What To Eat After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

Essential Foods for Faster Healing

February 22, 2024 Written By: Joyce Kahng, DDS

Wisdom teeth removal is a common rite of passage. These often troublesome molars sometimes erupt with no issue, but frequently become problematic through impaction or crowding. As this is the case, their removal may be important to your long-term dental health.

It’s important to keep in mind that, in the immediate aftermath of surgery, what you eat becomes surprisingly crucial. The right food choices promote rapid healing and reduce your discomfort, while the wrong ones can set you back with complications.

Below is more about why you should eat soft foods after a wisdom tooth removal procedure, what specific foods you should eat, and what kinds of foods you should avoid.

Why a Soft Diet is Essential

After wisdom teeth removal, your mouth requires gentle treatment for several reasons. Firstly, stitches are often used to close the surgical sites where the teeth were extracted. Chewing on anything hard or crunchy puts unnecessary pressure on these delicate stitches. This can lead to them tearing open, which not only prolongs bleeding but increases your risk of infection.

Secondly, blood clots play a vital role in the healing process. Your body forms these clots to protect the exposed bone and tissues in the extraction sites. Disturbing these clots with hard or textured foods creates painful complications like “dry socket.” This condition significantly slows down the healing process and leaves you more vulnerable to infection.

Finally, even without disturbing sutures or blood clots, hard or overly textured foods can become lodged in the extraction sites. Trapped food particles become breeding grounds for bacteria, increasing discomfort and risk of infection. Sticking to a soft-food diet minimizes these risks, allowing your mouth to heal safely and comfortably—accelerating your return to a normal diet.

The Timeline: What to Eat and When

Your diet plan after wisdom teeth removal should follow a gentle progression toward normalcy. Understanding what to eat during each stage of recovery streamlines the process and minimizes discomfort.

Day 1: Purely Liquid

During the first 24 hours, sticking to a fully liquid diet is crucial. Your mouth will be sore, and chewing will be difficult. Focus on cool or lukewarm options like:

  • Clear broths and strained soups (avoid chunky varieties)
  • Smoothies (skip berries/seeds that can get stuck)
  • Yogurt drinks or kefir
  • Pudding and gelatin (sugar-free options are preferable)

Days 2-3: Soft and Mushy

As swelling and tenderness begin to subside, you can graduate to soft, mashable foods. Choose items that require minimal chewing, such as:

  • Mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • Mashed bananas or avocados
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Plain yogurt
  • Applesauce (unsweetened varieties are best)

Gradual Progression

Once you experience less pain, it’s safe to introduce foods with slightly more texture. Well-cooked pasta, soft rice, and steamed vegetables are good options. It’s essential to listen to your body during this phase. If a particular food causes increased swelling or discomfort, go back to softer options for a day or two before trying again.

Important: No matter what stage you’re in, avoid excessively hot foods and drinks. Warm is fine, but hot temperatures can irritate the surgical sites and delay healing.

Essential Foods for Faster Healing

While focusing on texture is vital after wisdom teeth removal, making good nutritional choices goes a long way in speeding up your recovery. Your body is working hard to mend itself, and it needs the right fuel:

  • Protein Powder: Protein shakes or smoothies with added protein powder provide a valuable energy boost and building blocks for healing tissues. Look for options that are low in sugar.
  • Soothing Soups: Easy to swallow and packed with nutrients, broth-based soups help you stay hydrated and fight inflammation. Consider adding soft pre-cooked lentils or pureeing a favorite vegetable soup for maximum benefit.
  • Ice Cream: Ice cream, in moderation, is more than just a treat. The coldness has a numbing effect on sore gums and eases inflammation. Stick to varieties lower in sugar, as too much might hinder long-term recovery.
  • Yogurt: Packed with protein and a source of probiotics, yogurt helps manage harmful bacteria in the mouth, improving your oral environment and potentially contributing to faster healing.

Foods to Avoid

Just as certain foods promote healing, others are major red flags during your recovery from wisdom teeth removal. To minimize complications and discomfort, strictly avoid:

  • Hard/Crunchy: Items like chips, pretzels, popcorn, nuts, and seeds are your mouth’s enemy. They can easily crack, leaving sharp fragments that lodge in extraction sites.
  • Sticky/Chewy: Candies, gummies, chewy granola bars…anything sticky will cling to surgical areas and is tough to remove—increasing infection risk.
  • Acidic: Tomatoes, citrus fruits, and overly acidic dressings irritate sensitive gum tissue and cause stinging.
  • Spicy: Similar to acidic foods, hot peppers and strong spices increase pain and inflammation, setting back your recovery.
  • Alcohol and Soda: Both alcohol and sugary soda impact the healing process and should be avoided during the initial post-operative period.

Additional Tips and Reminders

  • Hydration is Key: Dehydration makes pain and discomfort worse. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout your recovery.
  • Gentle Saltwater Rinses: Starting the day after your surgery, gentle saltwater rinses promote healing. Combine a teaspoon of salt with a cup of warm water and swish very carefully, ensuring it does not dislodge any clots.
  • Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain relievers (as recommended by your surgeon) will be important allies in the early stages.
  • Follow Your Surgeon’s Instructions: Every individual’s recovery is slightly different. Your oral surgeon will have specific recommendations based on your case.

The Path to a Pain-Free Smile

The first few days after wisdom teeth removal might be uncomfortable, but it’s temporary! A strategic approach to eating ensures you bounce back quickly. Choosing the right foods helps you keep up the nutrients your body needs to heal properly. Following these guidelines gives your mouth a well-deserved break and sets you on course for a speedy recovery. Soon, you’ll be back to enjoying all your favorite snacks without hesitation.

Smile Smarter,
Dr. Joyce

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