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Tips for Recovering from Reconstructive Jaw Surgery

Once your reconstructive jaw surgery is on the calendar, it’s an ideal time to start planning ahead for a speedy recovery. While each person recovers a bit differently, here’s a general timeline of what you might expect and what you can do to promote your own healing and well-being.

The First 24 Hours. Follow the instructions of your oral surgeon by taking your medications as prescribed, keeping your head elevated and applying ice packs to the area, having a clear liquid diet (water, light juice, broth, etc.) and following a strict oral hygiene routine. Twice a day rinse with Peridex mouth rinse and brush your teeth at the same time using a baby tooth brush to carefully clean above the brackets and around the orthodontic archwires, while avoiding the incisions. Meanwhile, drink as much fluid as you can, ideally 64 ounces of water (or eight 8-ounce glasses) per day to avoid dehydration.

The First Week. Expect swelling to be worst in the first week after oral surgery and gradually lessen. Use an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes at a time to reduce swelling, giving your skin adequate breaks from the cold. Stick to a full liquid diet (milk shakes, smoothies, non-acidic juices and foods processed with a blender) and avoid alcohol and carbonated and high-sugar drinks. Continue the twice-daily oral hygiene routine and use warm saltwater rinses for comfort, but avoid commercial mouth rinses with alcohol that may burn and irritate the healing wounds. Most patients return to work or school one week after the procedure. We’ll want to see you one week after surgery to check the position of your bite.

First Six Weeks. The initial healing phase is about six weeks, but complete healing of the jaw takes between nine and 12 months.

First Six to 12 Months. Orthodontic treatment after surgery usually takes between six and 12 months.