Congratulations, you’ve completed your bone graft surgery or are set to complete it soon! You are well on your way toward a strong jaw and shiny new teeth after your implant replacement surgery. Before you can reap the benefits of your bone graft, however, you need to be sure that your recovery goes smoothly. Here are some things to keep in mind on your road to recovery.
Things to Expect
- Bone fragments – A bone graft is usually made up of small particles of bone. Because of this, there may be times that you feel small granules of bone that are loose in your mouth. There’s no need to be concerned; this is completely normal to experience the first several days.
- Bleeding – You’ve just had a surgery, so some bleeding is normal and expected. You may have some oozing or blood in your saliva, but don’t be alarmed. If bleeding is still heavy after multiple hours of applying pressure with gauze, call 210.824.0111 for help.
- Swelling – Swelling is a totally normal part of your body’s healing process, so it is safe to say some swelling is expected after your bone grafting surgery. Most of your swelling will be experienced in the cheeks, eyes, side of face and around the mouth. Your swelling will most likely not appear until the day after your surgery and it will most likely continue to worsen for the next 24 to 48 hours before beginning to recede. In some cases, residual swelling can even last a week or more after your surgery, so do not be alarmed. Your face will be back to its original size before you know it.
Things to Aid Your Recovery
- Avoid disturbing the wound – Try your best not to touch your wound with your fingers, tongue or any other objects. Too much tampering with the surgical site could cause the bone graft material to move or worsen the dislodging of bone particles into your mouth. You should also try to abstain from forcefully spitting or rinsing out your mouth. If you aren’t careful, you could cause more bleeding by destabilizing your blood clot.
- Avoid smoking – Smoking is proven to increase the chance of bone graft failure and is bad for your oral health in general. You should not smoke for at least two weeks after your procedure to fully ensure your healthy recovery.
- To combat bleeding – As we said above, you should experience some bleeding after your procedure, but there are things you can do to keep it to a minimum. Right after your surgery, your surgeon should put a gauze pad over your surgical area. Keep this pad firmly in place by biting down on it. After an hour, you can remove the gauze and you shouldn’t need to replace it unless bleeding persists. If your bleeding remains severe, you can continue to apply pressure with gauze, changing it out every 30 to 45 minutes or bite down on a moist tea bag in the same way you bit down on the gauze. The tannic acid in the tea should help to get your blood to clot, but if that doesn’t work and your bleeding just won’t stop, give us a call at 210.824.0111 and we will take care of you.
- To combat swelling – Swelling is a normal part of your body’s healing process, but that doesn’t mean you have to just sit there defenseless as it wreaks havoc on your face! To help keep your swelling to a minimum, you should immediately begin putting ice packs on the outside of your face around the surgical area. For the first 24 to 48 hours, ice your face in 30-minute shifts with 30-minute breaks in between while you’re awake. After 48 hours, you should switch to applying heat, which will be more beneficial in reducing swelling at that point.
- To combat pain – Catch it before it starts! Try to take your prescribed pain meds as soon as possible, preferably before you even start to feel discomfort. To avoid feeling nauseous, be sure to take your medication with food and drink. It is also important to note that prescription pain medication is likely to make you groggy and slow, so you should not be driving or around any heavy machinery while taking them. Alcohol will just exaggerate the effects of the pain medication, so you should avoid it for at least a week after your surgery. Though alcohol is a no-no, over-the-counter painkillers like Aspirin, Tylenol and Motrin are a good substitute for your prescription mediation when your pain is only mild.
- Food and drinks – First and foremost, it is best for you to wait until your anesthetic has worn off before you try to eat. Once it has, your ability to eat food might still be low for your first day after surgery. Be sure to be taking in lots of fluids during the first 24 hours and you may eat or drink anything that is soft and cool, as long as you chew away from the graft site. For the first day, you should not be drinking or eating anything hot. It is also important that you avoid using straws at all costs, because the sucking motion can increase your bleeding.
- Oral hygiene – This is an important one, because good dental health is imperative to ensuring a fast and successful recovery. Alongside regular brushing and flossing, steering clear of the surgical site, we recommend that you begin using a warm salt-water mouth rinse the night of your surgery. The mouth rinse consists of ½ teaspoon of salt mixed into a glass of warm water and it should be used to very softly rinse your mouth four to five times a day.
- Physical activity – It is best to abstain from extensive physical activity for the first two to three days after your surgery. Don’t worry, a few days off won’t put your physique in peril.
If you follow these guidelines, you’re sure to be on a smooth road to recovery. Feel free to contact us online or call 210.824.0111 for any questions you may have!