Being prepared for a dental procedure – whether it’s a wisdom tooth extraction or root canal – is a simple way to put your mind at ease. Here are some things to know before you settle into the chair for oral surgery.
Most likely you and your dentist have a great relationship. After all, you commit to seeing him dentist at least twice a year. But not all dentists perform oral surgery and many will refer you to an oral surgeon. While your dentist is no doubt highly selective about to whom he refers you, you have a right to ask questions or check out the surgeon before the big day. During your consultation with the oral surgeon, be sure to ask any and all questions and air your concerns. If for whatever reason you prefer a different oral surgeon, tell your dentist. These are your teeth after all!
Reducing Risk of Infection
Your dentist will weigh the benefits and drawbacks of the surgery in question. With most any surgical procedure, there is always a certain risk of infection. Be sure to inquire about steps you can take to mitigate this possibility. With certain pre-existing conditions, you may be prescribed antibiotics before the procedure to preempt complications. You will want to advise if you have a cardiovascular condition, diabetes, or whether you are pregnant or are taking any medications that could interact with surgery.
Will your surgery involve the use of sedation? Intravenous (IV) and nitrous oxide both offer excellent methods of relaxation while in the dentist’s chair. However, you’ll want to arrange for someone to drive you to and from your oral surgery procedure. Anesthesia can impair your judgment and reaction time – making it dangerous for you to operate a vehicle while under the influence of such sedatives. Further, many insurance plans will only cover local anesthetics like Novocain for certain procedures. Before the procedure, be sure to inquire which type of sedation you may need. For many, Novocain is fine, while others prefer to be knocked out. Have a heart to heart with your oral surgeon or dentist to decide what is best for you – and the procedure.
Be sure to ask your dentist or oral surgeon about the restrictions surrounding eating and drinking leading up to the day of the operation. Pulmonary aspiration – which occurs when food, beverages, and saliva are breathed into the airways – is a possible complication associated with oral (and many other) surgeries. To avoid this, most patients are required to fast at least twelve hours prior to the procedure. Your dentist or oral surgeon will advise what is best, especially if you have certain medical conditions such as diabetes and must maintain stable blood sugar levels. Those who smoke will have some restrictions as well, as the act of inhaling cigarette smoke slows down the healing process and greatly hinders your recuperation.
…and Eating Afterwards
You may be uncomfortable for about 48 hours following the surgery, so you’ll want to think ahead. Stock your pantry and fridge with foods that are easy to eat. Foods like frozen yogurt, gazpacho (cold soup), scrambled eggs, and smoothies are preferable options that require zero to minimal chewing. You’ll want to steer clear of spicy foods, which can exacerbate existing tooth and gum pain. And while it makes sense you should use a straw to avoid chewing, sucking from a straw after a tooth extraction can lead to “dry sockets” which occur when bone and nerve become exposed to outside air.
As with any surgery, you’ll want to dress for the occasion – that is, in short-sleeved, loose, casual and comfortable clothing. You’ll want the dentist and their assistants to have access to your arm, should you be receiving IV sedation. Keep your contact lenses at home; if you wear glasses, bring something to store them in. To promote a sterile environment, you’ll want to remove all jewelry and ditch the makeup and perfume/cologne on the day of your procedure.
When it comes to any surgical procedure, communication before and after is key. With extensive experience in cosmetic, implant, and sedation procedures, Dr. Ernie Soto is an excellent candidate for your dental needs. Offering a warm, personalized approach to patient care, he and his team will give you some much-needed peace of mind. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, call 954-368-6264.