SUNDAY, September 4, 2022 (HealthDay News) — If you’re planning on having oral surgery, be prepared, don’t be afraid, suggests an expert — and stay off YouTube.
“I tell all my patients, ‘The more you know, the better it gets.’ As healthcare professionals, we are not trying to scare patients with information; It’s just that when you’re prepared for something, when you know what’s going to happen, the level of anxiety is reduced and it happens more smoothly,” said Dr. Mary Papageorge. She is the director of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston.
Papageorge said many, if not most or all, patients are anxious about oral and maxillofacial surgery. The many reasons for this type of surgery include removing wisdom teeth, cancer, birth defects, and to correct injuries.
She recommends asking your doctor questions to ease anxiety.
“I tell my patients, ‘Please don’t watch YouTube,'” she said. “Of course you can, but if you have any questions, you should ask us. Our experience is that many patients have gone through similar procedures; We know their postoperative course and can effectively pass this information on to the patient. The internet offers a wealth of information – but sometimes that scares patients more.”
Talk to others who have gone through these surgeries, Papageorge suggested. They can provide information about their own experiences with the procedure and the aftercare.
“With orthognathic surgery [reconstructive surgery of the jaws]because it is extensive and there is quite a long postoperative course, we ask patients who have already had surgery to talk to potential patients,” she said in a university press release. “That way they at least have the reassurance of a real person who’s seen the same surgeon or gone through the same facility.”
Another way to prepare is to gather food and supplies you will need during recovery. After surgery, some foods can be eaten and some cannot.
“What patients can eat afterwards is a very important question. These procedures usually require a soft food diet for a period of time,” Papageorge said. “It can be comforting for patients to know they have the necessary items at home and ready to go.”
Also important: know your limits before and after the operation. For example, if you’re going to be given sedation or general anesthesia, don’t eat or drink anything for six to eight hours before the surgery. After that, you are not allowed to drive for 24 hours.
If you have young children or other people who depend on you, make plans ahead of time for their care, she suggested.
“We tell our patients that they shouldn’t take care of anyone else post-op — they should be taken care of,” Papageorge said.
Ask for help. You need someone you trust to take you home and stay with you for a while. You could have side effects from pain medication or a general reaction to the anesthesia or the procedure itself, so it’s important to have someone you can rely on if you have nausea, vomiting, or other symptoms.
“I think it helps any patient after surgery to have emotional support at home,” Papageorge said. “Even after less extensive operations – for example several tooth extractions – nutrition is still affected, there is still pain. And there is still the need for reassurance and security.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on oral health.
SOURCE: Tufts University, press release, August 23, 2022
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