Dental implants have transformed the field of dentistry, offering a permanent solution to tooth loss while restoring both the aesthetics and functionality of a smile. If you’re considering dental implants soon or have recently undergone dental implant surgery, you may be wondering about the best dietary choices to promote healing and ensure a smooth recovery.
In this article, we’ll explore how dental implants restore bite functionality and provide you with a comprehensive guide on what to eat after dental implant surgery.
Understanding dental implants and bite functionality
Dental implants are usually made from titanium and are embedded into the jaw where they integrate with the surrounding bone in a process known as osseointegration.
Depending on the number of implants placed, they will be topped with customised crowns or arches that closely resemble your natural teeth in both appearance and function.
One of the key benefits of dental implants is their ability to restore near-full bite functionality. Unlike removable dentures or bridges, dental implants don’t rely on neighbouring teeth for support. Instead, they mimic the role of a tooth’s root by anchoring firmly into the jawbone.
This stability enables proper biting and chewing, just as we would our natural teeth, allowing us to enjoy a wide variety of foods without restriction.
That said, immediately after surgery and for several weeks thereafter, dental implant patients will need to adopt a softer diet as nutrition plays a significant role in both patient recovery and the success of the implants.
So, what to eat after dental implant surgery?
What you need to know about the dental implant diet
After dental implant surgery, it’s crucial to follow a soft diet during the initial stages of healing. Essentially, a ‘soft diet’ refers to foods that require minimal chewing (if any). Remember, in the early stages of healing, the implants are in the process of fusing with your bone so it’s vital not to apply excessive force to them.
While a soft diet can seem restrictive, the good news is that it’s only temporary. You can choose from a variety of softer foods as you recover from oral surgery. The most important factor is to maintain a well-balanced diet to aid overall healing.
What to eat after dental implant surgery – 3 nutritious food choices
l. Soups and smoothies
In the first few days after surgery, it’s best to stick to liquid meals wherever possible. Smooth soups are an ideal choice and provide a simple way of packing those all-important minerals, vitamins and proteins into your diet. Avoid spicy or chunky soups and crunchy croutons. It’s also important to eat soup warm as opposed to piping hot. If it’s a particularly hot day, you could opt for a cold soup like gazpacho but remember to bring it up to room temperature before eating.
Hot and cold temperatures can irritate the implant site and slow down the healing process.
In addition, fruit smoothies are good and nutritious in moderation. While citrus fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C for gum health, they’re also highly acidic and can damage tooth enamel, so care should be taken.
2. Steamed vegetables
As gums continue to heal, start introducing steamed vegetables into your diet such as broccoli, spinach and cabbage. These are low in calories but high in minerals and vitamins, including potassium, iron, magnesium and Vitamins A, B6, C and K.
As a rule of thumb, darker green vegetables contain more nutrients than lighter green vegetables such as iceberg lettuce. If you don’t have the inclination to prep and steam your veggies, most supermarkets sell bags of pre-cut veg that can be microwaved for convenience.
Try serving them with well-cooked pasta or softly boiled rice and a tasty sauce to make them go down easier.
3. Protein-rich foods
Around week two, we also recommend introducing protein-rich foods which are essential for tissue repair. Try incorporating small portions of poultry, fish and lean meat into your daily diet. You can also get protein from soy products, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds but be careful with nuts or seeds as they could get lodged in the implant site.
Alternatively, consider fish like salmon, herring, and sardines which are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and can help to reduce inflammation that often contributes to swollen gums. If you prefer a fish that is less ‘fishy’ then halibut is a good choice. Incidentally, if you didn’t know, fish is good for your heart too.
So, now you know the foods you can and should eat following oral surgery, what should you avoid?
What not to eat after dental implant surgery
Naturally, you should be looking to avoid hard and chewy foods. These include tough meat like steak, crunchy fruit and vegetables like apples and raw carrots, popcorn and other crunchy snacks and sticky sweets like caramel. These can get stuck to the teeth and dislodge a newly placed implant. It’s also best to avoid alcohol and tobacco as these can delay healing and increase the risk of complications.
Why no dairy after dental implants?
Most dentists advise implant patients to avoid dairy products like yoghurt, milk and cheese for at least three weeks after surgery. This is because they contain high levels of calcium and other potential irritants that can increase the risk of inflammation or infection at the implant site.
So, how long after dental implants can I eat normally?
Your dentist or oral surgeon will want to see you periodically while healing to monitor progress. Chewing hard foods too soon can lead to complications, so it’s best to remain on a dental implant diet until you’re told that successful healing has occurred. Only then should you resume eating the favourite foods you love.
Want to know more about dental implants and whether they’re a suitable treatment for you?Dental implants can be truly life-changing. If you’re missing teeth or struggling with uncomfortable dentures, why not schedule a free dental implant consultation to see if they’re right for you? Call Foxbury Dental on 01858 455 100 or use our online booking service.