Jaw surgery is a major surgical procedure. This means that before and after surgery, certain instructions need to be followed so that both the surgery and your recovery are a success.
We’ll cover what you need to know to be prepared for your jaw surgery, and what to do afterwards to ensure a successful recovery.
Two Weeks Before Jaw Surgery
With two weeks to go before the surgery, it’s important to start following your doctor’s advice on what medications can be taken and what diet to follow.
Drugs such as aspirin that can thin the blood and cause abnormal bleeding should be avoided at this point. Discuss any medications you are taking with your doctor so they can assess how it might impact the surgery.
Smoking should be avoided at all costs. Also, it’s good to start planning the logistics: who can take you to the hospital, be there with you, and bring you back home for recovery. Plan ahead by requesting time off work for the day of the surgery, plus the recovery period.
You’ll have to have hooks applied one week before surgery, so now’s a good time to book the appointment with your orthodontist for this procedure.
One Week Before
One week before your surgery is when many pre-operative procedures and checks will be conducted.
This means x-rays will be taken of your jaw as well as impressions. You’ll go through the necessary physical checkups and bloodwork to ensure you’re fit for surgery and an up-to-date medical history will be taken.
Legal steps such as gathering your consent for surgery also happen here, and your surgery time will be finalized during this week.
24 Hours Before
The day before surgery will be your ‘cleanse’ period.
This means you’ll have to fast and not eat or drink anything at least 12 hours before surgery. You’ll also need to stop taking medications to prevent adverse reactions during surgery unless directed otherwise by your doctor.
Pack any clothing you’ll need to take to the hospital such as comfortable clothes, medical documents, etc. You should leave valuables at home, including jewelry.
A few hours before the surgery, you can choose to brush your teeth and take a shower before heading to the hospital.
After Jaw Surgery
It is common to follow a liquid or soft food diet for a period of time to allow the jaw to heal. Orthodontic elastics or braces may be used to help align the teeth properly. Regular check-ups with the orthodontist will be necessary to monitor progress and make any necessary adjustments. Gradually, as the jaw heals, the discomfort will subside, and the bite will improve, resulting in a more harmonious and functional jaw alignment.
Once the surgery is done, you’ll spend the next few weeks recovering from the procedure. During this time, you’ll need to pay special attention to a few things to ensure a quick and successful recovery.
Take any medications that were prescribed by your doctor and only use pain medications as recommended by your orthodontist. Some of these may be painful to ingest, but they are required to help speed up your recovery and prevent infections.
You can use ice for pain relief as well, in the form of ice packs or packs of frozen vegetables.
Your mouth may be able to open a little, but it’ll hurt, and chewing especially can be painful. Therefore, for the first few weeks, you’ll be on a liquid diet.
Plan to eat blended and liquid foods. Anything soft or small enough to be mashed up also works. This can include soups, yogurt, scrambled eggs, ice cream, and even fine pasta. Get creative with your blender!
The key is to avoid moving the jaw and giving it ample rest. Food that’s high in calories and protein will boost recovery, so try to get plenty of those in your diet.
Eating post-surgery can be painful when done for prolonged periods. It’s better to have more frequent meals in smaller portions to help minimize pain.
After about two weeks, if recovery is going well, you’ll be able to move to a soft diet and introduce well-cooked meats and vegetables, beans, rice, and other foods.
Oral hygiene will be important post-surgery to avoid infections. This means you’ll have to brush and rinse each day. Doing this extensively will hurt, so you’ll have to start small with a little bit of toothpaste, mouthwash, and subtle brush movements. Try to avoid any mechanical toothbrushes, as the vibrations they produce will cause pain in your jaw.
Any surgery is traumatic to the body and will require ample rest time for recovery. This applies for jaw surgery as well, so take the first week easy. Try not to undertake any physical activities more strenuous than short daily walks.
You should be able to resume most of your daily activities after the first week, but avoid any intense physical activities or anything that may cause injury to the face. For example, our advice is to stay away from contact sports during the recovery period.