Innovative tools and technologies have paved the way for oral surgery procedures capable of treating a wide range of dental concerns. As with any surgical operation, anticipating an oral surgery procedure may be met with some nerves and numerous questions on how to best prepare. A huge part of lessening these pre-op jitters lies in answering these questions and going into your appointment with as much knowledge as possible.
Understanding how to prepare yourself can help to not only put you more at ease, but make the entire process — before, during, and healing after — as comfortable as possible. The trick: the process begins long before you walk into your oral surgery appointment.
Oral surgery is typically performed in the outpatient setting and involves a general or local anesthetic. The specifics of your procedure will come along with a list of pre-operative and post-operative instructions that should be understood and followed. If you have any questions regarding these guidelines, taking the time to clarify with your dentist or oral surgeon is a great place to start.
Below is a list of helpful tips that will empower you to go into the appointment informed, make preparations beforehand, and know what to plan for during the healing process.
What to Know When Preparing for Oral Surgery
- Ask questions and discuss your procedure in detail — It’s not uncommon for oral surgery procedures to be met with apprehension and nervous feelings. While this can sometimes cause patients to shy away from discussing the operation in detail, we encourage you to instead let those feelings of worry act as fuel to asking any and all questions that come to mind. Knowing what to expect will help you to feel more comfortable and can, ultimately, facilitate a faster recovery. If you’re unsure of where to start, consider the questions below to guide your thinking.
- Why do I need oral surgery?
- What are the risks involved?
- What are the benefits of this procedure?
- What steps should I take before, during, and after?
- What’s my full treatment plan?
- What occurs during the surgery, what are the steps involved?
- What are my options for anesthesia? If you’re nervous about this, ask questions about how safe it is and whether any alternatives exist.
- Be informed — Remember, each procedure is different. Take the time to discuss the risks and benefits that come along with the operation your dentist recommends. Your consultation beforehand is the time to share information about your pre-existing health conditions, any medical procedures you’ve undergone, and drugs you may be taking. Make sure to also familiarize yourself with any information or specific instructions your oral surgeon gives you as these will highlight specific guidelines as they relate to your procedure.
- Organize transportation — If anesthesia is part of your oral surgery plan — either intravenous anesthesia or general anesthesia — you’ll be unable to drive post-procedure. If this is the case, plan on having a friend or family member drive you to and from your appointment. If this isn’t possible, you might consider another method of transportation, such as a taxi, rideshare, or community transport. If you need to make a trip to pick up prescribed antibiotics or pain medication, plan on retrieving these beforehand to have them ready for you after your surgery.
- Fasting — As it does with driving yourself home after the operation, anesthesia will also play a factor in whether or not you’re allowed to consume foods on the day of your oral surgery appointment. If your dentist is using an IV or general anesthetic, your pre-operative guidelines will likely include fasting from food and drink for 8-12 hours prior to surgery. If your procedure involves the use of only a local anesthetic, you may be able to have a light meal 1-2 hours beforehand but make sure to brush and floss before arrival to reduce any residual bacteria that could potentially get into the surgical wound.
- Avoid smoking before and after your operation — Along with fasting from food and drink before your appointment, it’s important to refrain from smoking for at least 12 hours before your scheduled surgery and in the day following. Smoking may impede the healing process and should be avoided.
- Ask about medications — For some patients, your oral surgeon may advise that you stop taking certain medications in the days leading up to your oral surgery operation. Disclosing information about any drugs you take during your pre-op consultation will help your dentist gauge any pre-operative measures you may need to take in this regard. Asking questions about suggested post-op medications, whether for pain management or antibiotic purposes, should also be added to your list of ways to prepare.
- Arrive early and well-rested — We typically suggest that patients arrive at least 20 minutes early for their scheduled appointment. This will provide ample time to finish any paperwork, ask any last-minute questions, and take a few deep breaths before being prepped for your oral surgery. We also advise that patients prioritize a good night’s sleep the night before to help ease nerves and keep you feeling calm and comfortable.
- Dress comfortable and practically — Like with any surgical procedure, loose-fitting, comfortable clothing is best. If you know anesthesia will be administered intravenously, stick with short-sleeves. We also recommend avoiding contact lenses for those patients who plan to be under anesthesia, since your eyes will be closed and you’ll be asleep for the duration of your operation.
- Plan your post-op diet, — You’ll also find that a visit to the grocery store prior to your oral surgery appointment can prove incredibly helpful. Consider prepping foods that you can quickly warm or put together while recovering at home in the days following surgery. Sticking to a soft foods diet and keeping yourself hydrated is necessary for the first several days. Consider adding oatmeal, healthier protein beverages, soups, mashed potatoes, purees, or other soft-cooked veggies to the menu and having plenty on hand. More solid foods can gradually be reintroduced after the first few days depending on your healing progress. Avoid spicy, acidic, hard, or chewy foods, and refrain from drinking through a straw.
- Know what to expect in terms of healing time — Though the length of time it takes for healing will vary depending on the specifics of the patient and procedure they underwent, a general timeframe can be considered for the most standard oral surgery procedures. The initial healing phase occurs within approximately 48 hours. It is during this time that swelling and discomfort subside. Then, a longer-term healing phase occurs over 1-2 weeks. A longer healing period of one month may be required for more complex surgical procedures.
Our team at Champions Dental remains committed to keeping our patients feeling informed and prepared as they approach their oral surgery procedure. We strive to make the process before, during, and after as comfortable as possible, providing you with the information and insight you need to feel at ease. Our tips for preparing for oral surgery are designed to help you feel confident, knowledgeable, and to have the quickest recovery possible. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and discuss your options for treatment.