One of the advantages of getting dental implants is that they allow you to replace any missing or extracted teeth, without requiring you to make significant changes to your lifestyle. Patients who have dental implants are generally able to enjoy their favorite foods without discomfort or pain.
Before you reach the point of normal diet, there will be a recovery period, during which you will want to pay special attention to your eating habits. Start off with easier-to-chew foods as your implants heal, then gradually shift toward a more normal diet.
Recovering from Dental Implants
Immediately following your dental implant surgery, you can anticipate a few common side effects, including tenderness, swelling, pain, and some bleeding. These are all normal symptoms of oral surgery.
Most patients find that the worst of these symptoms subside within two or three days. After a week to 10 days, most patients feel more or less back to normal.
It is during this initial recovery window that patients are advised to be cautious about what they eat, and be patient as they build tolerance for eating their usual foods.
Can I Eat Within the Initial 24-48 Hours?
Within the first day or two of recovery, you will want to stick with soft foods and liquids. There are plenty of pureed foods or foods that will not require much chewing, including soups, ice cream, yogurt, puddings, and milkshakes.
Also, be sure that you stay well-hydrated, which is an important way to ensure that your body heals as quickly as possible.
Sticking to a liquid and soft foods diet does not mean skipping meals. In fact, it is important to maintain a healthy caloric intake, providing your body with the sustenance it needs to mount a full recovery.
What Else Can I Eat During Dental Implant Recovery?
There are a number of creative ways to vary your diet as you recover from dental implant surgery. In addition to the liquids and pureed foods mentioned above, you might also consider stocking up on some of these items:
- Softer fruits. Melons and berries are a couple of examples of fruits that are easy to chew, while bananas can easily be mashed to make them more palatable. Applesauce is another excellent choice.
- Eggs. Scrambled eggs, in particular, are easy on the teeth and may provide you with a great way to get some protein.
- Warm cereals. Oatmeal and cream of wheat can be very filling, though avoid eating them while extremely hot, or you may risk irritating your mouth.
- Other soft food items. You might also consider mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, cottage cheese, baked or broiled fish, and soft bread.
As a rule of thumb, it is best to start with liquids and thin purees, working up to some of these more challenging foods as you begin to feel more comfortable.
What to Avoid During Dental Implant Recovery
As you prepare for your dental implant recovery, it is important to know what to eat but also what not to eat. Here are a few things to avoid:
- Anything spicy. Eating spicy foods can cause inflammation, which will not only be uncomfortable but may also exacerbate your swelling.
- Hot foods. We recommend staying away from hot temperatures for a couple of days. If you prefer soup or broth, consume them while they are close to room temperature.
- Nuts and hard foods. Even something as seemingly innocent as popcorn can cause trauma and potentially damage your artificial teeth.
- Small foods. Rice often seems like a good idea, but actually, grains of rice can get stuck in the surgical site, leading to complications or discomfort. The same goes with sunflower seeds, nuts, etc.
- Alcohol. Alcohol will not upset your implants per se, but it may slow down your recovery process.
- Coffee. A little bit of caffeine is probably not going to hurt you but overdoing it may delay your physical recovery.
- Drinking from a straw. After any kind of oral surgery, resist drinking from a straw for at least two or three days. The suction can sometimes cause damage to your mouth, specifically by dislodging a blood clot, and result in dry socket.
- Tobacco products. Smoking or using any other kinds of tobacco products can impede your healing. Avoid smoking for several weeks before your surgery as well as after.
By following these basic steps, you can ensure that your dental implant recovery is as safe and as successful as possible.
Resuming a Normal Diet
Over the course of that first week, you may gradually shift toward a more regular diet as you regain full sensation in your tongue and as symptoms like inflammation and pain decrease. There is no specific timeline for when patients begin eating like normal, though for most patients, it is within a week to 10 days. It largely comes down to your own personal comfort level.
What Else Can I Do to Recover?
In addition to following these nutritional guidelines, there are a few other things you can do to expedite your recovery.
- Control pain with either the prescription medications or OTC pain relievers recommended by your surgeon.
- Take antibiotics as directed.
- Use ice packs at 30-minute intervals to keep the swelling under control.
- Avoid brushing or using mouthwash for the first 24 hours.
- After the first 24 hours, resume brushing gently. Use saltwater rinses to further promote oral hygiene.
Are You a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?
Following the recovery period, your dental implants will allow you to chew and speak as normal. This is one of many reasons why implants represent a popular way to address missing teeth.
If you have questions about dental implants, we would love to talk with you. Contact our Naperville, IL practice to speak with one of our doctors about your eligibility for dental implants.