Having your wisdom teeth removed is a serious procedure that can take up to six weeks to fully heal, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS). During that time, you'll need to be careful about the foods you eat, so you don't disrupt the healing process.
Video of the Day
To make your life easier, we've talked to Henry Ferguson, DMD, the program director of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and associate professor at the Dental College of Georgia, who offers the following timeline on the best foods to eat after wisdom teeth removal.
Immediately After Surgery
Your oral surgeon will give you a full list of care guidelines after your surgery. Generally, after being sedated, you'll leave the office still numb, with a gauze pack in your mouth to help stop any remaining bleeding, and the biggest question on your mind will probably be: When can I eat?
Within the first six hours after surgery, Dr. Ferguson recommends only having liquids. Remaining hydrated is key, so water and juices are great choices, according to The Oral Surgery Center.
Dr. Ferguson also suggests blending some of your favorite foods that are high in nutrients at meal times. Pudding, gelatin and soups can be consumed during this time frame as well.
Additional suggestions from the AAOMS are:
- Ice cream
"The day of, you should be really careful not to do too much eating," Dr. Ferguson says. Consistent chewing can be painful for your extraction sites, according to the AAOMS, so it's much better to drink your meals or eat foods that don't require chewing.
While drinking, you should avoid using straws, Dr. Ferguson says, because they can irritate your gums as they are healing and cause dry socket. Dry socket is when a blood clot dissolves before healing or does not form over your extraction site, according to the Mayo Clinic. Though dry socket rarely results in severe complications, the Mayo Clinic notes that it can cause an infection or delay healing in some cases.
The Day After Surgery
"The first day [after surgery] you should eat really soft foods," Dr. Ferguson says, "Everyone is different, so it's really based on the patient's discretion. If you're eating something that's soft and it's uncomfortable, then eat something that's even softer."
For the day after tooth-extraction surgery, some foods to consider are:
- Scrambled eggs
- Mashed potatoes
- Ice cream
Dr. Ferguson believes the first three to five days are a crucial time period as you are recovering from surgery. Infections usually occur at this stage for patients who experience complications after having wisdom teeth extracted. If you are experiencing discomfort or abnormal symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.
1 to 2 Weeks After Surgery
Throughout the first and second week, Dr. Ferguson says to add semi-solid foods into your diet. He and the AAOMS recommend the following:
- Soft vegetables
- Ground beef
- Finely cut pieces of chicken and fish
- Soft pastas
3 to 4 Weeks After Surgery
"After three weeks, your soft tissue should be healed reasonably enough to where it can withstand some light attempts to eat," Dr. Ferguson says, "and your ability to chew some substantial foods should be better."
By the third week after wisdom teeth removal, many people are able to eat solid foods, according to Dr. Ferguson. He notes that it depends on the person's comfort level because everyone's healing process is different.
At the four-week mark, you should be able to return to your regular diet, Dr. Ferguson tells LIVESTRONG.com. If it is still painful to eat certain foods at this point, you should consider calling your doctor.
Foods to Avoid
Now that you have a list of foods to enjoy while healing after having your wisdom teeth removed, it's also important to know what foods to stay away from.
During the first few days, Dr. Ferguson encourages you to avoid foods with certain temperatures. "Drinking real extremes of hot or cold can be traumatic to the recent extraction sites," he says, "I don't recommend [drinking] really hot or really cold [liquids] for several days."
In addition, some foods to avoid for the first four weeks are:
"Bits of the socket may be exposed, and those kinds of foods make particles," Dr. Ferguson says, "They have a tendency to get into the surgical sites, which are trying to heal, and take the space of the blood clots and healing tissue that need to be there."
The AAOMS also warns against adding these foods to your diet while your gums are healing:
- Acidic fruits like oranges and tomatoes
- Carbonated drinks, including sodas and sparkling waters
- Difficult-to-chew candies like taffy
- Spicy foods
5 Other Ways to Encourage Healing After Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Although having the right foods to eat after wisdom teeth removal can do a lot to help your recovery, there are some other things you can do to make the healing process easier.
"Home care and hygiene need to be maintained," Dr. Ferguson says. Here are suggestions from the AAOMS and other sources on ways to help your surgery sites heal:
- Brush gently twice daily.
- Rinse regularly. "You can use a syringe to rinse out the extraction sites and prevent food and debris from accumulating in the sockets," Dr. Ferguson says. He suggests loading the syringe with antibacterial mouthwash mixed with warm water. You could also use warm salt water. No rinsing should be done until 24 hours after surgery, according to the Associates for Oral, Maxillofacial & Implants Surgery. Gently rinsing at least five to six times a day, especially after eating, is highly recommended.
- Reduce swelling. Try icing your face on and off in 15-minute intervals during the first week, to help relieve some of your discomfort, per the Foothill Center for Dental Implants & Oral Surgery. Your doctor might also tell you to sleep with your head elevated for a few days after surgery to help reduce swelling.
- Take all prescriptions as prescribed.
- Do not smoke.
Is This an Emergency?
- American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons: "Wisdom Teeth FAQ"
- The Oral Surgery Center: "After Wisdom Teeth Removal"
- American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons: "What to Eat After Wisdom Teeth Removal"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dry Socket - Symptoms and Causes"
- American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons: "How Long Does it Take to Heal Following Wisdom Teeth Removal?"
- Associates for Oral, Maxillofacial & Implants Surgery, LTD: "Surgical Instructions After Wisdom Teeth Removal"
- Foothill Center for Dental Implants & Oral Surgery: "Diet Tips After Wisdom Teeth Extraction"
- Clark Holmes Smith Oral Facial Surgery: "After Wisdom Teeth Removal"