When you’re recovering from oral surgery, it’s important to give your body what it needs to heal. This includes plenty of fluids and physical rest, but it also extends to nutrition. And since it’s equally important to protect the surgical sites inside your mouth, it can sometimes feel a bit tricky to put together a menu of tasty post-surgical foods.
NYC oral surgeon Dr. Ghazal Mahjoubi says it’s important to stick to soft foods that are high in protein, especially in the first few days after a procedure. Always follow the instructions provided by your surgical team. And contact the office if you ever have questions about any part of the recovery process.
How to choose the best foods to eat after oral surgery
Here are some tips for selecting delicious, nourishing foods to eat during your recovery from oral surgery. Stock up on your favorites before your procedure!
Time it right: When to eat what
In the first few hours after you go home, you’ll likely still be feeling numbness in your mouth and face. It’s completely normal for this to last up to 12 hours after surgery, but it requires some additional care when it comes to eating. Avoid hot foods that could burn you in the absence of full sensation. And don’t eat anything that requires chewing as it’s easy to accidentally bite a numb tongue or cheek.
For the next few days — the exact timeline will depend on your procedure and your oral surgeon’s instructions — stick to soft foods that you can swallow without chewing. This is important not just to protect your healing mouth, but also because your chewing muscles can be sore for several days after surgery.
You may find that cold foods soothe any lingering soreness, but don’t try to subsist on ice cream and Jell-O alone! Mixing up your menu will give your body more of the energy and nutrients it needs to heal.
Pack in the protein
Because protein contains the building blocks our bodies use to repair tissues, it’s a vital part of the healing process. Fortunately, there are many delicious, protein-packed foods that are great for oral surgery recovery, such as:
- Soft-scrambled eggs — Add a little shredded cheese for a flavor and protein boost.
- Yogurt — Can be especially beneficial if you’ve been prescribed antibiotics.
- Oatmeal — Opt for instant oatmeal, which is a bit softer than rolled or steel-cut oats.
- Refried or pureed beans or hummus — Without chips.
- Cottage cheese
- Pre-made protein shakes
After a few days, you might try some cooked salmon or macaroni and cheese — but wait a bit longer for that authentic al dente pasta. And wait at least a week before trying any tough, crunchy, or spicy foods.
Get your fruits and veggies
While biting into a crisp apple is NOT a good idea after oral surgery, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables, such as:
- Fruit smoothies — Avoid strawberries and blackberries, as their seeds can get stuck in your gums.
- Pureed soups — Tomato, pumpkin, butternut squash and black bean are all delicious!
- Avocado — But skip the toast.
- Mashed potatoes
- Banana “ice cream” — Freeze banana slices overnight, then pulse them in your food processor until they look like soft serve!
Sip without the straw
Whether you’re enjoying a smoothie, some lukewarm chamomile tea or a hydrating glass of water, it’s best to skip the straw for at least 5-7 days — especially if you’ve had a tooth extraction.
The suction created by drinking with a straw — or even smoking — can compromise the blood clot and cause dry socket, which can be quite painful. It’s also best to avoid alcoholic or carbonated beverages after surgery.
As your mouth heals and pain and soreness decrease, it’s OK to start eating more items from your normal diet. Be sure to clean your mouth as directed by your oral surgeon and follow all the guidelines for a speedy recovery!