Dental implants require a surgical procedure, so there will be necessary recovery time, and limited activity should be expected. While the mouth tends to heal more quickly than other parts of the body, expect eating and drinking to be a little different in the period directly after your surgery.
Right After Surgery
Following your dental implant procedure, some moderate pain and discomfort is to be expected, as well as swelling and bruising along your jaw. Your dentist should prescribe or recommend pain management medication or techniques such as hot compresses or ice packs. You may experience some small amount of bleeding immediately after surgery, but always call your dentist if it is prolonged or gets worse.
In addition to changing how you eat and drink for a few days, you’ll also need to change how you care for your mouth and surgery sites until they’re healed.
- Avoid excessive spitting, rinsing, chewing over the implant site, and using a straw for the first 24 hours
- Starting the day after your procedure, you may rinse your mouth with warm salt water as needed — no more than three or four times a day.
- Brush your other teeth and gums, but take care near the surgical site
- Avoid using hydrogen peroxide or devices that spray water in your mouth
- Smoking is not recommended especially during the first 4-6 weeks (about 1 and a half months) after the surgery
- Rest and relaxation will decrease bleeding, so take it easy for the first 24 to 48 hours (about 2 days) after your surgery
- Do not forget to schedule and attend follow up appointments with your dentist, and be sure to call if you have excessive bleeding, swelling, or pain
How Long After Surgery Can I Eat Normally?
Every mouth is different, but most people can expect to get back to normal oral function — that is, eating, drinking, and talking normally — a week to ten days after implant surgery. Recovery time can be affected by what you eat and drink, but also your own individual body’s needs.
Softer diet is recommended during the first 7-10 days (about 1 and a half weeks) after your surgery and it is advisable to stay away from hard and sticky foods such as wasabi almonds, corn on the cob, and caramel popcorn! If you have been living with dentures, or without a dental solution at all before implants, implants might take some getting used to. Or you might just still have some tenderness that will dissipate with time. Either way, gradually transitioning from softer foods to harder foods will help you get the most out of your recovery.
What to Avoid Eating
For the week directly after your surgery, and sometimes up until you are fully healed, there are certain foods that you will need to avoid to keep your recovery moving smoothly:
- Super-hot foods and beverages, which can dislodge clots in your surgery sites and cause dry socket
- Chewy and tough foods like red meat and raw vegetables
- Sticky foods like caramels and dates
- Crunchy foods like popcorn and chips
- Spicy foods like salsa or spicy sauce
- Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges (and be careful with tomatoes)
- Dairy foods like cheese, milk, yogurt, and butter
Once you are fully healed from dental implant surgery, you should be able to eat and drink normally — and maybe even enjoy some foods you have not been able to in a while! Some crown material stains more easily than your natural teeth, so watch your consumption of coffee, black tea, and red wine if you are looking to avoid staining.
Why Should You Avoid Dairy?
Diary has been shown to increase inflammation of oral tissues. (Did you know many professional singers avoid dairy before their performances for this reason?). So, you really should avoid dairy after your dental implant surgery — at least for the first few days.
After your surgery, your mouth will already be very tender and inflamed and consuming dairy will only add to this irritation. Additionally, many people report nausea and vomiting after consuming dairy post-surgery, which you absolutely want to avoid after having major dental surgery.
However, getting plenty of calcium and protein is important post-implant surgery. Your jawbone needs calcium to grow and heal, and protein can speed up healing of other tissues throughout the body, including your mouth. Instead of looking to dairy as a source for these nutrients, try these swaps for the first few days after your implant surgery:
- Instead of dairy milk, add fortified soy milk to your oatmeal or grits, or enjoy a glass on its own
- Look for tofu with calcium carbonate in the ingredients (used as a coagulant to set the tofu) and add to soups and mild curries for extra nutrients
- Make white-bean hummus instead of dairy-based dips and enjoy with soft pita or naan
- Sweet potatoes and squash are soft no matter how you cook them, and are a great source of potassium and vitamins in addition to calcium
If going without ice cream gives you heartache, don’t worry; you should be able to get back to your favorite dairy-full foods once you are healed.
You Deserve to Love Your Smile!
Taking your post-surgery recovery seriously helps make sure that you can enjoy your dental implants for years to come — and all the eating, chewing, talking, and smiling that come with them. Have more questions about dental implants? Read our patient FAQ here or give your local Affordable Dentures and Implants location a call to set up a consultation.