After the removal of a wisdom tooth, a person may find it beneficial to eat soft foods because they do not require chewing. People should aim to avoid hard foods.
Wisdom teeth are the last molars to emerge. They usually appear when a person reaches their late teenage years or early 20s.
This article looks at some foods that people should eat and avoid after a wisdom tooth extraction. It also explains the complications of the procedure and provides some information on recovery and self-care.
According to the National Health Service (NHS), people should try to eat soft or liquid foods for a few days after surgery.
Some foods that may be suitable include:
- pureed seedless fruit
- soups and broths that are not too hot
- milkshakes and smoothies
- mashed banana
- mashed beans, such as kidney beans, black beans, or butter beans
- mashed sweet or regular potatoes
- pureed or mashed vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, or broccoli
- scrambled eggs
- soft cheeses
- ice cream and frozen yogurt
Mashing vegetables removes the need for chewing them. The texture and substance may be welcome after a diet of liquid foods.
If a blender is accessible, a person can make smoothies and milkshakes that contain a variety of fruits and vegetables at home. These can help provide nutrients and vitamins, which are especially important in the early stages of recovery, as they can help with wound healing.
However, people should try to avoid fruits with small seeds, as the seeds may get stuck in the wound.
A person may also wish to avoid using fruit juices in their milkshakes or smoothies. According to a
Some firmer foods that may be suitable to eat include fish, pasta, and potatoes.
Consuming the following foods and beverages can be harmful when healing from wisdom tooth removal:
- hot or fizzy drinks
- fruit juices, as acidic substances may irritate the removal site or cause discomfort
- seeds, peppercorns, and other spices with course remnants, which can get stuck in the wound
- spicy foods
- hard or sharp foods, such as chips and popcorn
People should avoid using straws or drinking hot beverages, as the suction can dislodge the blood clot, leading to dry socket. Dry socket is a condition that causes an ache or an intense, throbbing pain in the jaw or gum.
If a person wants a hot beverage, they
Recovery times vary from person to person, as does the ability to eat afterward.
Immediately after removal and for the next few days, people should try to eat liquid and soft foods. An individual’s healing and comfort will determine when they can eat more solid foods.
People may receive specific instructions and antibiotics in addition to anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medications.
The dentist or surgeon may also recommend an antiseptic mouthwash that a person can regularly use, beginning 24 hours after the surgery.
To help with recovery, people should try to:
- Take time off work: The amount of time that someone should take off work depends on the severity of the surgery and whether or not they received a general anesthetic. The NHS recommends taking 1–2 days off work.
- Take pain relief medication: People often take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief following wisdom tooth removal. According to Cochrane Clinical Answers, research suggests that ibuprofen might be more effective than acetaminophen after this procedure.
- Take anti-inflammatory drugs: After wisdom tooth removal, a dentist may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications. People should ensure that they take these medications exactly as the dentist instructs.
Using an ice pack may also help relieve pain and swelling.
As with any surgery, complications can follow the removal of a wisdom tooth. The sections below look at some of these in more detail.
Infection may occur after the surgery.
Symptoms of infection can include:
- yellow or white discharge
- high temperature
- worsening pain or swelling after
- bad breath
Antiseptic mouthwashes may help prevent infection.
When new bone is slower to grow in the empty socket, it is known as delayed healing.
Delayed healing does not necessarily require another trip to the dentist or surgeon. It may only mean that recovery takes longer.
Dry socket occurs when a blood clot does not develop in the empty tooth socket. It may also happen if a clot dislodges, which is a common complication in people who use straws for drinking.
Also, a person has a higher risk of developing dry socket if they:
- do not follow their dentist’s instructions after surgery
- are over 25 years of age
- have had a complicated removal
If dry socket occurs, a person should contact the dentist or surgeon who removed the tooth for a follow-up appointment.
Permanent numbing of the jaw
The wisdom teeth are close to nerves that can be injured during removal. An injury may lead to paresthesia, which refers to the numbing of the lower jaw, lip, and tongue.
The risk of permanent numbing is very low. However, a person may experience temporary numbing for several weeks or months, which can make eating and drinking difficult.
If the numbness lasts for longer than a few months, it is important to contact the dentist or surgeon.
It is important to make sure that people have enough food options after wisdom tooth removal.
A person may wish to consider stocking the home with a variety of liquids and soft foods before they have their wisdom tooth removed. This can help them stick to a soft food diet and aid recovery.
If no complications arise, the tooth socket should heal within approximately 2 weeks.
If complications do arise, the person should contact the doctor or dentist who performed the removal for a follow-up appointment.
After a person has undergone a wisdom tooth extraction, it is important to eat selectively to ensure that they do not choose foods that can affect healing or cause any further issues with their teeth.
Some foods to opt for include soft, healthy foods because these will not interfere with the wound and because the vitamins and minerals in healthy foods may also aid quicker healing.
Some foods to avoid include those that contain seeds or any small parts that may get into the wound left after a wisdom tooth extraction.