Wisdom tooth removal surgery is one of the most common dental surgeries. During the surgery, your dentists or oral surgeon will extract the very back molars on your jaw. These molars only grow out early in adulthood and may cause some complications when they come out.
You might need to have only some (one, two, or three) of your wisdom teeth removed, or you may need to remove all four. How many teeth need to be removed will depend on how they grow out and whether they could cause damage to your jaw or existing teeth.
After your wisdom teeth removal surgery, you will find it challenging to eat. You may experience pain in your jaw and the areas where they removed the teeth during the oral surgery. These areas will be open wounds that need to heal and eating normally will not be possible. Read on to find out about the best food to eat after a wisdom teeth removal surgery.
What are your wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are also called your third molars. They are the last adult teeth to surface, and they usually do so between the ages of 17 and 21. While most people have four wisdom teeth, some only have a couple or a few of their wisdom teeth, and other people have none at all. These teeth are located at the back corners of your mouth, one on each side, left and right, and top and bottom.
Your wisdom teeth are not necessary. Researchers believe that these teeth were used by our ancestors who needed strong back molars to eat hard foods like nuts, uncooked meat, and crunchy leaves. Because we cook our foods and use utensils to cut them into small pieces, we no longer need these strong teeth to break down the food we eat.
Even though you don't need your wisdom teeth, they might not need to be removed. However, sometimes wisdom teeth do not grow out correctly. They could grow out at an angle or be partially trapped under your gum tissue or in your jawbone. This usually happens when there isn't enough room for them along your jaw and could cause future oral health problems. In most cases, problem wisdom teeth are located on the lower jaw.
You might experience pain as the teeth try to erupt (break through) but are unable to do so. In these cases (referred to as having impacted wisdom teeth), it might be best to remove your wisdom teeth altogether. You might also need to have your wisdom teeth removed if impacted wisdom teeth cause pain, swelling, inflamed gums, or if they start to decay. More than that, impacted wisdom teeth could push against your other teeth causing complications.
It is recommended that you have your wisdom teeth checked in your late teens or early 20s while their roots are still developing. Dentists often advise that you remove your wisdom teeth if they are causing trouble or are likely to cause trouble in the future. It is easier to do (potentially with fewer complications) while the wisdom teeth and roots are still forming. This is one of the most common dental surgeries (around 10 million wisdom teeth are removed in the United States annually) and is usually done in an outpatient procedure.
Some questions to consider when considering whether you need to remove your wisdom teeth include:
- Is there already damage caused, or do you experience pain in your jaw or the teeth around your wisdom teeth or at the site where your wisdom teeth are supposed to come out?
- Is there an increased risk or likelihood that your wisdom teeth erupting will cause pain or damage to the surrounding teeth or your jaw in the future?
- Are your wisdom teeth preventing your other teeth from developing correctly?
- Are your wisdom teeth causing your other teeth to grow skew?
- Is there a possibility that your wisdom teeth could interfere with other dental or jaw-related procedures or treatments that are already planned?
- Will you benefit from keeping your wisdom teeth? For example, could you use them instead of other molars that have been pulled, are otherwise missing, or are badly damaged?
- What are the risks associated with surgically removing your wisdom teeth versus keeping them?
What pain levels can I expect while eating during recovery?
Removing wisdom teeth is seldom straightforward teeth pulling and often involves oral surgery. That is because these teeth are often impacted or lying underneath the gums. Because of this, your dentist or oral surgeon will almost always have to make an incision in the gum tissue in order to remove the tooth. After the surgery, you will have a wound with stitches or an open tooth socket where the tooth used to be. These wounds will take time and require some care to heal.
There will be some pain and discomfort along with swelling, especially in the first two days after your wisdom teeth removal surgery. Your mouth could still be sore for up to a week after the operation.
The level of pain you experience will depend on a number of factors. Your pain will be worse if you have a complicated extraction and if you have multiple teeth removed instead of only one. In general, teeth that grow upright, have already broken through the skin, and simply have to be pulled will be less painful after the surgery. On the other hand, if your teeth are impacted (unable to break through your gums) and have to be cut out, you will experience more pain and discomfort afterward. In most cases, the pain should become a lot better around the second or third day after surgery.
Your mouth and cheeks will likely be swollen, you will have swollen gums, and there will be some bruising. The swelling should go down in two or three days, while the bruising could take a bit longer to heal. Your jaw might also be sore and stiff.
You will probably bleed where the teeth were removed. Bleeding usually only occurs for the first day after your wisdom tooth removal surgery. Avoid spitting too much to keep the blood clots covering the extraction sites in place. Your dentist or oral surgeon may advise you on replacing the gauze over the open wounds in the tooth sockets.
Sometimes when you have had a permanent adult tooth pulled or extracted, you could experience something called a dry socket. When a tooth is pulled or removed, a blood clot forms where the tooth was. This blood clot protects the bone and nerve endings in the empty tooth socket. It also assists with the growth of new bone and soft tissue for your mouth to heal.
The underlying bone and nerves become exposed if this blood clot gets dislodged. This could cause intense pain in the socket and along the nerves that spread throughout the side of your face. The tooth socket could become inflamed and filled with bits of food that could add to the pain. Dry socket is one of the most common complications after wisdom tooth removal surgery.
While you are healing from wisdom tooth extraction surgery, it is essential that you are careful not to dislodge the blood clot, especially in the first few days. Avoid brushing your teeth, especially in the back, spitting or rinsing, flossing, and drinking from a straw for the first few days after surgery. It is also recommended that you avoid smoking for at least 24 hours after your surgery. After the first day, you can gently rinse your mouth with salt water a few times a day. If you brush your teeth, do so lightly and only brush the front teeth, keeping away from the back where your wisdom teeth were removed.
Rest for the first few days after your surgery. It is best to wait about a week before resuming normal activities.
What foods can I eat after wisdom tooth extraction?
After your wisdom teeth have been removed, your mouth will be sore, but you will need plenty of nutrients to help your body to heal. You may be wondering what to eat after surgery. Drinking soups, juices, and broths might not give you enough nutrients, and you may need to combine these with very soft foods. Here is some information on some of the best soft foods.
During the first few days of your recovery from wisdom teeth extraction surgery, it is best to stick to foods that do not need to be chewed. You can take your food in liquid forms such as soups and smoothies; just remember not to drink these through a straw to avoid dry socket.
Other soft foods that you can eat include:
- Lukewarm soups.
- Soft cheeses like cottage cheese.
- Eggs (scrambled eggs mixed with soft cheese is great!).
- Cooked cereals like oatmeal, congee, cream of wheat, or congee.
- Refried beans.
- Vegetable juices.
- Mashed beans, chickpeas, or cooked lentils.
- Mashed soft fish like salmon, whitefish, or trout.
- Mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes.
- Soft meats like lean beef or chicken (roasted, baked, broiled, or stewed and chopped, diced, or blended).
- Protein shakes.
- Mashed or pureed fruit or vegetables like carrots, beets, yams, spinach, or broccoli (you can try baby food if you don't want to make these yourself).
- Ice cream.
- Frozen yogurt.
- Water and lukewarm chamomile tea.
It is a good idea to start with soups and smoothies as they can give you plenty of nutrients without needing to chew. Cold smoothies that contain ice could help manage your pain. You can start eating (or drinking) these as soon as the numbness has subsided.
Remember to include protein in your soups or smoothies. You can do this by adding protein powder, yogurt (especially Greek yogurt), or cottage cheese into your soups or smoothies.
Bear in mind that you might consume more sugar than you realize when drinking smoothies or other fluids or eating yogurt containing fruit.
You will also need to include healthy fats into your diet; these fats can be found in avocados, coconut oil or butter, flax oil, olive oil, and fish.
After a few days, once the pain has started to recede, you could consider firmer and semi soft foods like mashed potatoes or vegetables, bananas, avocado, soft sandwiches, or eggs. You can start eating solid foods as the pain subsides. This could be about four days after surgery but sooner or later, depending on how quickly you heal. As you reintroduce solid foods, stick to foods that are not too hard, crunchy, or sticky, and try to chew away from the extraction sites.
Rice and pasta or other small grain food could be eaten, but care should be taken as they can get trapped in your teeth and make it more challenging to keep your mouth clean. If you want to eat rice or pasta, boil it until they are soft and can be crushed with your tongue instead of being chewed.
You will likely be eating less, especially during the first few days after your wisdom tooth removal surgery, because it might be sore or uncomfortable to eat, chew, and move your jaw. Still, try to eat regular small meals high in calories and protein while providing the nutrients your body needs.
You may need to increase your fluid intake to avoid becoming dehydrated. This is especially important considering that we usually take in about 20% of our daily fluids through the food we eat each day. Remember that you must drink at least five to six glasses of fluid each day and more if the weather is hot and humid.
Staying hydrated and eating regularly will help you heal faster, ease your discomfort, and give you strength during the time after your surgery.
What food should I avoid after wisdom tooth oral surgery?
Some may irritate the surgical wound or get stuck in the socket where teeth were removed. This could cause pain and bleeding, and your mouth could take longer to heal. You will also want to avoid anything that can get stuck in your tooth sockets or disturb the blood clot that is helping your mouth to heal.
Avoid eating solid or potentially irritating foods for the first few days after your surgery. These foods include:
- Extremely hot foods.
- Any hard or crunchy food like pretzels, nuts, seeds, or chips.
- Chewing gum and sticky candy like toffy.
- Spicy food that can aggravate your mouth.
- Acidic foods like oranges or lemons.
- Hot drinks like coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
- Carbonated drinks, including soda and seltzer.
- Some fruit juices (that are high in sugar or very acidic).
- Fruit juices could slow down the healing process, so try not to consume too many of them.
- Alcohol. Wine and spirits can delay the healing.
- Cookies or crackers.
- Deli meats.
- Poultry that is tough to chew.
- Hard or crusty breads.
- Fruit with small seeds that can get stuck in the wound.
You will likely be able to eat normally around 7 days after surgery, depending on how your mouth has healed and the amount of pain you still experience. Read more about what not to do and why.
Managing pain while eating after wisdom teeth removal.
While healing, your mouth will be sore even if you take pain medication. Eating soft or liquid foods could cause some discomfort or pain, and you might still need to chew a little bit. Try to keep the food away from the back of your jaw and chew with your other teeth if you need to.
Start with fluid and then move on to very soft food that doesn't need to be chewed. You can then gradually introduce firmer or harder foods as your pain subsides. You can start eating solid or harder foods again once your wisdom tooth extraction sites have healed and you have very little to no pain.
Try to eat relatively soon after taking your pain medication before the medication has worn off, and you may start to feel pain again. This will allow you to eat a relatively good amount of food with moderate to low discomfort.
What if eating even soft foods is too difficult or painful after wisdom tooth surgery?
Suppose you find it extremely difficult to eat soft foods after your wisdom tooth removal surgery. In that case, you could stick to consuming liquids until the pain subsides a bit, and you can bare eating soft foods. Drinking soups or smoothies will give you plenty of nutrients while also helping you to stay hydrated. Boost these with fruits or veggies that are high in nutrients and add some protein while trying to keep the sugar content low.
Remember that you might become constipated if you do not consume fiber for a day or two. Speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.
If the pain persists and eating is painful even after the first couple of days, contact your dentist or oral surgeon to rule out any potential postoperative problems.
What are some other things that will help recovery?
Gently pressing a cold pack, cold cloth, or ice wrapped in a cloth to your face can help reduce the swelling resulting from wisdom teeth surgery. Heat, on the other hand, can do the opposite and increase your swelling.
You will likely need to use over-the-counter pain medication like paracetamol or ibuprofen. In some cases, these two might be prescribed to be taken together because they work slightly differently from each other. It is suggested that ibuprofen may be the best painkiller to take after having your wisdom teeth removed. Your dentist will recommend the best painkillers to take.
Avoid any strenuous activity or exercise for a few days after your dental surgery. This gives your body time to heal and avoid the possibility of dislodging the blood clots in your tooth sockets.
Sucking on anything could cause negative pressure inside your mouth. This, in turn, can dislodge the blood clot(s) that has formed on your extraction site(s). Sucking includes drinking from a straw and dragging on a cigarette. Avoid doing this for at least the first 24 hours but up to a week. It is recommended that you wait at least 72 hours before smoking and at least a week if you chew tobacco.
You can gently rinse the area where the teeth were pulled with antiseptic mouthwash about 24 hours after you had your wisdom teeth removed. Avoid doing this sooner to give the site some time to settle and heal. After this period, you can rinse your mouth regularly with an antiseptic mouthwash or lukewarm saltwater to maintain good oral hygiene. Rinsing your mouth is particularly important to remove any leftover food particles after eating. Rinsing with lukewarm salt water promotes good dental care and can help reduce soreness and inflammation in your gums. It can also speed up your healing.
You might feel better sitting or lying with your head elevated. Try using an extra pillow or two to prop up your head while you are lying down.
In some cases, your doctor or dentist might advise you not to blow your nose and, if you need to sneeze, to do so with your mouth open.
Help your loved one's recovery be a little more comfortable with Spoonful of Comfort.
Spoonful of Comfort can help you share the love by sending your loved one a special care package to help them feel better while they recover from wisdom tooth surgery. Better yet, send yourself one!
The Get Well Soon Gift Package has everything your loved one needs to, well, get well soon. It comes with 4 to 6 servings of a soup of your choice with half a dozen bacci rolls, 6 soft and chewy cookies, and a shiny ladle to dish up their soup.
Choose from Chicken Noodle, Chicken and Wild Rice, Garden Vegetable, Tomato Basil, Italian Wedding, or Broc Cheddar soup.
For dessert, you can send your loved one soft and chewy Chocolate Chip, Triple Chocolate Chunk, Snickerdoodle, Oatmeal Raisin, Lemon, or Ginger Spice cookies. While your loved one will not be able to eat cookies immediately after their surgery, it will give them something delicious to look forward to. You could also choose to omit them from your gift package. Gluten-free and vegan options for the soups, rolls, and cookies are also available.
Your Get Well Soon Gift Package will be wrapped in bright and cheerful packaging and delivered directly to your loved one's door. We will also include a note card with a personal message from you.
If your loved one is vegan or gluten-free, you could send them the Gluten-Free Soup Gift Package. This package also includes soup, dinner rolls, cookies, and a ladle. You can choose between Chicken and Wild Rice, Garden Vegetable, or Tomato and Basil Soup. The chocolate chip cookies and rolls are both gluten-free and vegan.
The Peace and Pampering Care Package will make them feel spoiled. It is no surprise that some have even referred to this package as 'Bundled Love.' The Peace and Pampering Care Package includes a super soft comfort throw and cozy socks. Pure goat milk hand cream and lip balm will leave their hands and lips feeling soft and moisturized. The tea trio and lavender fields candle will soothe their soul, while the coloring book and pencils will help them calm their mind. The Peace and Pampering Care Package also includes a personalized note from you. This package is sure to make your loved one's recovery from wisdom tooth removal surgery more pleasant.
Spoonful of Comfort's Total TLC Package includes the best of both: comfort food and comforting things. There are four to six generous servings of soup, half a dozen bacci rolls, and half a dozen soft and chewy cookies. You can choose from Chicken Noodle, Chicken and Wild Rice, Garden Vegetable, Tomato Basil, Italian Wedding, or Broc Cheddar soup. Our soft and chewy cookie flavors include Chocolate Chip Triple Chocolate Chunk, Snickerdoodle, Oatmeal Raisin, Lemon, and Ginger Spice. Gluten-free and vegan options are also available.
The comforting things in the Total TLC Package include a cozy comfort throw, Warm Fuzzies warm or cool pack, and a bedside bell that your loved one can ring when they need something.
You can also check out our other get well gift ideas after surgery.
Having your wisdom teeth removed, whether under local or general anesthesia, is considered major surgery. Your body will need to heal and rest after the procedure, and you will have to make some changes to your diet to ensure that you get all the nutrients your body needs while it is recovering.
Liquids like smoothies and soups will help you maintain your strength while keeping you hydrated after your wisdom teeth removal surgery. They also have plenty of nutrients to help with wound healing. Once you are ready, you can move on to soft foods. Give yourself and your body plenty of time to recuperate, and you will soon be eating those solid, hard, crunchy foods that you love – pain-free.