Any surgical procedure benefits from a little foreplanning to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible, and this is certainly true of jaw surgery. Knowing what to expect can help you prepare in advance, making sure you have everything you need for a speedy and smooth recovery.
At Georgetown Orthodontics, Dr. Maya V. Oliver and our team helps orchestrate jaw surgeries for our patients in and around Washington, D.C., ensuring that they have the tools they need before and after the procedure.
If you’ve elected to have jaw surgery, here are five tips that will keep you in good stead during your recovery.
One of the first things our clients ask about is eating. Contrary to popular belief, oral surgeons don’t wire your jaw shut to help your jaw heal, but you do need to be mindful of using your jaw. Depending upon the surgery, you will likely be on a liquid diet for a certain period as using your jaws may not be so comfortable.
Knowing this, you can plan in advance to be sure you have a good blender and juicer on hand. It’s amazing what you can throw into these household appliances to make healthy and nutritious meals (apples, carrots, celery, and more).
You can also prepare some hearty soups in advance of your surgery to have on hand.
Once you get the go ahead for solid foods, you’ll want to start off slowly with foods that don’t require a lot of chewing. For example, mashed potatoes, pudding, scrambled eggs, and yogurt are great foods that fill you up, but don’t require much effort on your part to eat.
And we do encourage you to eat so that you can get your jaw muscles working again, so don’t be too cautious about diving into solid foods again. Just steer clear of a steak until your jaws feel up to it.
While your oral surgeon will likely prescribe some pain medications, you can ease any discomfort at home with warm compresses. As well, the pain medications can do a number on your gastrointestinal tract, leading to constipation. To take this out of the equation, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and prune juice (or any other fiber-rich liquid), which will go a long way toward alleviating the constipation.
Mind your lips
Your lips may feel very chapped after your surgery, so we encourage you to have plenty of lip balm on hand and begin applying it immediately. Here again, drinking a good deal of water will help, and we recommend at least eight glasses of water a day.
Take it easy
For the first few days after your surgery, try to take it easy to allow time for your body to direct all of its resources toward healing. Prepare in advance with a stack of books, games, or whatever helps you pass the time.
After a few days of rest, you can start with some light activity and gradually build toward moving around more. Again, don’t count on heading out for a run for a couple weeks, so perhaps you can arm yourself with some hand weights and leg bands if you want to keep your body in good condition while you recover.