If you just had your wisdom teeth removed, your gums are no doubt swollen, sore and sensitive — and you should be aiming to take it easy on your mouth when it comes to eating. Here's the lowdown on what foods to avoid after wisdom teeth removal for a smooth recovery.
It can take a few weeks to heal from wisdom teeth extraction, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), which is why you'll want to eat soft foods and generally take it easy in the days following your procedure (including limiting exercise after wisdom tooth removal).
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Everybody's surgery and recovery is different, so always default to your doctor's personalized instructions when it comes to re-incorporating solid food into your post-surgery meals. In general, though, here's a potential timeline for your wisdom teeth removal diet, per the University of Washington School of Dentistry (UWSD):
- For the first two days after wisdom teeth extraction, you'll want to stick exclusively to a liquid diet and mushy foods.
- By day three, you can typically start eating soft foods that require just a little chewing.
- About a week after your procedure, you can likely return to normal eating.
To help you make a full recovery, here's what not to eat and drink after wisdom teeth removal.
If you have a fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit; pain that increases after three days and is not improved by medication; red, hard swelling; facial numbness; bleeding that won't stop or pus draining from the surgery site, call your doctor, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Love a kick of hot sauce in your dishes? Sorry, but in recovery mode, you'll want to skip spicy foods that can irritate the extraction site, according to the UWSD.
Some spicy foods to steer clear of during the first three or so days of your recovery include:
- Hot sauce
- Spicy peppers like chilis or jalapenos
- Spicy curries
Acidic Foods and Drinks
Similarly, it's best to avoid high-acid foods and drinks in the first few days following your surgery, as acid may aggravate discomfort, according to the UWSD.
Acidic foods to avoid after wisdom teeth removal include:
- Citrus fruits like lemon, lime and grapefruit
- Soda and other carbonated drinks
Foods You Can Eat After Wisdom Teeth Removal
You may be wondering what foods are OK to eat after your procedure — for instance, can you eat pancakes or oatmeal after wisdom teeth removal (spoiler: yes)?
Here are some softer, safer foods to eat after wisdom tooth removal:
- Liquids like juice and smoothies
- Scrambled eggs
- Mashed potatoes
- Ice cream
- Mashed bananas
Seeds and Nuts
Seeds and nuts are not the best post-wisdom teeth removal foods to eat. These hard, crunchy snacks can aggravate your gums and get in the way of the healing process, according to the AAOMS.
And yes, this even includes smaller, less-crunchy varieties, like chia seeds after wisdom teeth removal, along with breads that include seeds or nuts. That's because small food particles can lodge in your wisdom tooth socket and irritate the surgical site, per the Mayo Clinic.
Food debris can also contribute to a complication called dry socket, which is when the protective blood clot over the wisdom tooth socket becomes dislodged, painfully exposing your bone and nerves and increasing your risk for infection or delayed healing, according to the Mayo Clinic.
As a result, it's important to hold off on seeds and nuts until further along in the recovery process. Here's when can you eat seeds after wisdom teeth removal: According to the UWSD, you should wait about a week before resuming normal eating.
That said, every mouth may be different.
"I inform patients that there are typically no hard-and-fast rules everyone must follow," says Wilmington, Delaware-based board-certified oral surgeon Louis K. Rafetto, DMD, PA. "However, there are guidelines to avoid hard or crunchy foods in favor of foods that are soft, nourishing and taste good."
When Can You Eat Bread After Wisdom Teeth Removal?
You can eat soft bread about three days after wisdom teeth removal, per the UWSD. This guideline also includes other bready snacks that don't require much chewing — for example, you can eat pancakes after your tooth extraction.
That said, you'll need to avoid chewier, tougher or seed-filled breads for about a week. When in doubt, ask your doctor if a particular food is OK to eat during your recovery.
Other Crunchy Foods
Seeds and nuts aren't the only crunchy snack to beware of. According to the UWSD and AAOMS, some other crispy or crusty foods to avoid include:
- Pizza (think: crispy crust)
- Hamburgers (think: crunchy toppings)
And this list is by no means exhaustive. A general guideline is to avoid any food that requires forceful or excessive chewing, or any food that can break down into hard or sharp bits — the idea is to go as easy on your gums and teeth as possible for the first few days after surgery, per the AAOMS.
The American Dental Association lists soft-cooked rice as OK to eat after your tooth extraction, so you should check with your doctor about what’s best for you specifically.
If you have a sweet tooth, now is not the time to snack on chewy treats like taffy or caramel, according to the AAOMS.
These candies are tricky to chew, which can place unnecessary stress on your healing teeth and gums.
So if you're craving something sweet, instead reach for something soft like pudding or ice cream, both of which are among the better foods to eat for wisdom teeth removal recovery.
Most meats may also be off the table during the first few days or weeks of your recovery.
The AAOMS lists soft, finely cut fish and meat as OK to eat a few days after your procedure. However, tougher cuts like steak or jerky may require too much gnawing, which can irritate your gums and the extraction site.
Can You Eat Sushi After Wisdom Teeth Removal?
While sushi may not be super tough, other ingredients in your roll may not be suitable for your recovery. For instance, the AAOMS lists rice and other crunchy foods (like slices of carrots or cucumber) among the foods to avoid after wisdom teeth removal. As a result, sushi is not the best option for a post-surgery meal.
Here's when you can eat sushi after wisdom teeth removal: About a week after the procedure, according to the UWSD.
You should also say no to hot drinks for the first 24 hours, according to the National Health Service, as they may cause the blood clot to dislodge, which can put you at risk for dry socket.
This isn't to say you can't sip on broth or soup after wisdom teeth removal — just make sure the meal has cooled down to room temperature before you tuck in to, say, tomato soup after your tooth extraction.
And when it comes to any post-surgery fluid, it's important to avoid using straws for at least the first 24 hours after your procedure, Dr. Rafetto says. According to UWSD, sucking on a straw can create negative pressure inside the mouth, which may disturb the healing extraction site and can potentially lead to dry socket.
Can You Drink Milk After Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Milk is OK to sip after surgery, so long as it's not hot, per the AAOMS.
As much as you rely on your morning cup of coffee, it's best to avoid caffeinated drinks for the first few days after surgery to avoid irritating your wound, according to the UMass Chan Medical School.
This also includes other caffeinated beverages like tea, soda or energy drinks.
Many of these drinks also fall under other categories to avoid after wisdom teeth removal, like hot or acidic beverages. Instead, drink plenty of water, per the Mayo Clinic.
You should also skip alcohol after your surgery, as it can up your risk for dry socket, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Instead, stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, which can help support the healing process.
- American Dental Association: “What (and How) To Eat When You’re Having Dental Issues”
- University of Washington School of Dentistry: “What To Expect After Your Oral Surgery”
- National Health Service: “Recovery: Wisdom Tooth Removal”
- American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons: "What To Eat After Wisdom Teeth Removal"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dry socket"
- UMass Chan Medical School: "Soft Food to Eat After Dental Surgery"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Wisdom Teeth Removal"
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.