How To Make Recovery Smoother After Corrective Jaw Surgery

Some people think that jaw surgery will be akin to when they had their wisdom teeth out. However, corrective jaw surgery is major. Whether you are having your maxilla or mandible re-positioned (or both), you'll want to prepare for at least a month of taking it easy. Here are some tips to keep in mind after your surgery

Make Sure You Have Protein Supplements Every Day

Corrective jaw surgery often requires a liquid/soft diet for about four to six weeks. While it may be tempting to splurge on milkshakes, make sure that you have a protein supplement, like an Ensure, Carnation, or Isagenix drink. It's so important after surgery to get adequate amounts of protein to help your bones heal. If there aren't sufficient nutrients in your diet, you risk the non-union of bones, meaning that they may heal incorrectly and you may need a repeat surgery. 

Maintain Your Rubber Band Usage

Some people have their jaws wired shut to speed up their recovery. However, once the wires are clipped, your surgeon may move you to rubber bands that attach to your braces or arch-bars. While you may be able to take the rubber bands off to make eating easier, you should put them back on right away after you've finished a meal. Like a cast on an arm, wires and rubber bands splint the mandible and maxilla. Rubber bands also help you adjust to new occlusion. 

Take Warm Showers

You will likely have lots of blood and mucus left over in your nose and throat for the first week after surgery. Unfortunately, your doctor may tell you that you cannot blow your nose for a couple of weeks (it can cause bleeding and too much force on soft tissues). Since you cannot blow your nose to get rid of blood and mucous, the best way to clear everything up is with a warm shower. The heat from the water will loosen up sinus congestion and make it easier to spit out. The heat from the shower will also feel great on your skin and help increase circulation and healing. Just make sure that your showers aren't too hot since they can lower your blood pressure and possibly make you dizzy. After you take a warm shower, use some saline nasal spray to help keep your congestion away.

Go on Walks When You Have Energy

You won't be able to do heavy lifting or intense exercise for a while, but you should start walking when you feel good--you can even start in the hospital after surgery with a short walk with the help of a nurse or family member. Walking improves your circulation and helps you avoid blood clots after surgery. Also, postoperative depression is a very real problem, and walking can help you mitigate those symptoms. Of course, you should keep your walks short and rest when you need it.

Talk with your oral surgeon for more tips to make your recovery go smoothly after surgery.