Preparation for surgery and nutrition

For patients undergoing even the most minor surgery, following the simple suggestions below until you are fully healed will help you to prepare for the day of your surgery and also allow the best healing afterwards.

 The week before 

  •  If you are a smoker, STOP. This single action will dramatically improve the outcome of any surgery and improve success rates significantly. (If you are not a smoker, please do not start!). Please also avoid alcohol and recreational drugs for three days before surgery.
  • Eat healthily and adequately and start taking proprietary one a day multivitamins and iron supplements to insure that you are not deficient in any of the vitamins or minerals required for good healing.
  • Keep your lips supple by applying lip balm or Vaseline on a daily basis. Your lips can be stretched somewhat during surgical procedures and the better moisturised they are more comfortable they will be afterwards.
  • If you are prone to suffer from cold sores, any anticipated stress before surgery or the actual surgery itself can trigger cold sores. Zovirax (acyclovir) ointment 12 hourly for 48 hours before and after your surgery may help reduce the incidence of cold sores. If you have an active cold sore on the day of surgery, we may need to postpone the procedure to reduce the risk spread of the virus through water aerosol, which can cause serious viral eye infections in patients and surgery staff alike.
  • Arrange a dental hygiene appointment 1-3 days before the surgery. It will ensure that your mouth is as clean and plaque-free as possible and that your gums are as healthy as possible prior to surgery. Starting to use Corsodyl mouthwash twice a day at this time will ensure that the bacteria levels in your mouth remain as low as possible at surgery.
  • Ensure you get enough rest and sleep.
  • Shop for any food that you are likely to need after surgery, as recommended below, so that you have about a week's supply.
  • Arrange for someone to pick you up from the practice after surgery and remain with you for at least 24 hours. If you are responsible for any young children or pets, it may be prudent to also ask someone to look after them for a day or two.
 The day of surgery
  • Have a light, healthy breakfast unless you are having sedation in which case our anaesthetist will normally recommend that you do not eat for six hours before your appointment.
  • Do not apply any lip balm, Vaseline, lipstick or nail varnish and remove any facial jewellery (earrings, piercings etc)
  • If you have a moustache or beard, I would recommend shaving it off to reduce the potential for contamination of the surgery site during surgery.
  • Brush and floss your teeth as normal. If we have given you antibiotics to start taking before your surgery, please take them one hour before your appointment.
  • Plan to arrive at the surgery in plenty of time. If you are unavoidably late, do not get stressed since we normally book more time for your procedure than we actually need. However please let us know if you can as soon as possible.

After surgery - post-operative care and nutrition

We will give you detailed post-operative instructions on a separate sheet depending on the procedure that you are having. The mouth is remarkably good at healing itself if looked after and serious complications are uncommon. However delayed healing or infection can compromise the work that has been done and the final result.

After oral surgery, your body needs good nutrition for healing. If you are unable to eat enough of the right food you may lose weight and not heal as quickly. Some patients look forward to weight loss as a post-surgery “bonus” but this is the wrong time to diet. Your body demands calories and protein for healing. You need enough nourishment to recover quickly and to avoid unnecessary problems, such as delayed healing, higher risk of infection and tiredness.

Good nutrition is so important after surgery in the mouth – just when eating can present a short-term problem. Chewing can be difficult and uncomfortable when you are recovering from extractions or other oral surgery.

Concentrate on soft foods such as:

  • Creamy soups and broth
  • Pasta
  • Omelettes
  • Fish (de-boned)
  • Beans
  • Milky puddings
  • Mousses, crème caramel, yoghurt, fromage frais
  • Ice-cream
  • Porridge






  Try to avoid food with a variable hard/soft consistency such as:

  • nutty cereals,
  • popcorn,
  • hard centred chocolate
  • salty or spicy foods,
  • acidic fruits and juices (especially citrus),
  • coarse and dry foods such as crisps, toast and dry biscuits
  • alcohol, especially spirits which may also interact with antibiotic medication.


Vitamins, Natural Remedies and Nutritional Drinks

Because antibiotics and analgesics compromise the body of vitamins and minerals, a multi-vitamin/mineral supplements with iron can be especially helpful. Vitamins and dietary supplements should be taken with meals for optimum absorption.

Arnica has been subjectively reported to help minimize post-operative swelling and bruising. Whilst the medical literature is equivocal about the effects of arnica, taking it before and for a week or so after any surgical procedure appears to make a significant subjective difference to many of our patients. However, there is also some evidence to suggest that they may increase the risk of bleeding during and immediately after operations.

There are now many nutritional drinks available to help when eating is difficult. To protect your health at this critical time nutritional experts have developed medical nutritional meal replacements. If your surgery is likely to limit your eating for more than a few days, we will recommend or provide a suitable nutritional drink for you after your procedure.


(This information sheet contains general information and must be read in conjunction with your personalised treatment plan, which gives specific advice).       LCIAD Ltd, 2011

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