Ultimately, dental implants can eliminate dietary restrictions due to missing or severely diseased or damaged teeth. However, it takes several weeks for the implants to fuse with the jawbone and create a strong foundation for biting and chewing. Following surgery, you want to be cautious about what you eat and drink so as not to disturb the dental implant site and disrupt the healing process.
What To Do After Dental Implant Surgery
Although your mouth will be sore, you should not skip any meals. You want to keep eating to maintain your strength and fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to support healing. Not eating may increase nausea, especially after anesthesia and while taking pain relievers.
Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, stay hydrated, and sip directly from a cup or use a spoon rather than a straw. The force of the suction from a straw may dislodge blood clots, increase bleeding, and disturb the surgical site. You should also avoid drinking any carbonated or hot beverages as they can irritate the site.
If you do experience any bleeding, bite down firmly on a piece of damp gauze or a cool, moist tea bag for 30 to 45 minutes, maintaining steady pressure. Repeat as necessary until the bleeding stops.
The Day of Surgery
Your mouth will continue to feel numb for several hours after surgery due to the anesthesia. This can make it difficult to accurately determine the temperature of foods, so focus on consuming things that are lukewarm or cold. Some good foods to start with include:
- Milkshakes (without a straw)
- Pureed soups (warm, not hot)
In the Days and Weeks After Surgery
After the first day or two, you can begin incorporating other soft foods into your diet. As swelling and discomfort decrease, choose foods that do not require much chewing. This will help alleviate pressure on the site and prevent additional bleeding. There are plenty of options to choose from such as:
- Mashed potatoes
- Scrambled eggs
- Well-cooked pasta
- Well-steamed vegetables
- Macaroni and cheese
- Salmon (or other soft, baked fish)
As you start to feel better, you can add other foods as tolerable. It is a good idea to continue avoiding things that are tough or crunchy like pretzels, chips, raw carrots, or steak. Stay away from foods that could become stuck in the surgical site as well such as rice, seeds, nuts, or popcorn. You may be able to resume a fairly normal diet with a few exceptions.
When eating, chew on the opposite side of where your dental implant was placed if possible. It is important to avoid chewing directly on the dental implant as this can interfere with healing and increase risk of complications. What you eat will depend on how many dental implants you received and where they are located. Remember that temporary crowns or flippers are for aesthetic purposes only and should not be used to facilitate eating.
During your follow-up visit, the doctor will examine the surgical site to ensure that everything is healing properly and there are no signs of infection or other complications. They can also give you other options for foods to consider or avoid. Once the dental implant has fully healed and fused with your jawbone, your dentist can attach a permanent crown. At this point, you will be cleared to return to your normal diet.
If you have any questions about dental implant surgery, the recovery process, post-operative instructions, or diet following dental implants, contact Coastal Virginia Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery.