After Jaw Surgery Tips & Diet Instructions Temecula, CA
Jaw surgery requires recovery time and plenty of rest. You also need to avoid overusing your jaw, which means a restricted diet and plenty of rest for full recovery with minimal pain and no complications.
Post Jaw Surgery Diet
Although not all jaw surgeries require wiring the jaw shut after surgery, you do need to be careful about how much you use your jaw and in what way. If your jaw is wired shut, you must stay on a soft/liquid diet until the wires are removed. It is easiest to start on a liquid diet for the first few days, followed by soft foods, then add soft textures over time. Water, fruit juices, milkshakes, smoothies, yogurt, creamy soups or broths, and liquid nutritional supplements are a good start. Staying hydrated and getting enough nutrition are vital during the first stage of recovery.
For the first several weeks following jaw surgery, your diet will be liquids and thin foods prepared in a blender. Baby foods are also a good choice because they contain lots of nutrition. A blender or food processor will help in varying your meals and maintaining a healthy diet. Do not drink anything with a straw while recovering unless your surgeon has okayed it.
If a portion of food is already soft, such as bananas or cottage cheese, they can be blended with a liquid such as juice, water, or broth to reach an easy-to-drink consistency. To save time and effort, mix several servings and store them in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Blend ½ cup of chopped, canned, or cooked fruits with a few tablespoons of pudding, ice cream, or unsweetened fruit juice. Peaches, bananas, and avocado blend well, but add some lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Avoid fruits with tough skins, such as cherries. You can combine ½ cup of cooked vegetables with 2-3 tablespoons of cream sauce or broth. Avoid stringy vegetables such as celery or cooked cabbage.
Tender-cooked meats such as ground beef, poached chicken, and soft fish can be blended with creamed soup, gravy, broth, or vegetable juice until thin. You can get a full serving of meat in about 6-8 tablespoons when pureed.
Various foods can ensure you are getting the right balance of nutrients. Keep your surgeon’s guidelines and the Food Guide recommendations in mind when planning your liquid diet.
Dairy – 3-4 servings daily. A serving may be 1 cup of milk, a milk-based smoothie or shake, a milk-based cream soup, or ¾ cup of pudding, cottage cheese, or yogurt blended with milk.
Meats and Proteins – 2-3 servings daily. A single serving could be blended meats, a small jar of meat baby food, 1-2 eggs, tofu or cooked beans blended into soup, or peanut butter mixed into a smoothie.
Grains – 5-10 servings daily. A serving can be ½ cup strained oatmeal, cream of wheat, or oat bran blended with milk, ½ cup infant cereal blended into milk or juice, or noodles or rice blended in soup or milk.
Fruits & Vegetables – 5-10 servings daily. One-half cup of cooked or canned fruits or vegetables equals a single serving. Fruits can be blended with ice cream, pudding, or fruit juice. Vegetables taste best pureed with sauce, creamy soup, or broth. You can also thin baby food with liquids.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
It is common for patients to lose weight following jaw surgery. However, losing weight slows the healing process, so weigh yourself once a week. If you notice consistent weight loss, take steps to maintain your body weight to ensure you get enough calories for proper healing.
If you have had difficulty getting enough calories, consider these tips:
- Eat frequent, small meals throughout the day.
- Use whole milk or half-and-half in recipes for shakes, smoothies, and creamy soups.
- Add milk powder (4 tablespoons) to each cup of milk used.
- Add high-fat foods and butter to your meals.
- Save low-calorie drinks until after you have eaten your meals.
Fiber-Rich Foods on a Post Jaw Surgery Diet
It is challenging to maintain a high-fiber diet when you are on a restricted diet. However, the combination of not enough fiber and less activity during recovery can lead to constipation. To avoid this, make sure you have plenty of fiber by:
- Eating lots of high-fiber beans and legumes such as split pea soup or blended baked beans
- Drinking prune juice daily or blending prunes
- Mixing wheat germ or bran (1-2 tablespoons) into soups or milk-based drinks.
Liquid nutritional supplements can give you the nutrients you need as part of a healthy liquid meal or as snacks between meals. There are several brands available at most grocery stores and pharmacies, including:
- Basics, NuBasics Plus
- Ensure, Ensure Plus
- Carnation Instant Breakfast
- Resource, Resource Plus, Resource for Kids
- Pediasure (excellent for children)
Helpful Diet Tips for After Jaw Surgery
- If you are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy, opt for Lactaid or soy milk. You can also use delicious soy-based frozen treats instead of ice cream in blended liquid recipes.
- Eating six smaller meals daily is more manageable than three larger meals with snacks.
- Pace yourself when drinking your meals. Drinking is more tiring than eating, and you will feel full quickly.
- Almost anything can be blended if a few tablespoons of liquid are added. Enjoy waffles with syrup? Add them to the blender with some milk, and you have a delicious breakfast.
- Check out Pinterest and cooking websites – many have blender meals and smoothie recipes that are excellent for creating meals after your jaw surgery.
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After Jaw Surgery Do’s and Don’ts
- Avoid talking and strenuous activities after jaw surgery.
- Rest as much as possible and do not bend over, drive, or lift heavy objects, as these can dislodge blood clots and shift the jaw.
- Prevent chapped lips with lip balms or petroleum jelly.
- Drink 2-3 liters of liquid every day.
- For the first 48 hours, apply cold compresses or ice packs to your jaw to reduce pain and swelling.
- After the first week, if you still have pain, warm compresses help.
- Keep your head elevated. Sleep in a recliner or elevate your head with two or three pillows when in bed.
- Take your pain medications as directed. If you wait until you are already in pain, it will take longer to work, and the pain will intensify in the meantime.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol after jaw surgery. If at all possible, quit smoking entirely.
- Warm saline rinses several times a day, particularly after meals, will help prevent infection, keep your mouth clean, and relieve discomfort.
- Do not return to work too soon. Most patients need at least two to four weeks of recovery at home before turning to work, particularly if their job involves a lot of speaking.
- Do not exercise for two weeks following jaw surgery and avoid contact sports for at least twelve weeks. Drs. Pulsipher and Lee can provide you with detailed guidelines.
- Perform any recommended jaw exercises faithfully to promote healing and maintain range of motion.
Jaw Surgery Recovery Timeline
Committing to corrective jaw surgery is a significant time commitment. The surgery takes one to two hours in a hospital setting, followed by one to three days in the hospital. Once you return home, you will be on a liquid diet for two weeks. After this, you can slowly begin adding foods such as cooked, mashed foods such as mashed potatoes, hummus, refried beans, and mashed, cooked vegetables. It can take up to eight weeks for the jaw to heal sufficiently to add foods that require chewing.
Rest and nutrition are the focus during the first few weeks following surgery. At the first month mark, Drs. Pulsipher and Lee will recommend specific jaw exercises to strengthen the muscles and maintain range of motion. You must do these exercises faithfully to ensure proper healing. For most patients, any needed orthodontic work is adjusted or added at the six-week point. Your jaw should be fully healed for chewing by 12 weeks, with complete recovery within a year. Physical therapy, orthodontic work, and facial exercises may continue for months.
Successful jaw surgery recovery depends on working closely with your oral surgeon and orthodontist. The first step is a complete evaluation of your jawbone abnormality and a detailed treatment plan. Contact Rancho Oral & Facial Surgery at 951-600-7457 for an appointment with Dr. Pulsipher or Dr. Lee to learn how jaw surgery can improve your life.