"Wisdom teeth," also known as the third molars, often come in impacted or otherwise unfit to stay in the mouth. This is usually a problem between the ages of 17 and 25. Knowing what to eat after wisdom teeth removal, however, depends on the nature of the surgery and how your mouth reacts to the extractions following the procedure.
The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon (AAOMS) recommends patients have their wisdom teeth out if there is active infection present in the form of gum disease or irrepairable tooth decay, or if there are cysts, tumors or pathology present in the area around the tooth. In addition, if an impacted wisdom tooth does damage the neighboring teeth, it's best to extract it rather than wait for it to cause bigger issues. The process of planning usually begins with a dental X-ray to evaluate the areas of interest, and ends with the extraction of one, two or even all four wisdom teeth.
Immediately after Removal
What happens once you leave the dental office? What should you do when your wisdom teeth are finally removed? Whether the teeth erupted through the gums or impacted within the bone (under the gum tissue), you have a bit of recovering to do. Patients generally leave the dental office with wet gauze pressed gently against the areas where the teeth were, with the intent of stimulating a clot to slow the natural bleeding that occurs afterward. This clot is what will eventually morph into the healing tissue, filling the hole in your gum and bone.
Although you may need to change the gauze before removing it altogether, care must be taken not to disrupt the clot itself. If this occurs a patient can experience dry socket, which Mayo Clinic warns can prolong healing and be quite uncomfortable. For this reason, dental professionals will advise you to avoid sucking motions causes by drinking through a straw, as well as smoking, as these actions can indeed hinder the healing clot.
What to Avoid
Regardless of whether the oral surgeon puts you to sleep to extract your teeth, one or more types of anesthetic agents will be used during the procedure. And afterward, it's very important that you do not consume hot foods or drinks while your mouth is still numb.
Be mindful that it's easy to bite your tongue, cheek or lips during this time as well, so you should keep away from chewy foods until your feeling sensation returns. Hard, overly crunchy foods such as chips and hard pretzels – along with small sharp foods like popcorn with hulls – should be put on hold because of their potential for gum tissue damage. As you'd expect, spicy foods should be avoided just as much to decrease further irritation.
What to Eat
Nutrition is very important to the reparative process following dental surgery, especially water. Along with hydration, the National Academy for Biotechnology Information cites the need for vitamins, minerals and protein to maximize wound healing in general. Foods such as yogurt, ice cream and cottage cheese are high in protein and particularly easy to chew and swallow. Applesauce and fruit smoothies are great ways to increase your vitamin intake from fruit; just remember not to use a straw.
Hearty and equally soft foods like scrambled eggs, soft fish, finely cut meats, mashed potatoes, oatmeal and thin soups can keep you filling fuller for a longer amount of time. It's best to stick to these items for four to seven days following your oral surgery.
Keep It Clean
Gentle cleansing and rinsing as directed by your dental professional will ultimately guide the healing process, and using a very gentle and delicately bristled toothbrush around the surgical area after wisdom teeth removal should be priority one. Toothbrushes can be incredibly flexible, with ultra-forgiving, super-thin bristles to gently clean between your teeth and under the gumline without harming the stitched areas or healing tissue.
The extraction of wisdom teeth can prove to be necessary to one's dental health as a person grows. Now that you know what to eat after wisdom teeth removal (and what to stay away from), you'll be on the road to recovery in no time.