When to Resume Eating Solid Food After Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Tooth extraction is probably not high on your list of recreational activities, but extracting wisdom teeth in as a preventive measure to avoid pain and common complications is, indeed, often the wisest course. In fact, 85% of Americans have their wisdom teeth (the back molars that help grind up food) extracted to avoid common problems that may come from leaving them in.

According to the Smithsonian Institution, human jaws were much wider thousands of years ago, when diets had a high percentage of tough fiber to chew. As we ate more foods that did not require this, our jaws became smaller and the wisdom teeth, which are the last teeth to come in, began causing trouble because of the lack of sufficient space to emerge. They begin to grow at usually 7-10 years of age and start erupting between 17 and 21, though for some this may not be completed until 25, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

This process may be uncomfortable, but manageable, with over-the-counter pain relievers and gently swishing salt water solutions, according to Colgate. But if the pain gets worse, the gums in the back swell, you have difficulty chewing, experience persistent headaches, you feel stiffness in your jaw or neck, or find yourself frequently biting your tongue or cheeks due to bite misalignment, it’s time to consider tooth extraction. Otherwise, the wisdom teeth may start overcrowding and damaging other teeth and lead to periodontal infections because of difficulties in cleaning.

Fortunately, the extraction procedure at Studio Dental Care and recovery can be relatively painless, if sometimes uncomfortable. We have a maxillofacial surgeon and anesthesiologist on our team and a full range of anesthetics for every level of pain sensitivity, including topical solutions, local injections, nitrous oxide, mild and strong pain sedation in pill form, and IV-drips.

Afterwards, you will be given a gauze pad to bite on for 30-60 minutes as a blood clot forms and advised to use a cold pack often and on for a day to keep down swelling. You will also  be given a prescription for pain medication and advised not to eat solid or spicy foods or to drink alcohol for three days, to avoid inflaming or infection the wound. Do drink lots of water, don’t drink anything through a straw, and avoid spitting. Then softer foods like yogurt, ice cream, applesauce, and soups are best for several days, avoiding nuts, popcorn, and sticky foods, before returning to your normal diet.

Dr. Ash is the founder of Studio Dental Care. He earned his Doctorate at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, followed by two General Residencies at New York-Presbyterian / Weill-Cornell Hospital and the UCLA Sepulveda VA Hospital.

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