Eating Well After Oral Surgery

So, you’ve scheduled an appointment with a periodontist for surgery, possibly a gum grafting procedure, or a crown lengthening. You’ve made the necessary arrangements at work, and are ready to kick back for a day or so with Netflix while you recover. But have you given much thought to what you will eat after surgery?

Normal healing requires adequate nutrition. And good nutritional support following surgery can actually lead to a speedier and more comfortable recovery. Planning in advance what you will eat following surgery will not only aid your healing, but also help you ENJOY the foods you eat while you recover. Don’t wait until surgery is done: plan in advance, and stock your pantry.

From a dietary perspective, there are some key nutrients/foods that can aid your body’s healing process:

  • Your body needs calories and protein to generate new tissue and heal. That means that you need to eat regularly, and not skip meals or consume too few calories. You should look for foods that are high in protein for each stage of the recovery process. Immediately following surgery, you may be advised to restrict your diet to cold liquids. Good sources of protein can be found in dietary supplements such as Instant Breakfast or Ensure, or milkshakes and smoothies. Try adding some protein powder to a smoothie for an extra boost of protein. And who said cold soup isn’t good? A cool cup of creamy tomato soup may be just what your body (and taste buds) want!
  • Make sure and add foods with Vitamin C and Zinc into your food plan. Both work with your body in the generation of collagen, and in supporting the immune system. You can add vitamin C-rich fruit and vegetables to a smoothie, and can find zinc in dairy, beans, mushrooms, and wheat germ (among others). Vegetable and fruit juices are also good sources of nutrition, and may be just what your body needs.
  • Focus on anti-inflammatory foods. Some foods work with your body to decrease inflammation, while others add fuel to the fire. Eat less refined flours and sugars, and instead choose foods like veggies, fruits, healthy fats, fish, soy, turmeric, and ginger. Fish oil is also known to have anti-inflammatory effects on the body.

Once you’ve passed the “cold liquid” stage, and are ready to move on to soft foods, your choices are not as limited as you may think. There are the obvious choices, which are usually the easiest, and often the best to start with:

  • scrambled eggs: add a splash of salsa if you are feeling daring, and add slices of soft avocado for Vitamin C
  • potatoes, either white or sweet, mashed or baked: maybe a little sour cream, gravy, or butter won’t hurt?
  • soups: tomato, cream of potato, pea, and chicken noodle are all great choices.
  • hot cereal: mom’s Cream of Wheat never tasted so good
  • pudding: whether you buy it or make it, you know you love it
  • And of course: Ice Cream. Enough said.

Feeling daring? Here are some fun ideas:

  • Ever heard of PB&J Yogurt? Top some plain Greek Yogurt with a spoonful of jelly, a larger spoonful of peanut butter, and a sprinkling of wheat germ for zinc. YUM!
  • Try some take-out Pho noodle soup. It’s made with nourishing bone broth, so is warm AND nutritious.
  • Anybody up for pancakes? Add some Nutella and banana to make it a meal.
  • Ready for something more substantial? Try some fork-tender salmon for dinner. Melts in your mouth.
  • If you want to get really creative, check out these soft-food recipes from Pinterest to cook up in advance:

We have a few favorite recipes we like to share with patients. You can find them HERE. Do you have a favorite soft-food recipe you’d like to share? Let us know!