Article | July 2018

Prepare for Oral Surgery: What You Need to Know

What is oral surgery?

Oral surgery refers to any surgical procedure performed in or around your mouth and jaw, usually by a dental specialist who’s trained to perform certain kinds of oral surgeries.

How many different types of oral surgery are there?

There are many types of oral surgery, including surgical procedures such as a tooth removal or a root canal. Some oral surgeries involve the repositioning of the jaw. In other instances, oral surgery may involve the removal of a tumor. Oral surgeries might be performed by any one of a number of different kinds of dental specialists, including endodontists, periodontists, and prosthodontists.

What are some common types of oral surgery?

Some of the most common surgeries for teeth and jaw include:

  • Impacted wisdom teeth
  • Gum graft
  • Tooth implants
  • Maxillofacial surgery
  • Root canal
  • Jaw and teeth repair following an injury

When would I need oral surgery?

For tooth and jaw procedures that go beyond the expertise of a general dentist, you might need oral surgery. If your wisdom teeth are impacted, for example, removing them may require you see an oral surgeon. If you suffer from gum disease and have to have a gum graft, you’d be referred to a periodontist who performs those types of oral surgeries.

If you require oral surgery, your general dentist will talk to you about it and refer you to the right provider.

How do I prepare for oral surgery?

Prepare for an oral surgery in the same way you would for any serious medical procedure, depending on the type of surgery. And always make sure to follow your dentist’s direction.

  • Start by making sure that the space you’re returning home to is clean and neat, so you’re comfortable for at least a couple of days, if necessary.
  • Set up your bed so that, if need be, you can sit at an incline.
  • Follow the pre-surgery instructions your oral surgeon gives you. Typically you will be asked to refrain from eating or drinking anything in the 8-10 hours before your surgery.
  • Arrange for transportation back home, if necessary. Talk to your oral surgeon about what kind of anesthesia you’ll be getting. Some types of anesthesia can inhibit your ability to drive. Depending on the type of oral surgery you’re having you may have a topical or local anesthetic. If you are having an IV anesthesia, you’ll need someone to drive you home.

What are some important aspects of oral surgery recovery?

Your oral surgery recovery is of critical importance to the outcomes you and your dentists have discussed. Don’t smoke or drink alcohol afterward—they can slow your healing process. If you’re in any pain from swelling, use an ice pack to reduce inflammation. Rather than brushing your teeth, rinse your mouth with salt water every few hours to kill off any bacteria.

Be patient with yourself. Depending on the type of oral surgery you’ve had, recovery can range from 48 hours to 1 month. Make sure you follow up with your dentist as directed.

What are some good foods to eat after oral surgery?

Soft foods eaten at room temperature are the ideal foods to eat after oral surgery. Avoid consuming anything through a straw and don’t eat any hard, crunchy, or chewy foods.

Oral surgeries are common and can range from simple to complex. It’s important to be prepared and to properly manage your recovery. Set up your recovery space for optimum comfort, make sure you’ve arranged for someone to drive you home, and give yourself a minimum of 2 days to heal. In that time, consume soft foods and regularly rinse your mouth with salt water.

The health information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not medical advice and is not a substitute for proper medical care provided by a dentist.

Cigna assumes no responsibility for any circumstances arising out of the use, misuse, interpretation or application of the information provided. Individuals are encouraged to consult with their doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations.