Getting dental implants can be an exciting time knowing that once you are through the healing process you may not only have an aesthetically restored smile, but you’ll have missing teeth replaced allowing you to bite down with more ease and enable you to eat all sorts of food that were avoided before the procedure.
However, dental implant recovery can be a process and may be particularly challenging when it comes to what you can and can’t eat. Typically, people are advised to eat soft foods the days and weeks after the surgery. Following a soft food diet will allow your mouth to heal, specifically allowing the implant to correctly integrate into the jaw. Soft foods reduce pressure from chewing and biting down on the site as well as lessening the likelihood of small particles of hard foods getting caught in the treated area.
Dental implant surgery can vary from one implant to a few implants to an entire mouth full of them. So, please follow your dentist and care team’s guidance on how long you are to be on a soft foods diet after. If awaiting the oral surgeon’s guidance and eager to know more about healing time, this Mayo Clinic article helps breakdown the ins and outs of dental implants.
As a dental dietitian, the purpose of this post is to help people figure out the best soft foods to eat after dental implants as well as give you some tips on how to nourish your recovery while making the process as easy as possible. Whether you are about to get dental implants or are looking to support a loved one who is, this article will help provide some guidance on how to navigate the post-operation soft foods diet and eat up for enhanced healing.
What To Eat Immediately After
Right when you arrive home from your surgery through the day or two following, your surgeon and care team may advise you to be on a strictly liquid diet during this time. Now, you may be pretty hungry and it can feel limiting having to only sip on liquids while curbing your appetite.
If you are instructed to be on a liquid diet, fear not, there are plenty of liquid foods that can be filling as well as nutritious. After undergoing dental implant surgery, nutrition can help support optimal healing. At this time, focusing on nutrition that supports bone and tissue repair and regrowth is important for implant success. Try focusing on meals and snacks packed with nutrients such as, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, vitamin D and potassium.
Here are some liquid nutrient packed meal and snack options to enjoy:
- Bone broth
- Lukewarm chicken noodle soup
- Lukewarm tomato soup
- Lukewarm miso soup
- Pineapple, banana, kale protein powder smoothie
- Peanut butter, banana, kefir, milk, chocolate protein powder smoothie
- Liquid meal replacement drinks
- Unsweetened applesauce with added collagen powder
- Lukewarm green tea
- Lukewarm turmeric milk tea or latte
Some of the meal and snack ideas listed above tend to be on the acidic side, which can harm enamel. To learn more about the pH of foods and how they can help or hurt teeth, refer to Dental Meal Plan’s other post “Alkaline Acid Food Chart“. After consuming tomato soup, applesauce or smoothies try washing everything down with a few sips to a cup of water.
What To Eat The Next Few Days After
Now that the first 24 to 48 hours have passed, the dentist or oral surgeon may advise that it is okay to come off a full liquid diet and onto a soft foods diet. Soft foods diet can last anywhere from a few days to two weeks. How long the solely soft foods diet last depends on your unique situation, so please confer or follow the care team’s information.
Again, eating a nutritious diet during the recovery process matters as it helps support optimal healing and could potentially lead to getting off the soft foods diet and back to your favorite crunchy, chewy foods. Try to consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources to ensure you are ingesting an array of nourishing nutrients.
While on a solely soft foods diet, to make certain that the surgical site heals well, try to avoid consuming meals and snacks that contain seeds, small nuts or other medium to small chopped-up foods that could get stuck in the surgery area.
Here are some meal ideas filled with healing vitamins and minerals:
- Tofu dark chocolate pudding topped with crushed pineapple
- Chocolate protein powder banana nice cream
- Tuna salad with steamed or microwaved softened vegetables
- Omega-3 fortified scrambled eggs with melted cheese
- Chicken salad with a side of softened vegetables
- Bean-based pasta with olive oil or low-acid pasta sauce with softened vegetables mixed in
- Chicken or chickpea masala with softened vegetables mixed in
- Mashed yellow or sweet potatoes with cheese, softened vegetables and finely chopped meat mixed in
- Overnight oats with kefir, milk fortified with vitamin-D, collagen powder, finely chopped seedless fruits
And, here are some soft food nutrition-packed snack ideas:
- Crushed pineapple with whipped cream and shredded coconut
- Greek yogurt with pureed fresh blueberries
- Mashed avocado with finely diced cherry tomatoes mixed in
- Hummus with softened vegetables
- Cheesy grits
Along with these foods drinking plenty of water as well as teas filled with antioxidants can help support a smooth recovery period.
What To Eat One To Two Weeks After
At this point in the healing process, you are nearing full recovery, almost back to normal texture, and food consistencies and can now follow more of a semi-soft foods diet. A semi-soft foods diet can include foods that may require minimal to low chewing, yet still avoids sticky, crunchy, hard foods. Although the end of the healing process is near, it is still pivotal to consume nutrient-dense foods that support the immune system, tissue and bone regrowth.
Here are some semi-soft meal ideas:
- Peanut butter and jelly on seedless soft bread
- Sautéed spinach or kale with rotisserie chicken, gravy and mashed potatoes
- Sautéed chopped mushrooms with turkey, gravy and stuffing
- Baked salmon or cod with cubed, roasted sweet potatoes and sautéed leafy greens
- Turkey, cheese, lettuce, tomato sandwich on soft, seedless whole wheat bread
- Pasta with meat sauce
- Vegetable burger on a seedless, soft whole wheat bun with baked beans and cooked green beans
As far as semi-soft snacks, here are some suggestions:
- Hummus with softened pita bread
- Peanut butter banana dark chocolate bites
- Sliced turkey and cheese wrapped in lettuce
- Half a tuna salad sandwich on soft, seedless whole wheat bread
Of course, these are just some ideas, the focus during this time should be to get readjusted to minimal chewing and maybe even being able to eat some of your favorite foods you’ve had to omit since the procedure.
Foods To Avoid During Recovery
I get it, knowing that there are just some foods you should avoid during the entire implant recovery time can feel limiting. But, keep in mind these foods can harm healing and if continually consumed after the surgery could even contribute to an unsuccessful outcome. So, remember these foods are just temporarily on hold.
Try to avoid the following (not an all-inclusive list):
- Hard candies
- Chewy meats
- Hard to bite down on vegetables such as celery and carrots
- Hard to bite down on fruits such as apples and pears
- Spicy foods
- Hot foods
- Extremely acidic foods
More Tips For An Easy and Healing Recovery
Now that there’s an understanding of what food texture and consistencies to eat when to eat them during the recovery process as well as what foods to avoid, there are still a few other tips that may help add a little bit more smoothness to the process. Here they are, in no particular order:
Tip #1 Meal plan
The saying failure to plan is planning to fail, must exist for a reason. Having some meals and snacks prepped or made and ready to grab before the surgery can make coming home and relaxing, that much more enjoyable and gives one less thing to think about with a sore mouth.
Meal planning doesn’t have to entail hours upon hours cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Try prepping some ingredients or meals and snacks the days before your surgery to have on hand for the next three to five days after surgery. Prepping can include just washing and cutting up some foods to cooking and making full meals.
Planning often makes grabbing healthier choices when you are hungry an easier decision. It all depends on what you have time for, even a little prep here and there can help reduce time spent making food while trying to recover.
Tip #2 Stay Hydrated
Yes, eating nutrient-packed foods is important for fueling a strong recovery, hydrating is also just as important. So, ensure you drink plenty of water during this time.
Tip #3 Not every meal and snack needs to be healthy, balance it out
No, ice cream and milkshakes do not need to be omitted while healing to ensure a speedy recovery. It’s all about balance, try to eat healthy of the time, while also including your favorite soft food treats like a strawberry milkshake or chocolate ice cream.
Tip #4 Coffee is okay, in a certain way
If you are a coffee lover, fear not you don’t have to completely take it out of your diet for weeks while on the mend. However, coffee is acidic and tends to be drunk either iced cold or hot, both can irritate the surgical site. So, try to consume coffee at a luke-warm temperature and if you enjoy black coffee try to drink some water after it.
Eating soft foods after a dental implant procedure doesn’t have to be boring, bland and limiting. There are plenty of healing soft foods that are tasty and packed full of nutrients. Be mindful, this time isn’t going to be your new food texture and consistency normal. It last just a short period and then you can be back to enjoying the foods you love. Plus with these new implants and teeth, you may even be able to eat foods that you’ve avoided before the surgery.
Eating well to heal well is a factor when it comes to a speedier recovery. However, having optimized nutrition for implant success before you go into surgery can help establish adequate nutrition stores to utilize while on the mend. Depending on your situation, lifestyle and health needs how long you need to consume specific nutrients before surgery varies.
As a registered dietitian specializing in dental health, I’ve helped people figure out what to eat before and after surgery to help up their nutrition status. I am here to be a resource, support and guide on dental surgery as well as all things dental nutrition. For questions, inquiries about my work with me services or more information please reach out via the contact page.
Cheers to delicious healing soft foods!
Additional Soft Food Recipe Sources: