As anyone who’s just had oral surgery knows, meals while your mouth heals can be difficult. Foods must be soft and easy to eat, but since healing can take a few days or longer, it is also important that you don’t get bored of limited menu options.
Here are some meal ideas to help you through your post-surgical healing period.
Follow the KISS principle
The KISS principle – striving for simplicity – is great to keep in mind when thinking about what to eat after oral surgery.
For example, you don’t have to radically change your diet during the healing phase. Keep it simple: try easy adaptations to familiar recipes, like adding an extra banana to your daily smoothie, or puréeing a big batch of your favourite chunky soup.
Nausea and fatigue can occur following oral surgery. If this is the case for you, keep it simple: don’t force yourself to make three large meals a day. Smaller, more frequent meals can be gentler on a queasy digestive system and re-energize you more consistently following fatigue.
One final meal preparation tip to keep it simple: lightly spiced foods should be your rule of thumb. Spices can cause irritation to your oral tissues and in some cases delay healing. Steer clear of heavy, spicy, or strong seasonings.
Make friends with whole foods
If possible, eat whole foods and make food from scratch while you heal rather than purchasing pre-prepared items.
The time spent preparing your own meals will pay off with increased nutritional value, which will provide more energy and aid your body in the healing process. Also, if you find it’s difficult to eat enough to maintain your weight, you will be even more challenged to keep weight on while recovering from oral surgery, and eating whole foods will help you make every bite as nutritious as possible.
Nurture your soft side
To heal properly, you will need to maintain a soft food diet. Happily, this means that many comfort foods you ate as a child can nourish you now.
Soft veggie purées can be both nutritious and satisfying. Top mashed cauliflower, potato, sweet potato, parsnip, carrot, beet, turnip, or rutabaga with a pat of butter, margarine, sour cream, or plain yogurt for additional comfort food heaven. A bonus: these veggies be made ahead in big batches and reheated.
Puréeing stewed fruits are another winning choice. Beyond plain applesauce, try mixing fruits like apples, peaches, and mangoes together for new flavor combinations.
Scrambled eggs, Greek yogurt, hearty oatmeal – there are many soft foods that can both satisfy your hunger and go easy on your mouth.
Just about any vegetable can be made into a soup, which makes this a highly nutritious food choice for surgical recovery. Make sure to cook the veggies until they are tender and soft, then mash or even puree in a blender to make your soup easy on your healing tissues.
One caution: don’t eat that soup when it’s piping hot. Thermally hot foods can irritate your sensitive oral tissues, bring about even more discomfort, and increase the flow of blood which can cause your surgical site to bleed. Add an ice cube to hot soup to help it cool down quickly, or place your bowl of soup in the freezer for several minutes.
Pick your protein
Following surgery, the body uses protein to repair tissue, slow muscle catabolism, and decrease the inflammatory phase. Keep up your protein intake to help your body recover as quickly as possible.
As meat tends to be more difficult to chew, it’s good to know there are numerous non-meat protein sources. Toss a can of beans, chickpeas, or lentils into your soups before puréeing. Add a scoop of protein powder to your morning smoothie. Drizzle cheese sauce on your steamed broccoli. Substitute tofu for virtually any meat in your favourite marinated recipes. By making some simple changes to things you already eat, you can easily consume enough protein.
If you not keen on a meat-free diet, make sure any meat you try is soft, lukewarm, and tender. Cut all meat into very small pieces and chew away from your surgical site. Also, if you find that meat (or any food) requires excessive chewing, consider switching to other easier-to-eat options until you have fully healed.
It may come as some relief that the mouth is one of the fastest healing parts of the human body. Proper care after oral surgery, including following an appropriate diet, will help your mouth heal quickly and cleanly.
Make sure you heed your dental professional’s advice on how long you should modify your diet. Moving too quickly could result in longer healing times and even complications.