Post-operative naturopathic support for Oral surgery

Surgery on any part of the body creates massive vulnerability, but especially in the oral cavity, opening the skin provides opportunity for infection. There are various organisms which naturally live in the mouth, not to mention all the exogenous (meaning, from outside the body) substances placed there for consumption bring in more potential pathogens. The mouth and oral area heals quite quickly because of this risk, but there are strategies you can employ to reduce risk of infection and support healing.


Nutrition plays a significant role in recovery from surgery, more so if the one is part of an already compromised group (Giridhar, 2016). Oral and jaw surgery in particular, pose an increased nutritional threat as it interferes with the one's ability to eat normally post-surgery. Soups, smoothies and broths will be required until normal functions of the mouth or jaw can resume. Depending on the operation, the covering Doctor may provide oral antibiotics and/or an oral rinse to prevent infection from Staphylococcus aureus or streptococci (penicillin-sensitive) (Otero, Detriche & Mommaerts, 2017). This is good to note, as a naturopath can compliment the treatment with other antimicrobial herbals or support the body around this. 


The top 3 areas within nutrition that are important for post-operative care are: protein, immune supportive vitamins and minerals (to prevent infection), as well as vitamins and minerals which support tissue healing. Protein is required for cellular proliferation including immune cells, tissue repair and maintenance, in addition to energy. Giridhar (2016) suggests bone broth as an easily digestible protein source (specifically glutamine and arginine containing) that’s accessible for patients after oral surgery, though a protein powder drink may be used as an alternative. Vitamins which support the immune system and tissue healing include vitamin A, and C, in addition to the minerals zinc, selenium and magnesium (Giridhar, 2016; Palmieri, et al. 2019; Barchitta, et al. 2019). Vitamin A supports B and T cell function, antibody production, and aids in development of epithelial cells and fibroblast activity (Barchitta, et. al, 2019). B vitamins are also important in collagen synthesis. Vitamin C has many uses, but in this case it is used in wound healing by calling cells to the wound site, collagen synthesis in increasing stability and strength of the collagen matrix; as well as antioxidant activity (Barchitta, et. al, 2019). The mineral Zinc is highly involved in cell replication - especially in immune cells, activating lymphocytes, producing antibodies, collagen production and fibroblast production (Barchitta, et. al, 2019). Therefore, focussing on nutrient dense foods - fruits and vegetables (rainbow foods), and rich protein sources - which can be easily blended or minced (at least initially) will support the healing process. You may like to use the rainbow foods idea to help vary sources of vitamins and minerals. Focus on reds, purples, oranges and deep greens.


Slight side note: Barchitta, et. al (2019) also suggests the use of curcmin in improving wound healing via reducing excessive inflammation, facilitating collagen synthesis and fibroblast functions. 


Barchitta, M., Maugeri, A., Favara, G., Lio, R., Evola, G., Agodi, A. & Basile, G. (2019). Nutrition and Wound Healing: An Overview Focusing on the Beneficial Effects of Curcumin. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol 20. Issue 5. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6429075/

Giridhar, V. (2016). Role of nutrition in oral and maxillofacial surgery patients. National Journal of Macillofacial surgery, vol 7. Issue 1. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5242071/

Otero, J., Detriche, O. & Mommaerts, M. (2017). Fast-track Orthognathic Surgery: An Evidence-based Review. Annals of Maxillofacial Surgery, vol 7. Issue 2. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5717890/

Palmieri, B., Vadala, M. & Laurino, C. (2019). Nutrition in wound healing: investigation of the molecular mechanisms, a narrative review.  Journal of Wound Care, voll 28. Issue 10. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31600106/#:~:text=In%20the%20proliferative%20phase%2C%20vitamin,vera%20supports%20granulation%20tissue%20generation.

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