgery, there are a few steps you can take to improve your healing and reduce risks.
Take time to relax: After surgery, relax for the remainder of the day. General exercise should be avoided for at least 24 hours, and any strenuous activities or work that requires bending over should be avoided for at least three days.
Take pain medication: Everyone feels the effects oral surgery differently, but it’s better to prevent the onset of pain than to wait and regret it. Even if you are using over-the-counter medication, begin taking it as soon as your doctor recommends.
Wait to rinse: Do not rinse within 24 hours of surgery. However, after this period, gently rinsing with warm saltwater can help your mouth heal and keep it clean. Mix one teaspoon of salt per glass of warm water, up to four times daily.
East soft foods: A liquid and soft-food diet is recommended for the first two days of recovery. Foods such as soup, mashed potatoes, yogurt, and applesauce are popular choices. Avoiding hot or spicy foods is also recommended.