The term "surgery" is a pretty daunting one. Oral surgery is certainly no exception when it comes to experiencing feelings of nervousness and trepidation before a scheduled procedure. Patients continually report, however, that the most important factor in reduced anxiety before oral surgery is being well-informed. We've put together a list of important topics and questions to discuss with your dentist before arriving for your surgical treatment.
- What is the procedure? Conditions treated by oral surgery might include:
- Wisdom tooth removal
- Dental implants
- Jaw surgery
- Other disorders
Talk with your dentist about what your prescribed treatment entails. Understand the procedure itself, the recovery and necessary follow-up. Don't be afraid to ask your oral health care professional any questions and address all of your fears at a pre-surgery consult. If the amount of information seems overwhelming, ask for written documentation you can refer to once you arrive home and call back with any questions.
- Medications: Always update your dental team on any medications you are taking, they need to know to administer treatment and sedation as safely and effectively as possible. Your dentist will tell you if you will need any prescriptions before or after surgery. If so, pick them up in advance or arrange to have someone help you acquire them so they are immediately available when you need them following your procedure.
- Sedation: Anesthesia for oral surgery may involve:
- Local anesthetic (shot)
- Nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
- Oral sedation (prescription medication)
- Conscious sedation (IV)
- General anesthesia/deep sedation (IV)
The sedation you require will be dependent on the treatment being performed as well as preferences of you and your dentist. Discuss the options and decide which form of anesthesia is most appropriate for your surgery and will result in the most comfortable experience and positive outcome. You should receive written instructions helping you prepare for the type of anesthesia you will be administered.
- Appointment day: Wear comfortable clothing. Avoid makeup and lipstick. If possible, leave your contacts at home and wear glasses. Brush and floss your teeth before coming to your appointment. If only a local anesthetic is being used, eat a light meal an hour or two before your scheduled treatment. Other types of anesthesia require special diet preparation and instruction. You might also want to bring a tube of lip balm as the lips can sometimes become chapped after long procedures.
- Post-surgery preparation: In the midst of getting everything ready for your oral surgery, you may overlook planning for your recovery. If you are undergoing a major procedure, have someone attend the appointment with you. Besides the comfort and reassurance that having a supporter offers, depending on the type of sedation you are administered, you may or may not be able to drive yourself home afterwards. Be prepared with an appropriate post-surgery diet (you probably will not feel up to a trip to the grocery store.) Soft foods, such as yogurt, mashed potatoes, soups and smoothies are a must. Try to avoid anything too acidic or spicy while your gum tissue heals. Avoid drinking out of a straw, as this can dislodge clots and lead to a painful condition called dry sock that will have you returning to your dentist for additional treatment.
In addition to the right food, have ice/ice packs on hand and prepare a comfortable space to rest and recover after surgery. Lots of pillows will help you stay comfortably propped up. Consider using an old set of pillow cases and sheets to prevent staining (from blood or drainage from your mouth). Stockpile magazines, books, movies, or games to keep you entertained with appropriate low key activities during your recovery.
- Smoking and alcohol: Smoking is usually not permitted for at least twelve hours before surgery and for at least twenty-four hours following a procedure. Smoking and alcohol use can both interfere with and delay the healing process.
Though you might feel apprehensive of major dental procedures such as those listed above, the benefits of oral surgery can be vital to your oral health. Comprehensively discussing your surgical procedure with your dentist and making all the necessary preparations for treatment and recovery beforehand will lead to a less stressful and more successful oral surgery experience.