Dental implants are a long-lasting solution for missing teeth that can enable you to eat all of the foods that you enjoy most without limitation. Filling in gaps with a durable replacement tooth that is anchored firmly in your jaw means not worrying about how you will chew foods that are tough, sticky, crunchy, or any other texture. But before you can reach full dietary freedom, it is important to allow your dental implants to properly heal.
How Long Do I Have to Wait Before Eating?
Although you cannot eat for several hours before surgery, once your dental implants are placed, you are free to eat immediately. Keep in mind that your mouth will be numb, and you will still be feeling the effects of the anesthesia for a few hours, so start slowly.
What Foods are Safe to Eat After Surgery?
For the first 24 to 48 hours, you should plan on following a liquid or very soft food diet, as your mouth will be sore and slightly swollen. That does not mean you have to live on room-temperature soup broth or ice cream, however. There are plenty of other options that are gentle on your gums and do not require much chewing, including:
- Yogurt (even better if it is Greek yogurt which is high in protein)
- Mashed potatoes (regular potatoes or sweet potatoes)
- Blended soups
In the days after, you can incorporate other foods that are soft and easy to chew. Expand your diet as you feel comfortable, and if certain foods cause pain, switch to something softer. Some healthy options include:
- Scrambled eggs
- Well-done pasta
- Steamed vegetables
- Soft fruits like bananas, peaches, and berries
- Moist chicken or turkey cut into small pieces
As your gums begin to heal, you will be able to incorporate more solid foods. Remember to chew away from where the dental implant was placed to avoid disturbing the surgical site.
What Should I Drink?
It is essential that you do not use a straw for at least one week after surgery. The suction from the straw can disrupt the healing process and potentially shift the implant placement. You should also avoid carbonated beverages such as soda and seltzer, as well as alcohol.
Staying hydrated is important, so focus on drinking plenty of water along with small amounts of fruit or vegetable juice for nutrients (just be cautious about too much added sugar). Smoothies and pureed soups can also be a good source of liquid, and you can blend in fruits and vegetables for added nutrition.
What Foods Should I Avoid?
Dental specialists emphasize eating soft foods to prevent damage or pressure on the implant as it heals and prevent additional bleeding at the surgical site. Certain foods can interfere with the healing process and cause you unnecessary discomfort, so it is recommended that you avoid the following for several weeks:
- Crunchy or hard foods such as chips, pretzels, nuts, and raw carrots.
- Tough foods such as steak or jerky.
- Sticky foods such as gum, caramel, gummies, or taffy.
- Spicy foods, including hot salsa or peppers.
- Acidic foods such as tomatoes, oranges, and other citrus fruits.
- Hot foods such as coffee, tea, soups, and melted dips.
Will Eating Hurt?
Your mouth will be sore for a few days, but eating very soft foods can minimize any discomfort. You want to make it a point to eat regularly throughout the day so that your body has the energy it needs to support healing and ward off illness and infection. Skipping meals can leave you feeling weak and prevent you from getting proper nutrition.
Stay on top of swelling and discomfort by taking over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatories as prescribed. You can also apply ice packs for the first day or two after surgery and heat packs after that help with pain management.
Caring for Your Dental Implant
Immediately after surgery, gauze will be placed over the site to help stop any bleeding. Bite down on clean gauze to apply firm pressure if it starts to bleed again. You can also use a cool, moist tea bag, as the tannins help with contracting blood vessels and promoting clotting. Avoid the temptation to touch the surgical site with your tongue.
You should avoid rinsing your mouth for the first 48 hours. After that, you can gently swish with a salt-water solution several times a day and let it flow out of your mouth rather than forcefully spitting. It is okay to start brushing your teeth again the day after surgery, being careful to avoid the implant site.
Regain Full Function of Your Mouth with Dental Implants
Once the dental implant has fully healed and integrated with the jawbone, a permanent crown will be attached. At that point, you can resume eating all of the foods you normally enjoy without having to limit yourself to only soft options. The end result is worth the wait, and it is worth the small inconvenience of having to adjust your diet.
If you have any questions or concerns about your recovery or dental implants, contact us at Clagett Dental Solutions by calling (270) 982-7377.