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Healthy Eating & Exercise After Oral Surgery

Healthy Eating & Exercise After Oral Surgery

Healthy Eating & Exercise After Oral Surgery
Click here to see the original article by Dominique Alessi

Dear (current or soon-to-be) oral surgery recoverers,

Welcome to the tribe. I just got my second gum graft, and I’ll need to get at least 1 more, if not 3 more :/ I’ll be honest—it’s not a fun operation, especially for someone who hates needles, exercises rigorously, and loves eating crunchy things like nuts and fresh produce.

But the procedure itself is pretty quick, and I’ve learned some things to make the recovery period a bit more tolerable. Hopefully I can make it a little more tolerable for you as well!

**Note: I am not a doctor; none of these recommendations are official post-op instructions. Everything in this post is based solely on my own experience with the gum graft procedure; please listen to your body and to your doctor.

EXERCISE

After a gum graft, you’re limited to exercise that doesn’t get your heart rate up too high. For the first few days after the surgery, I’d recommend just light walking—it’s important to still keep your body moving, but you want to keep intensity low. I do best with a morning workout, so I started each day with a ~1 hour walk, and then tried to get in at least a few minutes of walking every hour or so throughout the day. I kept my pace pretty slow for the first few days; at around day 4, I started to increase my pace and add some elevation (i.e., hills).

Once most of your pain has subsided (for me, this was around day 5 or 6), you can try adding in some light resistance training—things like bicep curls, rows, modified pushups, tricep extensions, standing crunches, squats, and calf raises. All exercises should be performed in a slow and controlled manner, and all with light weights (or just body weight). I personally tried to stick to exercises that kept me upright—I experienced pain if blood rushed to my head too quickly.

Stretching is also fair game—in fact, I highly encourage it to avoid stiffness from the likely increased amount of sitting post-operation.

EATING WELL

After getting a gum graft, you’ll need to be on a soft-food diet for 1-2 weeks. Here are some healthy options:

GRAINS

Non-whole grains will be easier to eat, though not as nutritious. I’d recommend sticking to the easier-to-eat versions for the first few days.

  • Oatmeal
  • Soft bread
  • Well-cooked rice
  • Well-cooked pasta
  • Porridge

FRUITS

  • Fruit smoothies
  • Bananas
  • Applesauce
  • Soft pears

VEGGIES

  • Green smoothie
  • Veggie soups
  • Soft carrots, broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Baked potatoes

PROTEINS

  • Red lentils
  • Beans — refried or well-mashed
  • Nut butters (should blend / mix them into things so they aren’t as sticky)

OTHER

  • Eggs
  • Soft / melted cheese
  • Yogurt (dairy-free if needed)
  • Milk (dairy-free if needed)

SAMPLE EATING PLAN

Here’s a sample eating plan that’s pretty similar to the one I followed after getting my gum graft. I include here a bit more variety than is perhaps needed or desired, so feel free to pick and choose what you want (e.g., if you like oats, no need to switch them out for buckwheat porridge if you don’t want to!).

Several general notes about the plan:

  • Green veggies and fruits are included everyday; just because you’re on a soft food diet doesn’t mean you can’t get in your F&V!
  • Breakfast every day is a green smoothie. I include a link to a general recipe, but I encourage you to vary the greens and fruits to ensure you cover a broad spectrum of nutrients. As an example, you can alternate between kale, spinach, and swiss chard for the greens, and between peaches, apples, and different types of berries for the fruit.
  • Legumes and nuts/seeds are included as sources of protein (eggs and yogurt are also good protein options for non-vegans). While this plan isn’t particularly protein-heavy, your basic protein needs should be met.
  • whole grain porridge of some sort is included every day as a source of healthy, complex carbs. This helps with satiety and digestion. Note that porridge ingredients should be blended with a blender or food processor before eating.
  • Fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, and whole grains are all good sources of fiber, which is particularly important as you heal; you’ll likely be on some form of pain medication, and some (e.g., ibuprofen) are known to cause constipation and other digestive upsets.
  • Suggested recipes are hyperlinked, but feel free to do your own thing!

DAY OF SURGERY (DAY 0)

Eat normally before the surgery—unless you’re doing full anesthesia, you don’t need to do anything special food-/drink-wise before the procedure. Afterwards, you’ll probably have a lower appetite and won’t want anything that requires chewing. Stick to easy things like applesauce, blended up soups, blended oatmeal, smoothies, etc.

DAY 1

Meals:

Snacks:

  • Snack 1: Plain yogurt (vegan or dairy) with applesauce and cinnamon (optional: nut butter)
  • Snack 2: Rolled oats soaked in water (or milk) overnight, almond butter, prunes (blend using hand-blender or food processor)

DAY 2

Meals:

Snacks:

  • Snack 1: Mashed sweet potato with almond milk (optional: nut butter)
  • Snack 2: Cream of wheat, almond butter, cinnamon, prunes (blend using hand-blender or food processor)

DAY 3

Meals:

Snacks:

  • Snack 1: Egg with salt/pepper, applesauce Vegan alternative: avocado with salt and pepper
  • Snack 2: Oats soaked in water (or milk) overnight, peanut butter, applesauce (blend using hand-blender or food processor)

DAY 4

Meals:

Snacks:

  • Snack 1: Plain yogurt (vegan or dairy) with applesauce and cinnamon (opt: nut butter)
  • Snack 2: Buckwheat porridge (soak buckwheat groats in water overnight, drain/rinse), almond butter, prunes (blend using hand-blender or food processor)

DAY 5

Meals:

Snacks:

  • Snack 1: Mashed sweet potato with almond milk (opt: nut butter)
  • Snack 2: Cream of wheat, almond butter, dates (blend using hand-blender or food processor)

DAY 6

Meals:

Snacks:

  • Snack 1: Egg with salt/pepper, applesauce Vegan alternative: avocado with salt and pepper
  • Snack 2: Soaked rolled oats (just oats; no dates), peanut butter, applesauce (blend using hand-blender or food processor)

DAY 7

Meals:

Snacks:

  • Snack 1: Plain yogurt (vegan or dairy) with applesauce and cinnamon (opt: nut butter)
  • Snack 2: Buckwheat porridge (soak buckwheat groats in water overnight, drain/rinse), almond butter, prunes (blend using hand-blender or food processor)

. . .

If you’re recovering from oral surgery, chances are you’re not having the best time of your life. But hopefully the above suggestions can make things a little more bearable. Happy healing!

Written by Dominique Alessi

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