If you’ll be getting a dental implant soon, or you’ve already received one, you may wonder what you should eat while healing and recovering from surgery. In this blog, we’ll discuss our dietary recommendations as well as a few other healing and recovery tips that you would need to know.
Dental Implant Surgery
Dental implant surgery is a major procedure that can provide lasting benefits for oral health. It may be used to replace missing or damaged teeth or restore your smile’s appearance. The procedure involves surgically placing artificial implants into the jawbone and then attaching a specially designed crown or bridge on top of them.
Before the Procedure
The process of getting dental implants usually takes multiple visits with a dentist or surgeon. During these visits, you will discuss what kind of implant is right for you and get instructions on how to care for your new teeth after the procedure is complete. You will also receive information about anesthesia options and what to expect during recovery.
The planning process for dental implants may involve a variety of specialists, including a doctor who specializes in conditions of the mouth, jaw, and face (oral and maxillofacial surgeon), a dentist specializing in treating structures that support the teeth, such as gums and bones (periodontist), a dentist who designs and fits artificial teeth (prosthodontist), or occasionally an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist.
Because dental implants require one or more surgical procedures, you must have a thorough evaluation to prepare for the process, including a:
- Comprehensive dental exam. You may have dental X-rays and 3D images taken and have models made of your teeth and jaw.
- Review of your medical history. Tell your doctor about any medical conditions and any medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supplements. If you have certain heart conditions or orthopedic implants, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics before surgery to help prevent infection.
- Treatment plan. Tailored to your situation, this plan takes into account factors such as how many teeth you need replacing and the condition of your jawbone and remaining teeth.
- Type of anesthesia. To control pain, anesthesia options during surgery include local anesthesia, sedation, or general anesthesia. Talk to your dental specialist about which option is best for you.
During the Procedure
Dental implant surgery is usually an outpatient surgery performed in stages, with healing time between procedures. The process of placing a dental implant involves multiple steps, including:
- Damaged tooth removal
- Jawbone preparation (grafting), when needed
- Dental implant placement
- Bone growth and healing
- Abutment placement
- Artificial tooth placement
The entire process can take many months from start to finish. Much of that time is devoted to healing and waiting for the growth of new bone in your jaw. Certain steps can sometimes be combined depending on your situation, the specific procedure, or the materials used.
After the procedure
After surgery, it is important to rest and avoid strenuous activities while your body heals. Depending on the type of dental implant you get, you may need to wait up to three months before they are fully functional. It is important to follow all directions from your doctor carefully to ensure proper healing and minimize risks associated with the surgery.
A procedure like this can take a toll on your body. After your surgery, you will need to take care of yourself and eat the right foods to help your body heal. There are a few things that you should start eating after your surgery and a few foods that are good for you.
Some good foods to eat after your surgery include:
- Soft fruits like bananas and applesauce. Aim for nutritional drinks that have high calcium content to ensure healthier teeth. In addition, when choosing fruit smoothies, try to consume citrus fruits (e.g., oranges, grapefruits, etc.) in moderate amounts. Although they are excellent sources of vitamin C (a key nutrient for gum health), citrus fruits are highly acidic, which can damage tooth enamel.
- Cereals. Cooked cereals are an excellent choice for nutritious, easy-to-chew nourishment. Consider oatmeal topped with finely mashed blueberries, grits with melted soft cheese, or cream of wheat topped with a pat of butter and cinnamon.
- Soft vegetables like cooked carrots or spinach. Leafy greens such as kale and spinach pack a one-two punch for oral health: They’re easy to chew when cooked to a soft texture, and they contain abundant levels of calcium, which is one of the primary nutrients for healthy teeth. Try sautéing kale, spinach, or a combination of both, in olive oil or clarified butter for a delicious and nutritious recovery food.
- Protein shakes or smoothies. You don’t have to feel abandoned if you’re a meat lover. As long as you choose tender, moist meat (e.g., chicken, turkey, or beef) that you can blend with potatoes or vegetables in a food processor, you can still create a savory meal that your tender gums and teeth will appreciate. Also, consider soft-cooked fish such as salmon, cod, or halibut, which are not only easy to chew but also contain nutrient-rich Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce the inflammation that contributes to swollen gums.
- Potatoes. Who doesn’t love a pile of mashed potatoes with gravy and butter? This is a great side dish or even a full meal! Sweet potatoes are an excellent recovery food, not only because they can be easily boiled and mashed for optimal “chewability,” but they are also rich in vitamin C, which, as mentioned earlier, is essential for gum health.
- Liquid diet. This includes smooth soups (nothing too chunky), home-cooked broths and bouillon, meal replacement drinks, protein drinks, fruit smoothies, and various juices.
- Eggs. If you would like to have a more savory breakfast, choose scrambled eggs with soft cheese. Not only is this delicious and easy to chew, but it also has powerful nutritional benefits for oral health. Bear in mind that eggs are an excellent source of phosphorus, a mineral that plays a vital role in maintaining healthy teeth. In addition, egg yolks are rich in Vitamin D, which facilitates the absorption of calcium in order to keep your teeth healthy and strong.
Eating the right foods after your dental implant surgery is important for healing properly. Be sure to talk to your doctor or surgeon about what you should and shouldn’t be eating before making any decisions.
In addition, be sure to practice good oral hygiene habits like regular brushing and flossing at least twice per day to protect your investment in dental implant surgery.
What to Avoid
There are definitely some foods you’ll want to avoid after your dental implant surgery, including the following:
- Hard foods – Don’t chew on nuts, ice, hard candy, or other hard foods, as this could damage your implant.
- Hot drinks and alcohol – After dental implant surgery, it is important to avoid drinking hot drinks and alcohol. These beverages can increase swelling and bleeding around the area where the implant was inserted. This can cause infection or other complications with healing, which may require additional medical attention.
- Crunchy foods – You should avoid crunchy foods like chips and popcorn to make sure you heal quickly.
- Tough & chewy foods – Very tough, chewy foods like jerky, steak, and raw vegetables are not usually a good choice after surgery.
- Spicy foods – Very spicy foods will irritate your surgical site and cause pain and discomfort. Avoid these foods until your mouth has healed.
- Dairy products – Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream, and other such dairy products are a great way to get some protein into your diet after surgery. However, dairy can cause an inflammatory response in the oral tissue and is not recommended after you’ve had dental implant surgery.
- Sticky foods – Sticky foods like caramel and taffy require a lot of chewing and can stick to your implant and the surgical site, increasing the risk of infection.
Get enough Nutrition Post-surgery
After your dental implant procedure, you will be incredibly excited to return to your normal diet again. However, it is important to eat appropriate foods during each stage of your healing process and follow the recommendations of expert dentists and oral surgeons.
- Eat regularly. While recovering after the dental implant surgery, eating and drinking regularly are crucial, as this will help you heal more quickly and feel better overall. It will also give you more nourishment and energy.
- Add protein supplements. Many of our patients struggle with getting enough protein. As such, we often advise adding protein supplements to your diet.
- Stick to the post-dental implant diet. The first couple of days after the surgery may be a little uncomfortable, so it is important to follow the soft dental implant recovery diet to ensure that you are not aggravating your healing process.
- If you have diabetes, check your glucose frequently. Maintain your regular eating habits and keep track of your glucose levels. This is important to avoid diabetic-related complications and prevent infection.