Instructions And Information
Following Jaw Surgery
Bleeding – Prior to being discharged from the hospital, the bleeding should have settled after overnight observation in hospital. With upper jaw surgery, nasal bleeding can persist for a few days when getting up and moving around, as settled blood may trickle out the nose, so keep a tissue at hand. Vigorous nasal bleeding that is not controlled by pressure, should encourage direct contact with your surgeon.
Sutures (stitches) – Your sutures are dissolving and with the expected numbness should be kept clean as there is a long running stitch. If stitch loosens, please advise at your first post operative appointment.
Oral Hygiene – Brush the teeth gently with a small soft bristle toothbrush. You may use toothpaste. Your upper gums will have reduced sensation if you have had upper jaw surgery. Be careful not to injure the gums while brushing. Patient should rinse their mouth at least 3 times a day with salty water or using the mouthwash prescribed, especially after eating. Please do not rely solely on rinsing for oral hygiene, tooth brushing is essential.
Physical exercise – You should not participate in any exercise or sports that may involve hitting your jaw. These will include all contact sports, any sport involving a ball or any other aggressive sports. You can resume light aerobic exercise, swimming or running as soon as you feel able. Do not clench or stress you jaw muscles with heavy lifting or activity.
If you have had a bone graft from your hip area, any physical activity should be approached slowly and carefully. It may take 4 weeks before the hip area feels comfortable with exercise. No lifting of anything heavier than your clothing for the first 4 weeks is encouraged after hip surgery.
Swelling – It is common to experience some swelling and bruising around the mouth, cheek, eyes, chest and side of the face. The amount of swelling varies between patients and also generally, more swelling occurs with lower jaw surgery than upper jaw surgery. Swollen lips can be made more comfortable using lip balm. Ice packs and non-steroidals (anti-inflammatory drug used to diminish swelling) will be used to minimize your swelling. You will be encouraged to keep your head elevated for the first week following surgery, since an upright posture and early ambulation minimizes the swelling that may occur. During the second and third post-operative weeks, this swelling subsides dramatically.
Diet – It is important to only eat vitamised foods for the first 2 weeks, no chewing until advised by Richard. Vitamised foods may include baby food, smoothies, soup etc. Do not use a straw for eating for the first seven days as this creates a negative pressure in your mouth and could cause bleeding or wound breakdown. The food texture is less important then the effect of pressure on the operative jaw. You can swallow whatever the tongue will allow but no use of your teeth until advised by Richard.
Chinstrap – If applied, your chinstrap should be worn for 4-5 days following surgery. When removing your chinstrap, place one finger on your skin (pulling the skin in the opposite direction) and slowly peel the chinstrap off. If you do not feel comfortable doing this yourself please call our rooms and we will remove it for you at the first post-operative visit.
Elastics – Elastics are placed intra-operatively and must be worn at all times. It is a good idea to take a photo of your mouth with the elastics in place. If for any reason one breaks or needs to be removed, you will then know where to place them again. You will leave the hospital with a supply of replacement elastics but if you run out, please advise the rooms to collect additional bands.
Xrays – Following surgery you will be asked to have new Xrays taken which can be done at your convenience prior to the first post-operative visit.
Altered Sensation – You will have altered sensation in your lips, gums, cheeks, eyelids and possibly the tongue. As your nerves heal, you will experience tingling then a graduated return of function is anticipated. If you are not numb, this may mean you require more pain relief.
Returning to work and school – 2 weeks off your work or school is anticipated for most patients, however this can be negotiated prior to the procedure. Reduced energy levels are anticipated and your ability to concentrate is impaired to varying degrees. Allowing adequate post-operative healing in a relaxed setting is ideal for your comfort.
- You will be provided with a Chlorhexidine mouthrinse to be used from the first day of discharge at least 3 times a day. This should be rinsed gently or just held in your mouth for 1 minute before gently spitting this out. Alternatively, warm water (as warm as tolerated but not burning) with saturated regular salt can be used or alternate the two. The rinsing is especially important after meals to avoid food sitting along your wounds.
- Antibiotics for 7-14 days are used to prevent wound infections but please advise of any reaction and cease their use with any concerns. We can provide alternatives if a new drug reaction is encountered.
- Analgesia – You are encouraged to keep using simple pain relief such as Paracetomol and Nurofen for the first 5 days. Do not exceed the daily maximum dosage and the medication can be taken in waking hours with additional night-time pain relief often required. The use of stronger narcotic prescribed analgesia will be arranged but may often not be required as the operation is not as painful as might be expected. The stronger the analgesia the more likely symptomatic reactions like nausea, vomiting, dizziness and constipation are encountered. Should these occur please feel free to contact your surgeon.
Mon-Fri: 9am to 5pm
Appointments outside of these normal hours may be available on some days