Eating and Nutrition Tips During Orthognathic Surgery Recovery
Orthognathic surgery, or jaw surgery, is an intricate procedure carried out on the jaw, in severe cases of dental misalignments. Jaw surgery can treat dental issues such as overbite, underbite, open bite, crossbite, too much or too little teeth showing and a receding or protruding jaw. It is an extremely successful operation that can both enhance facial harmony as well as correct irregularities of the jawbone, improving how the jaw operates and how the teeth work, as well as correct problems with speech, improve sleep quality, improve chewing, biting and much more.
After surgery, it’s possible to experience some discomfort, as with any operation but with rest and careful attention to dietary choices, recovery can be smooth sailing. Our team here at Northenden House Orthodontics have years of expertise in assisting jaw surgery patients, so if you're seeking orthognathic surgery in Manchester, the below guide may help you to make that all-important decision.
How Can Jaw Surgery Impact My Diet?
Orthognathic surgery is carried out under anaesthesia. The operation itself consists of lengthening and shortening the jaw bones and moving them to a desired position, which will help the teeth and jaw meet properly. Jaw bones are secured into place with plates and screws and elastic bands are used between the top and bottom braces, to help guide the teeth into their new bite position.
Due to the nature of the procedure, alterations to your diet will be necessary, as the bones will need time to heal. For the first few days after the operation, you will be able to move your jaw, but you may experience some discomfort, swelling, and stiffness, so using a small plastic syringe, a small spoon, or a straw to eat and drink may be necessary, meaning that a diet of liquids is advised.
After a few days, the elastics that are holding your jaw together may be loosened and possibly taken off at mealtimes, at which point, you will be able to introduce pureed foods into your diet. Chewing will need to be kept to a minimum for at least 6 weeks after surgery, but as time goes on and healing begins, a soft diet can be introduced, alongside healthy snacks, until you are ready to start eating a normal diet again.
Staged Diet Tips for Optimum Recovery
In the first few days after your surgery, you may feel it’s uncomfortable to chew and move food around your mouth, due to swelling and stiffness of your jaw. A staged diet starting with purely liquids is recommended.
A liquid diet is recommended straight after surgery and for the first few days. During this time, it is essential you drink plenty of fluids, aiming for at least 8 cups of fluids per day. Sipping continuously throughout the day may be easier than consuming large quantities in one go.
- Fortified milk is a great way of keeping your calorie intake up. 1 pint contains 600 calories so aiming for 1 to 2 pints per day should suffice. Make your fortified milk by adding 4 to 5 heaped teaspoons of milk powder to one pint of full cream milk and use it to make milkshakes, coffee, hot chocolate, and malted drinks.
- Milkshakes are a great way of adding extra nutrients to your liquid diet. Use milkshake powder or syrup with fortified milk, blend fruit with fortified milk to make a smoothie, and add cream, ice cream, honey, or peanut butter for extra energy.
- Try making your own by boiling vegetables and adding cooked meat before using a blender to puree.
- You can also try tins of creamed soups, instant soups made up with milk or condensed soups diluted with milk.
- Sugar-free squash and cordials are great for extra hydration.
- Drinking yoghurts and full-fat yoghurt are great for extra nutrients, try adding milk to dilute it if it's too thick.
- You can get Meritene and Complan in milkshake form and as soups from most chemists and supermarkets. They are fortified with protein, vitamins, and minerals to help aid nutrition. Other forms of supplements are available from your doctor on prescription if needed.
Once you have been out of the hospital for the first week and have started to feel some of the discomfort ease, it is advisable to start eating pureed foods. Start by pureeing the foods you would usually eat to a smooth consistency in a food processor or blender, using sauces, liquids, and gravies to make a thinner consistency. Foods to avoid blending are green beans, celery, nuts, muesli, crisps, toast, skins, seeds, sausages, peas, sweetcorn, seeded and granary bread, beans and chewy foods such as tough meats.
- Porridge or instant oats made with full-fat milk.
- Scrambled egg with grated cheese.
- Wheat biscuits with full-fat milk.
- Smooth full-fat yoghurt with mashed banana or fruit puree.
- Finely minced or pureed meat or fish with gravy or sauce, such as pureed cottage pie, or pureed fish and parsley sauce, beef casserole, curry, and cauliflower cheese.
- Thick, smooth soups such as vegetable, cream of chicken, tomato, and lentil.
- Pureed pasta or rice with tomato or cheese sauce.
- Try serving these meals alongside mashed potato with cream or butter.
- Smooth, thick yoghurt, fromage frais, instant whip or mousses.
- Rice pudding, semolina, or custard.
- Stewed, pureed fruits with custard or cream.
- Crème caramel, jelly and ice cream, blancmange, or fruit fools.
Soft Food Diet
At this point in your recovery, eating should be more comfortable, and you will be able to open and close your mouth more freely, meaning that softer foods can start to be introduced. Try starting with foods that can be chopped small or mashed with a fork and can have sauces and liquids added to them to make them more palatable.
- Porridge with full-fat milk.
- Scrambled, boiled, or poached egg with soft, crustless bread.
- Wheat biscuits, puffed rice or corn cereals soaked in milk.
- Mashed banana or tinned fruit with full-fat yoghurt.
- Omelette with grated cheese.
- Soup with soft, crustless bread and butter.
- The inside of a jacket potato with tuna mayo, cheese, or tinned spaghetti.
- Pasta in sauce.
- Soft bread sandwiches with crusts removed such as tuna mayo, soft cheese, pate, egg mayo or hummus.
- Casseroles with soft, slow-cooked meats in sauce such as cottage pie, curry, or boneless fish in sauce.
It is completely normal to feel your appetite is reduced after surgery, and the thought of bigger meals may not be appealing, in this case, we recommend eating 2 or 3 nourishing snacks in between smaller meals. If you have a sweet tooth, try rice puddings, jelly, full-fat yoghurt with soft fruit with cream or custard, and soft cake or gateaux. Nourishing savoury snacks could include soft, spreadable cheese such as brie or camembert on soft, crustless bread, dips such as hummus and guacamole or soups with cheese.
Maintaining Oral Hygiene Throughout Recovery
It is vital to ensure that you are maintaining good oral hygiene throughout your recovery. After meals, gently rinse your mouth with warm water to dislodge any food particles that become stuck in your braces and brush gently in the morning, after meals and before going to bed with fluoride toothpaste. Consider using a smaller toothbrush and follow any advice given to you after your surgery.
Seeking Jaw Surgery in Manchester? Northenden House Orthodontics Can Help
If you would like any further advice on jaw surgery procedures or aftercare, then our specialists here at Northenden House Orthodontics will be only too happy to help. Orthognathic surgery in Manchester requires complex interdisciplinary care, that’s why we ensure close liaison between our trained and experienced clinicians.
If you are seeking jaw surgery in Manchester, call our friendly, passionate, and enthusiastic team of professionals today for a consultation.
- Mohammad Malik