No matter what oral surgery procedure you or your child undergo, swelling in the mouth is very likely. From a tooth extraction to fixing a jaw alignment problem, inflammation and swelling are natural results of any procedure as the mouth works to heal itself.
Swelling is an important part of the healing process, helping to ensure that adequate blood and nutrients reach areas that need it. But too much swelling can cause pain and discomfort in patients recovering from oral surgery. To limit discomfort while still ensuring an effective healing process, follow all instructions given to you by your oral surgeon or dentist.
7 Tips to Reduce Swelling After Oral Surgery
To help reduce swelling after oral surgery, here are seven practical tips that dentists and oral surgeons commonly recommend:
1. Use an Ice Pack
Placing a cold compress, such as an ice pack, near the surgical site is a great way to both temporarily numb the area and reduce swelling and inflammation. Wrap the ice pack in a towel and place over the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes at a time two to three times an hour. Cold therapy is highly recommended during the first couple of days after oral surgery especially.
2. Heating Pad, Warm Towels, or Warm Water Bottle
Alternating cold therapy with heat therapy can act as a great one-two punch for the healing process after oral surgery. Speak to your dentist about when to begin using heat therapy, or whether it is right for your particular procedure. Heat therapy can help to relax the muscles and improve circulation, helping to pump out some of the fluids that are causing swelling and inflammation in the area. Use a moderately warm heating application and press it gently against the area for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
3. Saltwater Rinse
Saltwater is a great natural antiseptic, helping to keep the mouth clear of infection while also limiting swelling. Combine about one teaspoon of salt with a glass of warm, filtered water. Rinse gently two to four times a day for 30 seconds to a minute and spit out the rinse. In order to avoid damaging the surgical area, don’t swish too hard.
4. Get Rest and Elevation
Even though the rest of your body should still be functioning after oral surgery, it’s still important to get rest while keeping the area elevated. Overexerting yourself can worsen swelling, while laying flat can cause blood to pool in the surgical site, which can also worsen swelling. Sit upright on the sofa or in a recliner with your feet up and in a relaxed position. While in bed, use pillows to prop your head up slightly. It is usually best not to sleep on your side to avoid putting pressure on the area.
5. Eat the Right Foods
In addition to eating soft foods that are easy on the mouth, eating cold foods can be a great way to reduce swelling after oral surgery. Cold soups, refrigerated apple sauce, and of course, ice cream can all work as temporary cold therapy for the mouth. Hot , spicy, and crunchy foods can all have the opposite effect and increase swelling, which is why dentists will tell you to avoid them after oral surgery.
6. Stay Hydrated
While important for your overall health, staying hydrated is also critical to healing after oral surgery. Your body needs plenty of fluids to keep delivering nutrients and flushing inflammatory toxins out of the area. A commonly recommended alternative is to suck on ice chips during the first day or two, which also works as cold therapy.
7. Over-the-Counter Medication
If swelling and inflammation are causing pain and discomfort beyond what basic at-home methods can do, your dentist or oral surgeon may recommend over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. Taking ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce swelling on a temporary basis. Always follow recommended dosage and take only as needed.
Following Postoperative Instructions for a Positive Recovery
After your procedure, read and follow any instructions you received from your surgeon on how to care for your mouth after surgery. This includes when and what to eat and drink, how to clean your mouth, and when to take medications. It’s important to follow these instructions carefully to ensure a smooth recovery.
Your surgeon may also recommend a special mouthwash or other cleaning solutions to keep your mouth clean and prevent infection. It’s important to follow these instructions and maintain good oral hygiene practices to prevent these and other complications.
If you experience persistent or severe pain, bleeding, or other symptoms, be sure to contact your surgeon or dentist immediately. They can help you manage any complications and ensure the smoothest possible recovery.
Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy with the Help of AC Pediatric Dentistry
Going to the dentist can be scary — we get it. But it should be fun! Whether it’s care for baby teeth, big kid teeth, oral surgery, or orthodontics, our team of specialized pediatric dentists make the experience memorable while teaching you how to encourage healthy habits and good hygiene for lifelong smiles. Call us today or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you!