Oral Hygiene after Surgery FAQs – Part 4
In part three we looked at what medication you can take at home, what to do about bleeding and when your stitches can be removed. In this, the final part, we look at oral hygiene, your diet, what you can eat and whether or not salt water is useful after surgical tooth extraction and other oral surgeries.
Q. Can I brush my teeth after surgical tooth extraction & other oral surgeries?
Your oral hygiene is still extremely important after surgery. Please do continue to brush all your teeth other than those in the immediate surgical area. Brushing too early here may result in the premature loss of stitches and delayed healing.
After the first 5-days, you can start gently brushing from the gum to the tooth with either a baby’s toothbrush or a post-surgical brush provided. Both these brushes have very soft bristles that cannot harm the tissues.
By 10 days after surgery, you should be able to brush the surgical site effectively with your usual toothbrush and maintain your oral hygiene routine.
Q. What foods can I eat after surgery?
We always suggest food that is far softer than your normal food. If you need a knife to cut the food, then it is not soft enough. Try whenever possible to eat the food by using the teeth on the opposite side of the mouth to avoid chewing on the surgical area. This may not be possible if you have had teeth removed on both sides. Soups are good but any food can be put through a blender to make a soft mushy food like baby food. This is just as nutritious.
Remember you need protein to make new tissue as part of the healing process. This is important and is a good reason why patients should not rely on yoghurt, jelly, and custard. You need a balanced diet to heal well and manufacture new tissue in the surgical site. You can add some protein to your diet by using protein shakes to supplement the protein you are eating in your soft food.
If food appears to be packing into the area of the surgical extraction socket, you must tell us and we can provide you with a small monojet syringe to enable you to flush the site with warm water mixed with some Savacol antibacterial mouthwash 2-3 times a day for a few days after eating.
Q. Many people use warm salty water. Does it help improve healing and avoid infection?
The salt probably does very little; it may feel soothing but it does not prevent infection.
The hot water is definitely a good idea. Using a hot water mouth bath regularly throughout the day will heat up the soft tissues around the surgical site. The hot tissue goes pink as the blood vessels in the heated tissues open up to allow a greater blood flow through the tissue. This results in a greater delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the healing tissues with the benefit of improved healing.
The idea of salt is a bit of an old wives tale. The salt mixed with the warm water is often made up into a solution far stronger than the concentration found in the human body fluids (0.9% solution). This results in the salt water mouthwash drawing out water from the tissues in a process we call osmosis. This has the effect of drying the tissues and this could slow healing.
When you use any mouthwash (Savacol or hot water) try not to swish it around the mouth as it may disturb the stitches and cause them to burst, opening up the wound. It is best to take the liquid into the mouth and tip the head over to one side for one minute and the repeat tipping to the other side for another minute before gently spitting out. Try to do this with hot water as often as you can.
If you have any questions after reading through the four parts of this article, do ring our nursing team who will be able to help you or contact us through the website contact and ask a question.
If you have problems and have recently had surgery you can call us on the practice telephone number 07 4725 1656 during our usual working hours Mon to Thur 0830am until 5.30pm. In the case of an emergency, our patients can call Dr. Priestland outside his normal working hours on his mobile telephone number that is shown on your printed post-operative instructions and on your appointment card.