One of the best benefits of dental implants is, that after your mouth heals and your permanent prosthetic teeth are in place, you will have no diet restrictions. However, immediately after the dental implant surgery, you will need to be careful with what you eat or drink while your gums and jaw recover.
Let’s take a look at the foods you should avoid after dental implant surgery, as well as how long you can expect your mouth to fully heal.
The day after dental implant surgery, you’ll want to choose primarily soft foods that you don’t need to chew that hard. You may experience mild to moderate discomfort and swelling and trying to chew food be uncomfortable. We recommend cool, liquid foods, or other especially soft foods. For example:
- Soups (broths or cream-based). It’s important that you let the soup cool before eating
- Ice cream or frozen yogurt
- Scrambled eggs
- Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or cauliflower
- Yogurt and pudding
- Premade protein shakes (like Boost and Ensure)
- Other liquid or soft foods that don’t require hard chewing
Patients should avoid hot foods, since that can damage your healing gums, extending the overall healing process. This includes hot soups and beverages like coffee and tea. Many patients forgo having these kinds of drinks until after the first few weeks of recovery, so their gums have a chance to properly, and quickly, heal.
If your dental implants have been properly placed, food will not be able to get underneath them. Even the day after your dental implant surgery, there is no space for food to slip past your implant screws. However, dental implants that were placed poorly may drift and move, which may allow food to get into the gum line, which can cause infection.
Once your dental implants have fully healed, and your permanent prosthetic teeth are placed, you will never have to worry about food getting under your implants. There will not be a way for food to get past the screws in your jawbone, and you will not have to worry about any kind of dietary restriction.
Most patients can return to a normal diet around two weeks after their dental implant surgery. This will depend on how quickly your gums and jaw heal, and so some patients may have a shorter or longer timeframe. Activities like smoking (of any kind) can delay healing, so you should avoid smoking during healing.
If you are only replacing one or a few teeth, most patients can resume normal eating habits a couple of weeks after the surgery. If you get all-on-four dental implants, you will be using temporary teeth and won’t receive your permanent prosthetic until after your gums have completely healed. During this healing period, you should exercise caution and avoid food that is very hard, chewy, etc. (see below for specific suggestions). Once you receive your permanent teeth, you will not have any dietary restrictions.
After about a week following your dental implant surgery, you can start to reintroduce more solid foods. This should be done gradually since you want to avoid irritating your gums or implants. Good foods to introduce that are solid, but still soft, include:
- Pasta (though you should avoid red sauce since it’s very acidic)
- Steamed vegetables
- Steamed rice
- Bread (preferably soft bread that don’t have a hard crust)
- Shredded meats
- Any other liquid or soft foods you enjoyed immediately following your surgery
Once several weeks have passed and your gums and jaw no longer hurt or are swollen, you can begin to introduce more solid foods like meat. Again, the recovery time will vary from patient to patient, and your oral surgeon may have instructions specific for your recovery that you should follow.
Patients may find that, even after the initial pain has left, it still feels uncomfortable to eat all of the foods they normally would. It is not uncommon to wait until your permanent, prosthetic teeth have been placed to fully return to your normal diet.
Once your mouth has recovered from the dental implant surgery, you will not have any diet restrictions. Patients can eat or drink as though they had their natural teeth. However, during the healing process (a couple of weeks for most dental implant procedures), there are some foods you should avoid. Even if the pain has subsided and your mouth feels comfortable, you should exercise caution with the following foods:
- Spicy foods. They will burn and irritate your gum line, especially the first few weeks following your dental implant surgery.
- Chewy foods. Foods like chewy candy, steak or other cuts of meat should be avoided. Your bite strength won’t be strong enough to properly chew them, and you’re likely to feel a lot of pain or discomfort.
- Sticky foods. Foods like toffee, taffy, or other sticky foods should be avoided. It will be hard to clean these foods off of your teeth, and you’ll already have to brush more gently than you’re used to.
- Crunchy foods. Even if these foods don’t hurt to chew, they break into small, sharp bits, which can irritate your gums. Some examples of crunchy foods include popcorn and most kinds of chips.
- Hard foods. Any food that requires a lot of bite force to break should be avoided. This includes peanuts, tree nuts, hard candies, and ice.
- Very hot foods. You should avoid eating any foods that are especially hot, including soups, tea, and coffee. Hot foods and liquids can damage your gums, which will increase your healing time. The longer it takes your mouth to heal, the longer it will take to get your permanent prosthetic teeth placed.
- Acidic foods. This includes marinara sauce, strongly brewed coffee, and fermented foods.
In general, you should avoid foods that will cause discomfort to your healing gums, foods that could cause damage to your gums, or foods that require a high level of effort to chew. If you have questions about what specifically you can expect to eat, your oral surgeon will be able to provide suggestions that are more catered to your specific needs.
There are several, easy steps you can take that will help your implants to heal faster. First, avoiding foods that will hurt your gums and prevent healing is important. Hot foods and spicy foods will cause damage and irritate your gums, making it take longer for your gums to heal. Trying to eat hard or chewy foods too quickly can also delay the healing process.
Making sure that infection doesn’t occur will also help your gums to heal faster. Using a gentle saltwater rinse on a regular basis will kill off germs that would cause infection without causing too much irritation to your gums. Regularly using a salt rinse, especially after eating, can help your gums to heal more quickly.
General good oral hygiene, like regularly brushing, will help keep your gums clean and will help to speed healing. You should also avoid bad oral habits, like smoking of any kind or any kind of tobacco use since this will delay healing.
Finally, making sure you eat enough food and get the nutrients you need is extremely important to the healing process. Not getting enough calories and not getting enough protein can slow your body’s ability to heal. Your body needs energy (especially protein), to heal your gums and jawbone, and it is easy to experience a nutrient deficit while it is difficult to eat. Protein shakes are an easy way to make sure you get the calories and nutrients you need, especially during the first 1-2 weeks after your dental implant surgery.
It can be challenging to brush your teeth after dental implant surgery, but it is imperative that you do it. This will help your gums to stay clean, which will help prevent infection. We recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently brush above and around the dental implant site. Many of our patients end up using children’s toothbrushes after the surgery, which we strongly encourage.
You’ll only need to be careful with brushing your teeth after the first two weeks of surgery; during this time, you should eat soft foods and avoid smoking. After the initial two weeks, the majority of patients can return to their normal oral hygiene habits.