No matter how involved the procedure, knowing what foods to eat after wisdom tooth extraction can not only help your extraction site heal more quickly, but it can also be very comforting to you in your recovery period. Here’s what you should know.

The basics of wisdom teeth aftercare

Wisdom teeth aftercare comes with a very specific set of actions designed to promote healing and limit the possibility of complications. Immediately following surgery, your surgical assistant will place a surgical pad over your extraction site. This pad must stay in place for 30 minutes, after which time it can typically be removed.

There are a few other important general guidelines to follow:

  • Avoid vigorous swishing, rinsing, or spitting, as these actions can dislodge the clot that forms to protect the extraction site
  • Limit activity on the day of surgery and the following day
  • Use ice packs on your jaw to control swelling and take ibuprofen as directed for pain
  • Begin brushing teeth again the day after surgery, but be gentle!
  • Physical activity is fine 24 hours after surgery, but avoid heavy lifting, vigorous activity, and forward bends
  • As the extraction site heals, rinse your mouth with salt water to keep the area clean, and eventually new tissue will fill in the gap in your gums
  • Follow any additional wisdom teeth aftercare instructions from your oral surgeon

Your oral surgeon will prescribe pain medications to be taken just before sedation from surgery wears off. Take these medications only as prescribed, and stop taking them when your pain can be managed by ibuprofen alone. If you are at risk for infection, they may also prescribe you an antibiotic for before or after surgery.

Above all else, remember that no two surgeries are the same. Be patient and take good care of yourself as you heal.

What are the best foods to eat after wisdom tooth extraction?

Part of taking good care of yourself after wisdom teeth extraction is feeding yourself well. Even if you can’t manage solid food (more on that later!), certain types of delicious foods can help your body heal while fighting inflammation. Here are 18 of our favorite post-op foods to eat after wisdom tooth extraction.

  1. Mashed potatoes: When mashing, use kefir instead of milk for probiotic benefits (especially if you’re taking antibiotics)
  2. Apples, in sauce or peeled and baked until soft: Extra cinnamon may even help with healing
  3. Ice cream: In moderation, this cold treat can be very soothing
  4. Smoothies and milkshakes: Never use a straw with these, but enjoy these yummy and nutritious treats with a spoon
  5. Creamed soups and broths: For protein and more filling meals
  6. Oatmeal: Creamy overnight oats (without nuts or chunky seeds) are an easy way to get a delicious, hearty breakfast while you heal
  7. Butternut squash: Butternut squash in a warm, comforting soup helps to reduce inflammation and boost your immune response to prevent infection
  8. Sweet potatoes: Top with yogurt for calcium and probiotic benefits
  9. Crab cakes: Treat yourself to something delicious as you heal
  10. Cream of wheat or grits/polenta: Cook both with a little extra milk to make them creamy and smooth
  11. Eggs: Scrambled, poached, fried, or in a cheese omelet
  12. Guacamole: Make an easy-to-eat five-layer dip with guac, refried beans, shredded cheese, and sour cream (but, no tortilla chips just yet!)
  13. Pancakes: Top with bananas sautéed in a little butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon
  14. Pasta: Cooked soft and topped with smooth pesto sauce
  15. Risotto: This is a perfect dinner for the end of the first week when you are looking for more substantial meals
  16. Tofu: Steamed tofu with a side of soft mixed vegetables (e.g., carrots and squash), splashed with some soy sauce and finished with a drizzle of sesame oil can be a welcome healing meal
  17. Soft fruits: Bananas, very ripe melon, and soft peaches are naturally sweet and easy to eat
  18. Pudding: It wouldn’t be a proper list of foods to eat after wisdom teeth extraction without pudding

The rules

As you’ve probably already noticed, there’s a pattern here.

After wisdom teeth extraction, stick to soft foods that don’t require much (if any) chewing. If any kind of chewing whatsoever is challenging, many of these foods can be puréed and consumed that way (without using a straw!).

What not to eat after a wisdom tooth extraction

After a few days you may find yourself sick to death of soft foods with no bite. While the temptation to cook up a hearty meal may feel overwhelming, resist. Certain foods can not only extend healing times but also result in complications, including dry sockets or torn stitches.

In general, avoid highly acidic foods including any type of citrus. For some, tomatoes may fall into this category, but others might tolerate the lower-acid vegetables found in the supermarket.

Any foods that can easily break into hard pieces should also be avoided. Chips, crackers, and pretzels are definitely foods to avoid after wisdom teeth extraction, as are popcorn, cookies, and anything with nuts. Tiny pieces can get lodged into the hole left behind from the extraction, causing an infection that can delay and complicate healing.

Other foods to avoid include anything that can dislodge the clot that is crucial to healing. Food that requires extensive chewing or that causes you to open your mouth very wide can contribute to this, as can using a straw or any kind of sucking action.

Overly spicy foods may not cause the clot to dislodge but can be seriously uncomfortable if they find their way into the healing wound.

When can I start eating solid foods?

There is no hard-and-fast rule about re-introducing solid foods, as no two patients are alike. In general, once the pain and swelling diminish you can begin introducing more of the solid foods from the list above into your diet. Go slowly, and don’t push your recovery. If healing well means waiting a couple more days, pull out the blender and console yourself with a milkshake.

If you or a family member have had your wisdom teeth removed, what were your favorite foods to eat after wisdom teeth extraction? Have additional questions? Reach out to our Phoenix area dentist team for more information!