Oral surgery seems to be something that most of us go through at one point in our lives, whether it be a wisdom teeth extraction, removal of an infected tooth, gum graft or implant. The pain, swelling and stiffness after oral surgery can make it hard to eat, so it is good to plan ahead. I had two of my wisdom teeth extracted this last summer and had no bruising or real swelling on the outside of my face, and healing went pretty well thanks to several key recovery tips that I want to share with you today.
Tip #1: Eat Well
If you do any kind of research on the internet ahead of time for suggestions on what to eat after surgery, you will find a lot of suggestions for sugary foods that will not do you any favors for your recovering body and immune system. Often times you find suggestions for eating soft foods like pudding, ice cream, yogurt, Jell-O and applesauce. Some of these foods are okay, for example you can find unflavored yogurts that aren’t loaded with sugar and add some honey if you need to. Applesauce isn’t necessarily bad, but it is higher in natural sugars (with some fiber), but there really isn’t fat and protein in it. Most puddings, Jell-O and ice creams will have unwanted ingredients and high amounts of sugar, unless you make more of a custard with some heavy cream and egg yolks for some fat and protein at least.
What should be focused on instead is getting in real, nutrient-dense foods with all of the macronutrients: fat, protein and carbs. Protein is especially needing in rebuilding the damaged tissue in the mouth and is key for a faster recovery. This can be accomplished in blended soups, protein boosted smoothies, protein shakes and bone broth with lots of butter.
Check out these ideas for better nutrition during recovery:
- Protein Shakes – For about the first week after oral surgery, it hurts to chew and you want to open your mouth and move it as little as possible due to the soreness. Mixing up a protein shake is an easy way to get in protein that doesn’t involve chewing. Going with something like a goat protein that has all essential amino acids will be better than only using a single source vegetable protein (like pea or brown rice protein) as it won’t have all the amino acids needed. Mt. Capra sells some great protein powders that can be found here.
- Protein Smoothies – Smoothies are a bit more filling and allow you to incorporate more nutrition in by blending in other ingredients. For example you can blend in ghee, coconut oil, or goat milk cream flakes for healthy fats that provide your body with easy to digest and absorb Medium Chain Triglycerides that act as quick fuel. You can also blend in fruits and greens for fiber, vitamins and minerals. Use some goat milk as the base for even more nutrition.
- Pineapples – Pineapple is rich in bromelain, which is a powerful enzyme that has been studied in post-surgery recovery and found to help minimize swelling and inflammation and speed recovery time. While some would prefer to take bromelain in a supplement, I enjoyed many pineapple coconut, also known as Pina Colada, smoothies after my wisdom teeth extraction. You can find a great Pina Colada Smoothie recipe with our Coconut Dream Deep 30 protein added here. Yummy!
- Blended Soups – Soups are going to be your friend, especially blended soups. After I got my wisdom teeth removed I blended all of my soups in the blender for about two weeks. (Most don’t go that long, I was just really worried about the possibility of getting food stuck in the socket). Soups allow you to get protein, fat, and carbs in if you add meat, veggies, and possibly even a starch like rice. It is important to get in a complete meal like this.
- Bone Broth with lots of ghee! – Bone broth is a great functional food any day, but can also be helpful in recovery. It contains minerals, has smaller amounts of protein, and collagen! But what is a good bone broth without some fat to make it tastier and more satisfying? I suggest melting in lots of our goat milk ghee. This provides protein and healthy fats (fuel for the body) in between meals and involves zero chewing (thank goodness!).
- Micro-nutrition – Minerals and vitamins are also key to the proper functioning of the body and for rebuilding. Bone is after all made of minerals. Incorporating some mineral rich food (like bone broth), milk, and our Capra Mineral Whey can be a good idea. You can also include a greens powder like our CapraGreens in your smoothies or drink it by itself to get extra veggies and vitamins in.
Tip #2: Take a Few Key Supplements
The number one supplement I made sure to have was homeopathic arnica. Arnica is well known for helping speed recovery and reduce bruising and swelling after injury.
A Vitamin D supplement might be a good idea as well, as it is helpful for inflammation and is important for using calcium in the body to build bone.
A good probiotic can also be helpful. While it might not seem directly related to recovery, the numbing agent used in the surgery and any antibiotics used can wreak some havoc on the good bacteria in the gut. Eating different foods can also have an impact on gut bacteria, especially if you do end up indulging in some extra pudding or ice cream. The stress on the body in general also has an impact on the microbiome. I like and personally take our Caprobiotics Plus. It has 10 different strains of probiotics and 61 billion cfu per serving.
Tip #3: Rest
Rest is never underrated. When the body is in a rebuilding state, it needs extra nutrients and rest. Pain has a way of draining the body of energy and resources. In a society that is go go go, don’t feel bad about taking a few days on the couch to let your body rest and relax.
When we are in a relaxed state, we are in a parasympathetic state. In a parasympathetic state the body is able to rejuvenate and heal. On the other hand, when we are in a stressed, or sympathetic state, the body is more focused on what it needs to do in the immediate future (ie. run from a tiger, finish that project before the deadline) and is pumping out adrenaline and cortisol. These two hormones break down the body (break up stored glycogen and protein) in order to make more fuel for the body in the form of glucose.
I hope this information is helpful to you and helps to provide you with meal planning ideas post-surgery.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a doctor or medical professional and none of this information is intended as medical advice. You will need to consult your own health care provider and oral surgeon for specific instructions on how best to heal after your surgery.