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Updated on October 3, 2022

When Can I Eat Solid Food After a Tooth Extraction?

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When Can You Eat Solid Food After Tooth Extraction? 

Within the first 24 hours after extraction, it is best to eat soft foods. However, you can begin to eat solid foods on the side opposite from the extraction site whenever you feel comfortable doing so. This is because the oral mucosa, which is the skin inside the mouth, has a faster healing time than the rest of the body.

Wound healing consists of four phases:

  • Hemostasis
  • Inflammation
  • Proliferation
  • Tissue remodeling

Hemostasis signals the production of blood clots to prevent further blood loss. It also seals the wound temporarily. Oral wounds heal faster than skin wounds because the saliva in the mouth reduces the clotting time.

The proliferation phase is when cells begin to regenerate strong tissue over the wound. It occurs a few hours to several days after the extraction. By this time, you can safely chew solid food. However, dentists recommend taking small bites at a time until the extraction site has fully healed. This can take a couple of weeks. 

Types of Tooth Extraction

Tooth extractions are either simple or surgical. Dentists perform simple tooth extractions on fully erupted teeth in the mouth. You may need this procedure if your teeth are:

  • Cracked or fractured
  • Untreatable with cavity fillings or root canals
  • Overcrowded 
  • Causing soft tissue trauma to the cheek

Dentists also consider the form of sedation you prefer before proceeding with the extraction. Options include:

  • Local anesthesia
  • Nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
  • Twilight anesthesia
  • General anesthesia

Local anesthesia is injected directly into the surgical site, while twilight and general anesthesia are administered through an IV.

Twilight anesthesia makes you groggy, but you are still conscious during the procedure. General anesthesia completely puts you asleep.

Surgical tooth extractions require making an incision in the gums and removing bone to extract the teeth. You may get this procedure if you:

  • Have an impacted wisdom tooth
  • Have a fractured tooth that is inaccessible without removing bone

Dentists often put people under twilight or general anesthesia for surgical tooth extractions. 

Before dentists recommend a tooth extraction, they need to ensure they’ve exhausted all alternative treatment methods. They also need to make sure people with illnesses have their condition(s) under control. Some of these medical conditions include:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • End-stage renal disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • Adrenal disease
  • Lymphoma
  • Cardiac dysrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)
  • Severe platelet disorders

Pregnant women in the first and last trimester are typically advised to get a tooth extraction, if they need one, after childbirth. Dentists also practice caution when treating people who are on long-term immunosuppressants, corticosteroids, and/or chemotherapeutic medications.

The mouth is full of microorganisms, so immunocompromised people are at risk of postoperative infections. Dentists will often use antibacterial or antiseptic mouthwashes before and/or after the procedure.

Tooth Extraction Recovery Timeline

Simple tooth extractions have a quicker recovery time than surgical extractions. You will often only need 1 day of rest until you can resume your typical daily activities.

If you undergo surgical extractions with sedation, you need another person to drive you home. General and twilight anesthesia can make you too groggy to drive or move around safely. You’ll often need 1 to 2 days of rest.

Once the anesthesia wears off, your main concern will be pain management. Dentists often prescribe over-the-counter (OTC) medications for pain relief.

It’s also normal to experience:

  • Swelling
  • Minor bleeding
  • Bruising

Bleeding should only occur during the first 12 to 24 hours after the extraction. Dentists recommend biting on the gauze they put in your mouth post-op for at least 1 to 3 hours. It is important to replace the blood-soaked gauze with fresh gauze frequently. Contact your dentist if the bleeding doesn’t stop.

Swelling can increase over the next 2 to 3 days after tooth extractions. However, it should gradually decrease from there. Contact your dentist if the swelling persists or worsens.

Dentists recommend applying an ice pack on the cheek of the affected tooth immediately after the procedure. Keep the pack on for 15 minutes at a time with a 15-minute break in between. This can reduce swelling.

You can resume light activities at least a day after the procedure. However, you’ll need to wait for 1 to 2 weeks before doing physically demanding activities.

Severe complications after teeth extractions might include:

  • Prickling sensation in the face (paresthesia)
  • Excessive postoperative bleeding
  • Jaw bone necrosis (death of the bone due to lack of blood)
  • Dry socket

Foods You Can Eat During the Healing Process 

Dentists recommend eating soft foods and drinking liquids for at least 24 hours after tooth extraction. These include:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cereals
  • Cheese
  • Smooth soups
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Beans
  • Fruit smoothies without using a straw
  • Protein shakes

On the second  day, you can eat easily chewable foods. These include:

  • Soft boiled, scrambled, and/or poached eggs
  • Fish
  • Bananas
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What Else to Avoid After Tooth Extraction

Avoid applying heat on the face because this can increase swelling. You should also avoid smoking, using straws, or sucking on anything. These actions can dislodge the blood clot that’s keeping the wound closed.

Also avoid blowing the nose and sneezing with the mouth closed. Instead, wipe your nose and sneeze with your mouth open.

You should not spit for 24 hours after theprocedure. However, you can brush your teeth as long as you avoid your extraction socket.

After a day, you can gently rinse with warm salt water after meals to remove any food that may have entered the socket and to speed the healing process. The dentist may also prescribe Peridex mouthwash.

Summary

The two types of tooth extractions are simple and surgical. A simple extraction is performed when the teeth are visible in the mouth. If the teeth are underneath the gum line and are accessible to grasp with an extraction instrument, a dentist must perform a surgical extraction.

Common symptoms after a tooth extraction include minor bleeding, swelling, and bruising. You will also experience some pain and discomfort once the anesthesia wears off.

During the first 24 hours after the procedure, you can only eat soft foods and drink liquids. These include:

  • Dairy products
  • Soft sandwiches
  • Soups
  • Pasta
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Protein shakes

After a few days, you can eat solid foods and resume your regular diet. However, dentists advise taking small bites and chewing gently on the opposite side of the extraction.

6 Sources Cited
Last updated on October 3, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Advice after dental extractions – Information for patients.” Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals, NHS
  2. After Your Oral Surgery.” Patient Education Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, University of Washington School of Dentistry
  3. Mezzomo et al. “Alveolar ridge preservation after dental extraction and before implant placement: A literature review.” Revista Odonto Ciencia Journal of Dental Science, Mezzomo et al., 2011
  4. Politis et al. “Wound Healing Problems in the Mouth.” Frontiers in Physiology, Politis, Schoenaers, Jacobs and Agbaje, 2 Nov. 2016
  5. Types of Tooth Extractions.” Associated Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, AOS
  6. Waasdorp et al. “The Bigger Picture: Why Oral Mucosa Heals Better Than Skin.” Biomolecules, MDPI, 6 Aug. 2021
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