Patients are provided with clear instructions on what to eat before surgery and when to begin fasting if required. After surgery, we provide clear dietary instructions, as the foods patients can eat safely can vary considerably according to which surgical procedure they receive.
Food choices after surgery can also be impacted by dietary issues that may include food allergies or intolerances or medical conditions like diabetes. If these conditions are present, we will discuss the foods that can be safely enjoyed before the surgery takes place. However, we have included some general guidelines below.
After intravenous sedation or general anaesthesia, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids, especially as some patients will have a sore throat after surgery. A cold drink can ease the discomfort of a sore throat and wounds, or patients can allow ice chips to dissolve slowly in the mouth. Initially, drinks such as carbonated beverages or sports drinks should be diluted with water to make them less fizzy and reduce the sugar content. It is better to drink from a glass or cup and avoid using a straw for the first 24 hours unless the jaws are wired closed. Ensure any hot drinks are not too hot as they could burn the tongue or mouth, especially if the surgical area is still numb.
As the mouth heals, the jaw may be sore and unable to open fully, but it is important to try not to miss meals. Maintaining good nutrition will help patients feel better, so they are more able to heal quickly and have enough energy to begin resuming everyday activities.
For the first week after surgery, choose softer foods requiring minimal chewing, such as mashed potatoes, pasta and soft vegetables, eggs and oatmeal. Avoid hard or sticky foods that could aggravate the wound or foods containing nuts or seeds that could become lodged in the surgical site, potentially causing pain and infection. As the mouth begins to heal, more foods can be reintroduced into the diet, but if the jaw feels stiff or sore, it is better to continue with a softer diet until the condition improves.
Patients who have their jaws wired shut will need to obtain adequate nutrition through a liquid diet. Again, we will give precise instructions on which foods to choose to ensure that patients receive enough calories. Food choices may include pureed fruits and vegetables and soups and smoothies.