Recovering after a tooth extraction can seem like a long process. This is partly because your diet is so drastically different after the process.
If you’re wondering when you can eat solid food after a tooth extraction surgery, the answer, in general, is 24 hours. Dental experts recommend waiting at least one full day following the extraction to return to normal eating.
However, this advice isn’t as straightforward as it might seem.
Are you wondering, when can I eat solid food after tooth extraction? Some people will need to wait a day or two longer to return to eating solids.
Others will be able to eat solid food right away as long as they chew on the opposite side of the extraction. And still others will be able to eat some solid food as long as it’s soft and not chewy.
Here’s what you need to know about returning to normal after a tooth extraction.
Four Stages of Healing
There are four stages of wound healing after a tooth extraction or after any type of procedure or wounding. These stages include:
- Tissue remodelling
The stage in which you should return to eating solid foods is the third stage: proliferation. During this stage, your body begins regenerating tissue over the wound. This means some protection occurs naturally. Following a tooth extraction, proliferation tends to occur within a few hours, but it can take up to several days.
Also, remember that even if you’ve reached the proliferation stage, it’s still important to take small bites, chew slowly, and be careful for several days to a few weeks after the extraction. Your mouth is healing and you don’t want to do anything to prolong this process.
What Counts as Solid Food After a Tooth Extraction?
It’s also important to note that solid food doesn’t mean munching on crunchy foods like potato chips or eating taffy. There are limits to what you should eat once you return from a liquid-only diet.
The best solid foods to begin with after an extraction include:
- Cottage cheese
- Poached, boiled, or scrambled egg
- Potatoes, especially mashed
- Well-cooked veggies
As long as food is mushable or at least very easy to chew, it’s probably okay to eat within a few days after an extraction.
Following an extraction, it’s best to avoid:
- Meat that requires a lot of chewing
- Hard food
- Acidic foods
- Crunchy foods
- Chewy foods
- Spicy food
- Anything that requires a straw
Activities to Avoid After an Extraction
In addition to certain foods you’ll want to avoid, there are also activities you’ll want to put on hold after an extraction. Your dentist will provide complete guidance based on your specific circumstances. However, in general, following an extraction, you’ll want to avoid:
- Applying heat to the face
- Using straws
- Blowing your nose
- Sneezing with your mouth closed
- Rinsing your mouth
You can brush your teeth during the first 24 hours, but you should avoid the extraction area. You can also rinse with warm salt water after 24 hours after meals to remove food particles.
What types of foods and avoid aren’t the only things you’ll want to know following an extraction.
It’s important to consider whether you’ve had a simple or complex tooth extraction. Simpler extractions have a faster recovery process than complex surgical extractions.
They are quick procedures, and many people can begin introducing semi-soft foods within 24 hours or so. Many people are back to normal within a week or two.
Surgical extractions, on the other hand, take longer to recover. They are more invasive and are often performed under general or twilight anesthesia. These make you groggy, and you shouldn’t be driving.
In general, the timeline for healing following an extraction is as follows:
12 to 24 hours
- Mild bleeding is normal
- Mild to moderate pain is normal
- Keep gauze in your mouth for about one to three hours, switching it out periodically
- An ice pack can be used during this time
2 to 3 days
- Swelling is normal and can increase during this time
- Mild pain or discomfort is normal
- Application of an ice pack can continue for 15-minute periods to help with swelling
- Light activity can begin after one full day and continue to return to normal during this time
1 or more weeks
Under a doctor’s recommendation, you can return to normal and resume all physical activities.
Are Tooth Extractions Risky?
Like all medical and surgical procedures, there are some risks associated with tooth extraction surgery. Most of the risks have to do with the healing phase after the procedure. For example:
- Excessive bleeding post-op
- Paraesthesia (pricking in the face)
- Dry socket
- Death of the jaw bone due to lack of blood (necrosis)
Why Tooth Extraction?
There are several reasons why someone might need to have or choose to have a tooth extraction. These include:
- Wisdom teeth (impacted and erupted)
- Cracked or fractured teeth
- Untreatable cavities
- Failed root canals
- Tooth causing trauma in the mouth
One of the most important things to remember following an extraction is that you should wait at least 24 hours following the procedure to re-introduce solid foods.
The first solids you should eat should be soft foods and require little to no chewing. This should continue for several days based on your dentist’s recommendation.
Every situation is different. Your dentist will give you specific guidelines to follow after the extraction. Generally, a basic extraction takes about a month to heal completely.
However, everyone’s body is different, and healing times vary. If you don’t feel as if you have recovered fully within 30 days, contact your dentist.
If you’d like to know more about dealing with the aftermath of a tooth extraction or wisdom teeth removal, or you’re interested in learning more about porcelain veneers, bridges, crowns, and root canals with a gentle touch, we can help. Call us now to book a consultation in Belleville or Trenton, ON.