Wisdom teeth -- also called third molars, are located at the back of the mouth. There are four wisdom teeth: one located at the top and bottom on each side. Unlike other teeth, wisdom teeth begin to grow in late teenage years or early adult years. While growing, the gums in that area will split to make room for the teeth to grow. The area near and around the wisdom teeth can become sore and swollen. To prevent further inflammation and infection, a dentist may suggest removing the wisdom teeth. Removal requires the administration of anesthesia, and the gums may be stitched together to facilitate healing. Treatment includes oral hygiene and general diet guidelines. However, you should follow the specific diet instructions given by your surgeon.
After having wisdom teeth removed, it is essential to avoid certain foods to prevent tissue damage and possible infection at the surgical site. Soft, bland foods are generally recommended after the surgery.
Patients should follow the recommended diet for a minimum of two to three days while the gums are forming blood clots. The development of this blood clot is critical to the recovery process because it protects the site and prevents potential irreversible nerve damage, also known as a dry socket. Although the first few days are critical, some dentists direct patients to follow a specific diet for a longer period of time.
Diet after wisdom teeth removal is geared toward creating a neutral environment in the mouth and meeting nutritional needs. Patients should drink ample water, particularly during the first 24 hours, to provide increased hydration. Patients should avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, carbonated or hot beverages. In addition, it is critical to avoid drinking through straws. Doing so can introduce undue pressure on the surgical site.
Neutral, cold foods are best in the first 24 hours after surgery. Yogurt, ice cream, applesauce or Popsicles made from real fruit are good options. These foods provide some nutritional value and the cool temperatures help soothe inflamed gums or tissue. When a patient feels comfortable, he can introduce semisolid foods into his diet. Pudding, gelatin and soup are common choices. However, a patient should be sure that soup is warm, not hot.
Patients must avoid foods that require significant chewing as well as hot, spicy or hard foods. Food that becomes stuck in the surgical site can inhibit healing and cause infection. Although rare, eating hard foods too early can lead to fracture of your jaw bone.