Once your tooth extraction is behind you, the hardest part of the removal process is over. Of course, some patients immediately find themselves facing another hard task: adjusting to their temporary diet! Many come to us with pressing questions, wondering “When can I eat solid food after my tooth extraction?”

Returning to your usual meals and comfort foods can be a sign that your recovery process is ending, but only if you’ve given your body the time it needs to heal. In the meantime, the right foods can help you avoid extra pain around the surgery site. 

Let’s take a look at why you should steer clear of solid foods after an extraction, which foods are safe to eat after surgery, and when you can return to your normal diet.

Why Avoid Solid Food After a Tooth Extraction?

After your oral surgery, you may not feel up to eating hard food at all.

Your gums and dental tissue are soft, and they may be sensitive. The tooth removal and stitches can cause swelling, soreness, and even light bleeding. Many patients find that even small movements when eating or speaking can make their mouths ache.

During this time, the area around your removed tooth will be exposed and vulnerable. While the area is still healing, we recommend that you avoid hard food that can brush against your sore dental tissue. This allows your cells to begin creating new tissue over the wound.

In addition, the surgery site can be hard to clean without pain. If food particles get stuck in the area, it can make you more likely to get an infection. Avoiding solid foods for a short time can help minimize this risk.

What Foods Should I Eat Right After Surgery?

Right after you get a damaged tooth removed, we recommend eating and drinking cool liquids and soft foods. This is true for at least the first 24 hours after your procedure.

Here are grocery items you may want to stock up on before you visit your dentist for the surgery:

  • Yogurt
  • Pudding and Jell-o
  • Broth-based or creamy soups
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Protein shakes
  • Soft cheeses
  • Soft cereals like oatmeal

Remember that you should not use a straw at this time, even for liquids, smoothies, and shakes. The process of sucking liquid through a straw can dislodge the healing clot. This painful condition is called dry socket, and it can delay your healing or require you to come in for a replacement dressing. 

Once the surgery site has started to heal, you can begin eating foods that are slightly more solid. You can start eating these foods within around 48 hours of your surgery. As a rule of thumb, these foods should be easy to chew, requiring little force to do so.

Here are examples of foods to try:

  • Fish
  • Soft fruits like bananas or grapes
  • Soft vegetables like avocadoes
  • Scrambled or soft-boiled eggs
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Beans

We recommend chewing these foods on the opposite side of your mouth from the surgery site. This can help you avoid pain while you continue healing.

At no time during this period should you consume alcohol. This can interfere with the post-op medications you’re taking.

When Can I Eat Solid Food After a Tooth Extraction?

The answer to this question varies from patient to patient, and it can also vary based on the type of extraction you’ve had. In general, most patients will feel well enough to eat increasingly more solid foods within around ten days to two weeks after their surgery. 

It’s still a good idea to chew food on the opposite side of your mouth from the surgery site until two weeks have passed after your surgery. Taking small bites can also help ensure you’re taking on more manageable amounts of hard food at a time.

What Foods Should I Avoid?

During the healing process and even after you first resume eating solid foods, there are a few types of food you should continue to avoid.

After you remove a tooth, you’ll want to steer clear of spicy foods, which can cause pain and irritation around the surgery site. Hot foods can also increase swelling, especially within the first few weeks, so you may want to stick to cooler meals. Crunchy or crumbly foods, such as small grains or seeds, can get stuck in the surgery site, so you’ll want to tackle your oral hygiene with care if you choose to eat them.

Tough foods, like stringy or dense cuts of meat, can be hard on your surgery site. Sticky or chewy foods can cling to your socket and disrupt your healing. Avoid these foods as well.

Can Solid Food Impact My Recovery? 

If you find yourself tempted by hard foods too soon, what’s the worst that could happen?

For many patients, eating solid foods too early during the recovery period won’t cause serious harm. As long as you chew with care on the side of your mouth opposite the surgery site, you may not irritate the injury.

However, eating solid food is not worth the risk.

In the worst-case scenario, you may cause dry socket by dislodging the blood clot over your missing tooth. You could also introduce food particles that get caught in your still-healing wound, increasing your risk of irritation, pain, and infection. These things can require additional trips to the dentist to inspect and clean the wound.

Avoid the urge to eat solid foods before you’re ready. Give your mouth a chance to heal before you return to your usual diet!

Trust Our Oral Health Experts

Now that you’ve stopped wondering “When can I eat solid food after tooth extraction?” it’s time to take better care of your teeth. Proper aftercare is a crucial part of the recovery process, and your diet plays a major role. Knowing when to switch from softer foods to more solid ones can help you ensure that your surgery site heals with no complications. 

As you navigate your recovery, remember that the team at Jenkins, Morrow & Gayheart Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is here to help. We’ll guide you through your aftercare instructions to maximize your healing. To learn more, contact our team today.