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Third molars, also called wisdom teeth, usually start coming into the mouth during the teenage years. Many people have inadequate room behind their second molars for them to come in completely. This crowded situation causes a flap of loose tissue to remain over the incompletely erupted tooth. The gap over the tooth and beneath the tissue can trap food and bacteria that lead to pain, swelling, and an infection(1) known as pericoronitis.
Wisdom teeth are commonly removed in early adulthood for this reason and other reasons. Sometimes wisdom teeth cause no problems, and you may not even know you have them. After examining your x-rays, your dentist will either recommend leaving wisdom teeth or removing them early to prevent future problems if it looks like they’re growing in the wrong direction. Dentists will generally recommend extractions earlier in life because younger patients tend to heal faster and experience fewer complications than older patients who have teeth removed.
Taking care of the extraction sites during the first few days after surgery plays a significant role in aiding a comfortable and rapid recovery(2). Getting proper rest, maintaining good oral hygiene, and eating a proper diet can help you return to your daily routine more quickly. Here are some tips on what to eat after getting your wisdom teeth removed.
When can I start eating normally?
This is the first question most people have about recovery from wisdom teeth removal. Resuming a regular diet depends on several factors, including:
- The difficulty of your surgery
- Your overall general health
- Medications you routinely take
- If you smoke or use other tobacco products
- Compliance in following instructions from your dentist after the procedure
Most people return to eating their regular diet within a week, although it is important not to chew on any foods that continue to cause pain.
Foods to avoid after wisdom teeth removal
It is essential to avoid eating certain foods that can interfere with healing in the days following wisdom teeth removal. Some foods to avoid include:
- Foods that crumble easily. Foods such as crackers, cookies, chips, and nuts can break into small pieces and lodge in the extraction site. These can impede clot formation and cause an infection.
- Spicy and acidic foods. These can sting and irritate gum tissues as they heal.
- Chewy and sticky foods. These require the mouth to stay wide longer, which can cause muscle pain.
- Steamy hot foods. These can disrupt the clot that protects the healing socket.
- Alcohol slows healing and can interact dangerously with pain medications.
- The suction created by using straws can dislodge the clot. Avoid straws until completely healed.
Foods to eat after getting wisdom teeth removed
It is important to eat soft and nutritious foods to reduce complications such as swelling and pain. Foods that provide nourishment and promotes healing include:
- Soups and Broths. Blended soups containing no small bits or pieces provide nutrients and hydration. Excellent choices include tomato, pumpkin, cauliflower, and broccoli blended soups. Make sure not to consume soups and broths until they cool to keep from irritating the surgical site. Soups and broths also provide hydration which aids healing.
- Unsweetened Greek yogurt is a healthy source of protein that promotes healing.
- Cottage cheese and eggs. These high protein foods make for a nutritious and filling meal.
- Puddings and applesauce. These smooth foods prevent boredom with a variety of flavours.
- Protein smoothies. Blending fruits, protein powder, and nutritious liquids such as almond milk are great for the time immediately after tooth removal. Make sure no bits or small pieces of fruit remain.
- Mashed bananas(3) provide several essential vitamins, including potassium and manganese.
- Salmon is easy to chew and is high in protein and omega fatty acids.
Eating these and similar soft and nutritious foods can help speed up healing time and reduce possible complications after wisdom teeth removal.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.