Getting plenty of vitamin C is one way oral surgery patients can ensure timely recovery. Patients who neglect nutrition might be tacking extra days onto their recovery time, reports the Academy of General Dentistry.
Vitamin C is particularly important to the healing process since deficiencies of the vitamin have been shown to significantly slow the healing process. Ludi Leibson, DDS, Academy of General Dentistry spokesman, says he sometimes gives oral surgery patients high doses of vitamin C and multi-vitamin supplements before surgery.
A patient’s diet is crucial since adequate and appropriate vitamins, minerals, fats and protein are essential for the growth and regeneration of normal tissues.
“You’re going to delay the healing process and increase the possibility of infection if you’re not getting the proper nutrients,” says Dr. Leibson.
Nutrients function individually as well as cooperatively in the healing process. The energy needed for tissue maintenance and repair is supplied by carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Adequate amounts of carbohydrates and fat must be available for the energy to preserve protein for the cellular growth and for the protein development needed for optimal healing. Along with vitamin C, vitamins A, E, B, K and D are all integral to the healing process and recovery time. For example, vitamin A significantly contributes to healing by reducing the inflammatory period of tissue repair.
Low nutritional status is commonly caused by poor diet, digestive problems, illness, and drug/nutrient interactions. Patients considered to be a nutritional risk could have any of the following symptoms: severely underweight (less than 80 percent of standard for height) or overweight (more than 120 percent of standard for height); recent loss of 10 percent or more of body weight; substance abuse, especially alcohol; presence of an acute or chronic disease; and taking drugs such as steroids, immunosuppressants and anti-tumor agents.
Dr. Leibson says he rarely sees patients who are malnourished, but that if someone is nutritionally compromised they should consider delaying oral surgery until they are no longer at risk.