Ideally, you should visit the dentist twice a year for overall dental health. But not everyone can afford it, and dentists can be scary! So most people avoid the tooth clinic unless it’s an emergency – no judgment here! But it does mean you only end up there for extractions.
As you prepare to have your tooth taken out, you’ll wonder … when can I eat solid food after tooth extraction? Dentists recommend waiting 24 hours, and even then they advise you to eat soft foods. Let’s take a deeper look at your dietary needs following a tooth extraction.
When Can I eat solid food after wisdom teeth removal?
When you go to the dentist, you’re probably expecting strange smells, startling sounds, and a lot of pain. So you’re already uneasy. But since you’re reading this article, you’ve begun to psychologically prepare yourself for treatment, and that’s the most important step. Besides, dentistry isn’t as bad as it used to be. You can get laser extraction or sleep dentistry options.
Dental lasers aren’t as frightening as they sound. They typically heal faster and hurt less than manual extraction. And with sleep dentistry, you’ll stay awake, but you’ll feel calm, drowsy, and sometimes a little giggly, so it takes most of the discomfort out of your treatment. But even with manual work, a good dentist will give you the right dose of dental anesthesia.
For most patients, the issue comes after you leave the clinic. Once the numbing drugs wear off, you won’t feel very good. Your dentist will give you pain medication to manage the ache and advise you to avoid hot food, acidic dishes, or spicy food. These can cause irritation. But given your soreness and healing process, you may not be hungry until your jaw calms down.
Soup for You!
When your tooth is extracted, wait at least 24 hours before eating solid food to avoid bugging the extraction site. This doesn’t mean you have to starve. Start with slurry snacks like soft-serve ice cream, yogurt, smoothies, custard, or hummus. Given your ordeal, you’re allowed some sweet treats! But soup can be helpful because you can sneak lots of nutrients in there.
After tooth extraction, your teeth and gums are quite sensitive, so anything you eat or drink should be warm. Chilled snacks can be helpful because they’ll soothe the sore tissues and can be mildly numbing, which also helps with pain. But you might be sensitive to the sugar and temperature, so try a small amount to see if your sore teeth can handle it – the ice may sting!
Chew slowly and carefully to avoid direct contact with your wound. Your tongue can move the food to the sides of your mouth which hurt less. Try rinsing with warm salt water to loosen any food particles – swish a cup of water with a teaspoon of salt. This natural disinfectant eases inflammation and discomfort. Alternatively, get an irrigation syringe from the clinic.
The Joy of Toothy Grins
Which of your teeth was taken out? If your extraction was caused by a cavity, you may have had a filling and/or a root canal earlier on. If the tooth got further damage after that initial treatment, the dentist may recommend extraction. But if you waited for the last possible moment to go to the clinic (as most patients do), the dentist didn’t have time to save the tooth.
On the other hand, you may have gone in for wisdom teeth removal. This oral surgery often involves drilling into your jaw bone. So even after the wound fills out, your bone structure may still feel sore. And because these wounds are at the back, talking might be tough too. But don’t use straws, because that suction can make your socket clot loosen, dissolve, or fall off!
If your missing tooth is at the front, you can use a long-handled spoon (or chopsticks!) to avoid bothering the wound. But if they’re molars, premolars, or wisdom tooth removal, you’ll have to be gentler when you eat. Don’t panic yet! Remember, infants eat pretty well before their first teeth grow! So you can chew the right kinds of food if you maneuver your gums.
As you recover from your tooth extraction, your blender is your new best friend. You can cook pretty much any meal you like and then pass it through a food processor. Take your time and play around with consistency, letting your food slurry get thicker by the day until you can eat it unblended. You could also rub chilled carrots or celery sticks on your gums.
This may feel silly, but it works for teething toddlers, and it’s a healthy way to cool your wounds. It will also prep you psychologically for solid foods since your tongue will catch the flavor and texture. Just don’t rub too hard – you don’t want to open the wound! Cold jello is equally useful. You could try rolling it around in your mouth to harness that soothing effect.
These workarounds can be helpful, but you probably miss your steaks and sandwiches. You may find yourself dreaming of burgers and silently screaming. And you’ll keep calling the clinic or hammering Google to find out when you can eat solid food again. After your extraction, eat soft, mushy foods for a week or so, then gradually reintroduce hard food.
But for the first 24 hours, stick to thick liquid dishes and stock up on soft snacks. On Day #2, you can experiment with risotto, bread dunked in tea, or pasta soaked in sauce. Keep the flavors mild to avoid shocking your system. Mushy fruits like bananas, pawpaw, avocado, or applesauce are safe, and you can mash them with the back of your spoon before every bite.
Safe Solids After Wisdom Teeth Extraction
You’ve survived the first 24 hours and you’re starting to get peckish. What are your options for solid foods that won’t disrupt your tooth extraction site? Here are some ideas you can try:
- Pureed Veggies – Fruit and veggie mash are the go-to for weaning infants, and you can make them as smooth or chunky as you want. You can buy commercial baby food at the store or use a blender, a masher, or a wooden spoon to make the food at home.
- Mashed Potatoes – The thickness and consistency depend on your taste, so tweak it as you go. You can substitute the potatoes with tofu, cauliflower, parsnips, pumpkins, turnips, rutabaga, or squash. For some sweetness and color, try ube or purple yams.
- Pudding – Pudding is a catch-all term that covers lots of different desserts. You can make it at home or buy a jar at the store. And depending on what you like, your pudding can be savory or sweet. Try rice pudding with milk, but use larger raisins.
- Soft Eggs – You may prefer your eggs runny, in which case you can enjoy them immediately after tooth extraction. Just make sure the eggs aren’t hot. But even if you prefer firm, set eggs, you can scramble or poach them. Soft-boiled eggs are good too.
- Thick Dairy – Greek yogurt is more solid than other kinds, so it’s a good choice. Cottage cheese, ricotta, paneer, mozzarella, and cheese spreads are equally safe. You could still eat a harder cheese if you melt it over your food, but it has to be lukewarm.
- Vegan Cheese – If your lifestyle locks out dairy, chances are you know how to make vegan cheese at home. The advantage here is you can make your cheese as soft or hard as you want it. But if your cheese has a nutty base, be sure to puree the chunks.
- Oatmeal – Most cultures have some kind of mushy grains in their diet, whether it’s oatmeal, corn porridge, mealie mash, or soggy cornflakes. They’re a healthy go-to after teeth extractions, and you can eat a lukewarm bowl right after your procedure.
- Fish – You may be off meat for a while, but when fish is made well, it’s soft and flaky, so it’s a safe option after tooth extraction. Opt for fish cakes, fillets, or slim slices to avoid bones and skin. Fish fingers won’t work because they’re breaded and crunchy.
- Legumes – Some people like their legumes soft and mushy, so if you eat yours that way, they’re a suitable solid food. Options include beans, peas, and lentils. You’ll need to boil, stew, or steam them until they reach a palatable texture. Use mild seasoning.
Quick caveat: the first solid food your dentist may suggest – ironically – is ice cream. It’s probably the only time medical experts recommend it, both for practical and psychological reasons. And yes, froyo counts too. But don’t go nuts with the toppings. All that fruit and the pretty sprinkles could easily get stuck in your wound, then you’ll be back in the dentist’s chair!
Keep Up Your Fluids
Also, while solid food is important, fluids matter even more. If you don’t get enough, you could develop dry socket, a condition where the wound doesn’t heal properly. Remember, teeth extractions leave a hole in your gums. You need your blood clot to cover the open wound. This allows the bone and soft tissue to regrow. Otherwise, you could get an infection.
To enhance healing, stay away from anything that could affect that clot. If you’re a drinker or smoker, take a break for 48 hours to a week. Straws and vapes can shake up the clot as well. They could end up causing dry socket and other complications, so use a long spoon, fork, or chopsticks instead. Eat in smaller bites to avoid stressing your jaw – it can’t open that wide!
Here’s a factor you may not have considered – menstrual matters. The timing of your tooth extraction can affect pain levels and healing duration. Have the procedure as soon as possible after your period – that’s when your hormones are lowest. And if you’re on the pill, talk to your Obgyn as well, since the hormones can slow your healing and trigger dry socket.
Getting Gummy With It!
When can I eat solid food after tooth extraction? You can safely eat solid food the day after having your tooth taken out. Start with soft foods like mashed potatoes or steamed veggies. And remember, nicotine, alcohol, and fizzy drinks affect your wound. Lay off for a few days.