If you thought it was painful leading up to dental surgery, the immediate days after can be just as painful, especially if you can’t eat! You are told to stay on a liquid diet for several days so as not to disrupt the sutures sewn into your gums. They are probably self-dissolving so the oral surgeon said you can start eating soft foods as they disintegrate and as you can tolerate the continually lower levels of pain. Then there are patients already suffering from swallowing difficulties like those suffering from dysphagia, making it impossible to eat something even as soft as a slice of bread and butter. Here are some suggestions that might help.
1. Thicken Those Liquids
Have you ever gone on a liquid fast before? While the first day may be doable, by the second day you may start experiencing increasing bouts of nausea. There is nothing in your stomach to absorb natural acids produced for digestion and it may get so severe that you begin vomiting. That will do nothing for the pain that already verges on unbearable. You can still do a liquid diet in which you don’t have to chew but you will need to use thickeners.
Thickening agents from the SimplyThick company were developed to thicken liquids so that people suffering from dysphagia can swallow without aspirating. It will also help you to feel a bit fuller and will help prevent stomach acids from eating away at that sensitive lining. In the beginning, you may want to use a bit less of the thickening agent so that it is easier to swallow. Increase over time so that you get that sensation of being full.
2. Be Selective in OTC Pain Meds
This is something else of which you might not be aware. Many of the OTC pain medications can thin the blood, causing you to bleed more in the area of your recent dental surgery. Before taking any NSAIDs, ask your dentist, surgeon, or even your primary care doctor, if you should avoid any of these. For sure, don’t take aspirin if you can help it. They are used in heart patients to prevent clotting and strokes, so they would unfortunately work the same for post-op patients. The key is to avoid bleeding while finding a way to swallow foods allowable on post-op and dysphagia diets.
3. Refrain from Unnecessary Talking and Moving
While you can’t sit immobile for periods of up to two weeks just because you’ve had a few teeth removed or the gums contoured, you don’t want to go clubbing or to your aerobics class! All that blood pumping to your brain will also pump through those sutures you are waiting to heal. The same goes for talking. It’s not time to go to the debate club, so be as calm and untalkative as humanly possible. Disrupting those stitches can necessitate another trip to the dentist and another new round of pain.
Having one tooth pulled is probably not going to cause an inordinate amount of pain unless you get a dry socket. However, if you have difficulty swallowing already and try to eat something that causes choking, that pain can be magnified several times over. Just remember to follow the doctor’s orders and take advantage of the time you can spend with a plausible excuse for being lazy.