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The do's and don'ts of eating and drinking after wisdom teeth removal

Navigate your diet after wisdom teeth removal. Get expert tips on what to eat and what to avoid for a smooth recovery.

Despite their name, wisdom teeth are not exactly known for their wisdom or their painless arrival. For many, wisdom teeth removal is a rite of passage, albeit an uncomfortable and often painful phase of development. For most, they eventually must get one or more surgically removed. But what comes next? How do you nourish yourself back to health after this common but critical oral surgery? There are healthy and delicious ways of eating after wisdom tooth removal surgery without compromising the healing process.

Illustration of impacted wisdom teeth: one tooth is growing at an angle beneath the gum line, pushing against adjacent teeth. A circle highlights the affected area.

Understanding wisdom teeth removal

Before we talk about food, it’s important to understand why wisdom teeth are removed in the first place. Located in the very back of your mouth, these third molars often don't have enough room to emerge properly, resulting in impaction, misalignment, tooth pain and potential oral health issues. If removal is necessary, it's usually done under local anesthesia or sedation, depending on the complexity of the case. The procedure itself is relatively quick, but the real healing begins afterward with the recovery phase. A substantial portion of the population undergoes wisdom teeth extraction, sometimes as a preventive measure even if they aren't yet causing problems. The procedure is performed about 5 million times annually in the United States alone.

A woman smiles while holding a spoonful of yogurt with berries. She is wearing a red top and beige button-up shirt and is about to eat from a glass jar filled with yogurt and fruit.

The importance of diet after surgery

Your diet post-wisdom teeth surgery plays an important role in how quickly you heal and whether complications arise. The first few days are usually the hardest and are very important for proper wound healing. Your food and drink choices can aid or hinder this healing process post-surgery. The objective is to consume foods that are gentle on your mouth yet packed with the nutrients that your body needs for recovery.

Consequences of neglecting diet after surgery

Infections are not uncommon after wisdom teeth removal, but they can be largely avoided through proper post-operative care, which includes diet and nutrition. Avoiding carbonated drinks, alcohol and hard foods can prevent additional soreness, dry sockets, bleeding and other possible complications. Foods that are difficult to chew, sticky, sugary or acidic can all pose serious problems during the early stages of healing. It's important to be mindful of not only what you eat but also what you drink, as consuming alcohol and very hot or cold drinks can disrupt the clot formation that’s vital for healing after wisdom teeth removal.

When can I eat solid food after tooth extraction?

It's important to stick to a soft or liquid diet for the first few days after tooth extraction. This allows your mouth to heal and reduces the risks of infection. Your doctor will provide specific instructions on what to eat and drink following your procedure. These must be adhered to strictly to ensure a speedy and successful recovery.

Initially, focus on incorporating soft, easy-to-eat items into your meals to avoid any chewing that might disturb the extraction sites. Your mouth may be tender in the beginning. Soft, easy-to-eat foods take the stress off your healing gums and make sure you get the nutrition you need without any pain.

Approved foods to eat after teeth removal

While your doctor will give you the best advice and instruction for post-surgery foods to eat, there are some basic instructions to understand.

Initially, focus on incorporating soft, easy-to-eat items into your meals to avoid any chewing that might disturb the extraction sites. Your mouth may be tender in the beginning. Soft, easy-to-eat foods take the stress off your healing gums and make sure you get the nutrition you need without any pain.

Collage of foods to eat after wisdom teeth removal. A bowl of applesauce, a popsicle, blueberries, an avocado, and an herb omelette on a plate with a fork.

Nutritious foods for wisdom tooth extraction healing

Your diet should consist of foods rich in vitamins and minerals for the healing process while also being soft enough to eat. Hard foods will delay the healing process and may even cause further complications. We’ll explore soft foods and post-surgery meal planning you can incorporate into your wisdom teeth recovery.

50 soft foods to eat after tooth extraction

  1. Applesauce

  2. Avocado (plain and mashed)

  3. Baked potatoes

  4. Bananas

  5. Beans

  6. Blueberries

  7. Broccoli (pureed)

  8. Butternut squash soup

  9. Carrots (cooked and mashed)

  10. Chicken or vegetable broth

  11. Cottage cheese

  12. Cream of wheat

  13. Custards

  14. Eggs (scrambled)

  15. Fish filets (boneless)

  16. Frozen yogurt

  17. Greek yogurt

  18. Hummus

  19. Ice cream (without seeds or nuts)

  20. Jello

  21. Kiwi

  22. Lentils

  23. Macaroni and cheese

  24. Mango

  25. Mashed avocado on soft toast

  26. Mashed cauliflower

  27. Mashed potatoes

  28. Noodles or pasta (cooked soft)

  29. Nut milks

  30. Oatmeal

  31. Pancakes

  32. Peaches

  33. Pears (ripe and soft)

  34. Popsicles

  35. Protein shakes

  36. Puddings

  37. Ramen noodles

  38. Risotto

  39. Salmon (cooked and flaked)

  40. Silken tofu

  41. Smoothies

  42. Soft butter rolls

  43. Soups

  44. Spinach (pureed)

  45. Sweet potatoes (mashed)

  46. Tapioca pudding

  47. Soft-cooked eggs

  48. Sorbet

  49. Yogurt parfait

  50. Zucchini (cooked and mashed)

Other preparation and food tips

Make sure to blend or cook everything well to avoid lumps that might irritate the surgical site. Furthermore, slightly chilling or warming your foods can help soothe the area. It’s important to make sure your food is not too hot or too cold, as this could agitate the wounds while they heal.

Infographic titled "Foods to avoid" featuring icons and text for acidic drinks, hard/sticky candies, and crunchy snacks.

What not to eat after a tooth extraction

While you’ll be eager to resume a 'normal' diet, be patient. There are some things that can be problematic, to say the least.

Foods that are hard to chew or require a lot of mouth movement can cause the clot to dislodge, leading to dry sockets. Similarly, certain foods can irritate the surgical wounds or cause inflammation, hindering the healing process. We'll focus on staples that are gentle on your mouth and promote healing.

There are some foods you should avoid at all costs, at least in the first few weeks following your surgery. These include anything hard, chewy, or that could leave particles behind to irritate the wound. Here's a quick list to be mindful of:

  • Crunchy or hard foods that could potentially lodge in the extraction site. 

  • Sticky foods like caramel can pull at the incision and dislodge blood clots. 

  • Spicy or acidic foods that can cause discomfort or inflammation. 
    Extremely hot or cold foods that may lead to sensitivity issues. 

It’s also recommended to avoid sipping through a straw, smoking, and forcefully spitting, as these can delay healing and possibly cause dry sockets.

Can you drink alcohol after wisdom teeth removal?

It’s best to avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages. They can interfere with the healing process and might not be compatible with pain medications. The simple answer is that it's best to steer clear of alcohol and caffeinated beverages in the beginning of your healing stages. Both alcohol and caffeine can negatively affect the body's ability to heal. Alcohol can dilate blood vessels, which might lead to increased bleeding, and interfere with the effectiveness of prescribed pain medications. Also, the combination of alcohol with certain pain relievers can be dangerous, potentially leading to adverse reactions.

Caffeinated beverages, on the other hand, can contribute to dehydration, further complicating the healing process. To ensure a smooth and swift recovery, it's advisable to follow your healthcare provider's recommendations closely, including dietary restrictions.

Recommended hydrating drinks

Drinking fluids like water, teas and electrolyte-rich beverages will not only keep you hydrated but also support your body's natural functions during recovery. Drinking plenty of water helps flush out toxins from your body and keeps your mouth clean, aiding in the healing process.

A sample meal plan for the first week

Alright, so we know now what foods are safe to eat after wisdom teeth removal. Let’s explore a day in the life could look like after your surgery and recovery. 

Here's a peek into how your plate might look for the initial days of recovery. This can all be adjusted according to your dietary needs and what your doctor has suggested.

Foods you can eat 24 hours after a tooth extraction 

A protein-packed smoothie with yogurt and a ripe banana or other fruit, mashed up to avoid chunks. 

A comforting, soft broth-based soup with added pureed veggies. Make sure the broth is not too hot.

Mashed potatoes with a light gravy for added flavor and pureed vegetables for essential nutrients.

Foods you can eat 2 to 3 days after removing a tooth 

Well cooked oatmeal topped with mashed bananas.

A soft vegetable soup and a small serving of scrambled eggs for variety and protein. 

Pasta with a light, non-chunky sauce. Avoid anything spicy or heavily seasoned.

A smiling healthcare professional in a white coat with "Aspen Dental" logo visible on the pocket, stands and smiles at another person partially visible in the image.

Consulting with Aspen Dental professionals

Always remember to consult with your Aspen Dental professional for personalized advice. Every recovery story is unique and your diet should be tailored to your recovery needs. Their guidelines aren’t just about following rules for the sake of it. The motivation behind these dietary guidelines is your long-term recovery and healing. Make sure to talk with your doctor before you start any diet.

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