What to Eat After Wisdom Teeth Removal
Extraction of the third molars, or wisdom teeth, is common but still serious business. Jaw soreness and discomfort can make it difficult to return to a normal diet right away, leaving many patients wondering what to eat after wisdom teeth extraction.
Knowing which foods to eat and which ones you should avoid can help with healing and prevent complications.
Wake Up Call: When to Eat After Wisdom Teeth Removal
When to eat may be just as important as what to eat after wisdom teeth extraction. “Patients shouldn’t eat or drink at all until they’ve fully recovered from anesthesia, and that includes both IV sedation and local anesthesia,” says Vincent B. Ziccardi, DDS, MD, Professor and Chair, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
Patients who receive local anesthesia (shots to numb the area around the tooth) should wait until sensation returns before eating to avoid biting the lips or tongue. Once the tingling stops and the heaviness is gone it’s fine to start a soft diet.
IV sedation is frequently used to relax patients and prevent them from feeling pain during wisdom tooth extraction. It also provides an amnesic effect to erase any memory of the procedure. If you are given sedation you won’t be discharged until you’re fully awake, able to walk and not vomiting.
The Menu: What to Eat After Wisdom Teeth Extraction
“After sedation, patients should start with a full liquid diet and work up,” advises Dr. Ziccardi.
It’s a good idea for all patients to drink plenty of fluids following wisdom teeth removal. Water is the best way to stay hydrated both before and after increasing your diet. Once you’re able to tolerate liquids, you can advance to more solid foods.
Remember to stick with foods that don’t require a lot of chewing for the first few days, since your jaws may be sore and difficult to open, especially if you’ve had teeth removed on both sides, Ziccardi says.
Grind or puree foods or choose soft foods that are easy to eat, including:
- Baby foods
After a few days, you can gradually increase your diet. Start slowly and add foods as tolerated until you’re back to your regular eating plan.
Foods to Avoid After Wisdom Teeth Removal
In addition to learning what to eat after wisdom teeth extraction, it’s important to temporarily scratch some food choices off the menu. “Avoid small foods like popcorn or peanuts that can get caught,” says Ziccardi.
Other foods and beverages to avoid:
- Hard foods
- Chewy foods
- Sunflower seeds
It’s not advisable to use drinking straws during the first 24 hours following wisdom tooth extraction. “Using a straw could break down the blood clot,” says Ziccardi. “If a maxillary molar was removed, it could also have a communication with the sinus.” An opening between the oral cavity and the maxillary sinus could lead to infection if liquid is sucked through the straw into the sinus.
Oral Care and Wisdom Tooth Infection
To prevent bleeding, your dentist will probably advise you not to brush during the first 24 hours following wisdom tooth extraction. It’s also important to avoid blowing your nose, sneezing or excessive spitting since the increased pressure can cause the blood clot to dislodge.
Good oral hygiene is important in preventing infection. Rinsing with salt water after eating can keep the mouth clean and wash away any food particles or debris that may have settled in the wound.
Recovery After Wisdom Tooth Extraction
In most cases, patients can return to normal activity and their usual diet within a few days following wisdom tooth extraction.