After having a tooth extracted, your surgeon will provide aftercare guidelines so you know how to take care of yourself and reduce the risk of post-operative complications. These recommendations will include how to eat and drink in the days after your surgery. Most often, diet guidelines after tooth extraction allow liquids and very soft foods the same day as your surgery, with a transition to your usual diet, some exceptions, within several days.
How soon you can start eating or drinking after your tooth extraction can depend on extent of your surgery. Your surgeon can provide you with specific guidelines. Most recommendations allow starting liquids within a few hours of the surgery, along with soft foods that require little if any chewing -- such as ice cream or pudding. The use of a straw should be avoided when drinking liquids, since the suction this creates can dislodge the blood clot that covers your wound. This can lead to more pain and bleeding, and will delay healing. It's also important to avoid hot liquids in the initial days after surgery, as the heat also loosen the clot, and can also increase blood flow and bleeding from your wound.
Day Two and Three
By the day after your surgery, liquids and soft foods can be continued, and you should also be able to incorporate more types of foods -- as long as you avoid chewing on the surgery side. Keep foods soft, so less chewing is needed and less food particles stay in the mouth. Your surgeon may also recommend the avoidance of alcohol for at least the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery, as alcohol may interact with your post-op medications and delay wound healing.
The First Few Weeks
For 1 to 2 weeks after your surgery, you will be advised to avoid chewing food on the extraction site, to avoid disruption to the healing process. During this time, you can transition back to most of your usual foods. However, spicy or acidic foods should be avoided until your site is fully healed, so the extraction site isn't irritated. Also avoid crunchy and sticky foods, which can dislodge the clot if chewed near the extraction site.
After eating, you will want to keep the area clean, but follow your surgeon's guidelines regarding brushing, flossing and rinsing -- and when you can resume your usual dental care. See your dentist if you experience signs of an infection, such as a fever, swelling or pain that is getting worse, pus draining from the surgery site or bleeding that persists or doesn't respond to pressure. If you are having difficulties breathing, seek emergency care.
Reviewed by Kay Peck, MPH RD