One of the great things about dental implants is that, once you are fully healed from the procedure, you will basically be able to eat anything you want. Unlike other tooth restoration options, such as dentures, implants do not require significant lifestyle changes. Our patients love implants because they make it possible to continue enjoying their favorite foods.
With that said, some caution is in order during the initial recovery process, as the implants heal into place. When you are discharged following surgery, you will be provided with a detailed set of aftercare instructions. Many of those instructions will focus on what you can and cannot eat.
By following these nutritional guidelines, you can expedite your healing process and minimize the risk of complications. Here is a roundup of some basic nutritional tips to follow.
Stick to Soft Foods (At Least at First)
When you arrive home following your dental implant surgery, your gums will likely be tender and sore. Additionally, your jaw may be stiff, making it more difficult to chew and swallow.
As such, we generally recommend that you stick to a diet of liquids and soft foods for a few days following your surgery, allowing your gums the chance to heal. For some patients, it may be necessary to stick to soft foods for a full ten days. Many patients can begin transitioning back to their regular diet well before the 10-day mark. It just depends on how comfortable you are feeling. Generally, we would say that it is okay to advance to a more regular diet as soon as you feel able.
Getting sufficient nutrients is an important way to fuel your recovery, and ultimately to regain your strength sooner rather than later.
Fortunately, there are plenty of protein sources that should be easy on your sore gums. Examples include:
- Scrambled eggs
- Smooth peanut or almond butter
- Cooked fish
A few other soft foods that provide nutritional value include:
- Pasta, including Ramen noodles
- Mashed bananas
- Mashed potatoes
- Steamed veggies
- Soups and broths
- Cooked cereals
- Cottage cheese
What About Liquids?
Following any surgery, it is important to get plenty of liquids. Not only does fluid intake help you prevent dehydration, but it can also help replenish any blood you have lost. Fluid intake is especially important if you have had anesthesia.
How much liquid intake should you have? Try for at least six glasses of water each day for the first few days of your recovery. Smoothies can also be a great option, as they can provide additional protein, vitamins, and general nutritional value. With that said, you will want to be sure to avoid smoothies that include big “chunks” in them.
There are a couple of cautions we would offer when it comes to liquid intake. First, you will want to avoid any liquids that are too cold or too hot. Extremes in temperature may cause inflammation, which can result in pain, bleeding, or a slowed healing time. For soups and broths, try to enjoy them when they are close to room temperature—the same holds for coffee and tea.
Speaking of which, we advise patients to avoid alcohol and caffeine as much as possible while they recover from an oral surgery procedure. A little caffeine is not the end of the world, but keep in mind that caffeine consumption can contribute to dehydration.
A final word about liquids: While smoothies and even milkshakes can be alright, it is important to avoid drinking from a straw for the first three or four days of your recovery. The act of sucking on a straw may inadvertently dislodge your blood clot, causing significant bleeding.
Foods to Avoid
While there are plenty of foods you can enjoy as you recover from dental implant surgery, there are also certain foods you will want to avoid. A few examples include:
- Alcohol. Avoid alcohol consumption, as it can inflame the tissue around your implant site. Additionally, alcohol may cause an unwanted reaction to your prescription medications.
- Acidic fruits. Steer clear of heavily acidic fruits and fruit juices, including orange juice. The acid may cause you some discomfort around your dental implants.
- Popcorn. Popcorn hulls are one of the leading contributors to cracked teeth. It is also very easy to accidentally get a little piece of popcorn hull stuck between a healthy tooth and a healing implant.
- Spicy foods. Lay off the heat for a while, as it can cause inflammation around the site of your dental implant.
- Anything crunchy, sticky, or hard to chew. Think chips, nuts, and sticky or hard candies. Any of these foods may result in irritation, inflammation, or bleeding.
- Foods that require a lot of chewing. Steak and pork chops should be avoided for a little while, but once healed, you will be able to enjoy them again without worry.
- Mouthwashes. Certain over-the-counter mouthwashes can interfere with the healing process. Ask your surgeon about which types of mouthwash you should use.
Learn More About Dental Implant Recovery
As you recover from dental implant surgery, some basic aftercare instructions can expedite your healing process and help you avoid complications. Sound nutrition is at the top of the list.
If you have any questions about what you can or cannot eat during your recovery, contact our team in Clearwater, FL at your convenience.