After Jaw Surgery in the Hospital

Things to have on hand after your jaw surgery:

Arrange to have someone stay with you to take care of you after your surgery. This is a major surgical procedure. You will need 24 hour care for at least a week.

  • Ice packs, frozen peas/corn, or gel packs
  • Heating Pad or gel pack
  • Child sized tooth brush
  • Ensure/Boost protein meals in a can (you will need to consume at least five of these a day)
  • Large mug/container with a straw for your ice water
  • Vaseline/ Carmex for your lips

Medication Instructions

Pain control will be more effective if medications are taken when pain is mild to moderate. DO NOT wait until the pain is severe before taking your medication.

  1. Be sure to take your medication WITH FOOD and as directed to stay comfortable and heal quickly.
  2. DO NOT drink alcohol or drive while you are taking narcotic pain medication.
  3. Ask your doctor before taking other medication.
  4. Constipation is a common side effect with narcotic medication, so increase the fluids and fiber in your diet. A fiber diet includes bran, brown rice, raw fruit, vegetables, and soups.
  5. Sleep with your head elevated by a few pillows. This will help reduce the pain and swelling.
  6. Place a towel over your chest for the post operative blood-tinged saliva that may leak out of your mouth while you are sleeping.
  7. Get plenty of rest to give your body time to repair itself.

Elastics

You will have elastics/ rubber bands on your braces. These act as stabilizers for your jaw. Please leave them in until the surgeon sees you at your post operative appointment. You may remove them to eat and brush your teeth. Be sure to change your elastics daily.

Bleeding

A certain amount of bleeding is to be expected following surgery. Slight bleeding, oozing, or redness in the saliva is not uncommon. It is normal to experience blood-tinged saliva a few days after surgery, as well as slight oozing after eating or brushing your teeth. To resolve this, we recommend warm salt water rinses. To minimize further bleeding, do not become excited, sit upright, and avoid exercise. If bleeding does not subside, call for further instructions.

Swelling

Significant swelling is normal for up to 10 days in the lower jaw surgery, and up to 3 weeks in the upper jaw surgery.

The swelling that is normally expected is usually proportional to the surgery involved. Swelling around the mouth, cheeks, eyes and sides of the face is not uncommon. This is the body’s normal reaction to surgery and eventual repair. The swelling will not become apparent until the day following surgery and will not reach its maximum until two to three days post-operatively. However, the swelling may be minimized by the immediate use of ice packs.

After your surgery, you will have a “jaw bra” in place. There are two pockets on the outside for ice packs. You may refill these baggies with crushed ice or you may use two plastic bags filled with ice, frozen peas/corn, or gel packs. The ice packs should be used at 20 minute intervals, (20 minutes on and 20 minutes off).

Heat packs can be used by the third day at 20 minute intervals. You may continue wearing the “jaw bra” for comfort.

Apply Vaseline to your lips to prevent cracking post operatively.

Diet

You will be required to stay on a NO CHEW diet for six weeks. We have provided you a book with recipes for your special diet. You may use a straw. We recommend that you drink plenty of fluids. Keep your water mug full of ice water by your bedside (the cold soothes your sore throat).

Oral Hygiene

No rinsing of any kind should be performed until the day following surgery. You can remove your elastics and brush your teeth the next morning of surgery. You should begin rinsing at least three to four times a day with a cup of warm water mixed with a half teaspoon of salt. If it is too uncomfortable to remove the elastics, you may leave them in the first day or two. Alternate with the Peridex mouth wash after meals three times a day.

Remember: a clean mouth heals better and faster.

Activity

Make sure you have at least two weeks that you are free from heavy responsibilities: working, public speaking, important tests, heavy lifting. You should not do any aerobic exercise until the surgeon tells you it is okay to proceed with normal activities.

Sutures

Our surgeons usually use the dissolvable type of sutures/stitches that fall out between 7-14 days after surgery. Sutures are placed in the area of surgery to minimize post-operative bleeding and to help healing. Sometimes they become dislodged. This is no cause for alarm–just remove the suture from your mouth and discard it. If we used a type that needs to be removed, we will schedule you an appointment.

Nausea & Vomiting

In the event of nausea and/or vomiting following surgery, do not take anything by mouth for at least an hour including the prescribed medicine. Try sipping slowly over a 15 minute period on some ginger ale or another clear soda. When the nausea subsides, you can begin taking solid foods and the prescribed medicine.