Getting your wisdom teeth removed is a common procedure that many people undergo in their late teens or early 20s. While wisdom teeth extractions are routine, they are still a surgical procedure that requires proper aftercare for healing. One of the most common questions people have after wisdom tooth extraction is when they can eat crunchy or hard foods again, like chips, nuts, and popcorn.
When Can I Eat Chips After Wisdom Teeth Removal?
The general guideline is to avoid crunchy or hard foods for at least 1-2 weeks after having your wisdom teeth taken out. This allows time for the extraction sites to begin healing and lowers your risk of developing dry socket. Here is a timeline for when you can start eating chips and other crunchy foods again after wisdom tooth surgery:
- 1 week after surgery: Stick to a soft food diet. Avoid chips, nuts, seeds, and other hard or sharp foods that could become stuck in the surgery sites.
- 2 weeks after surgery: You can slowly introduce gentle crunchy foods like chips into your diet. Start with softer varieties like potato chips and tortilla chips. Take small bites and chew slowly on the side of your mouth away from the extraction sites.
- 3-4 weeks after surgery: You should be fully healed and able to eat most crunchy foods including popcorn, nuts, crackers, and veggie chips. Take care when chewing near the extraction sites.
Keep in mind that timelines can vary depending on your individual healing and any complications. If you experience prolonged pain, bleeding, or other issues after surgery, you may need to stick to soft foods for longer before trying crunchy items. When in doubt, ask your oral surgeon when it is safe to add chips and other hard foods back into your post-op diet.
Why You Need to Avoid Hard Foods After Wisdom Teeth Removal
Crunchy or hard foods can be problematic after wisdom tooth extraction for a few reasons:
- They can become trapped in the extraction sockets, leading to pain and infection.
- The vigorous chewing motion can disrupt healing blood clots at the surgery sites.
- They may damage or irritate the tender gum tissue around the extraction sites.
- Hard foods carry a higher risk of accidentally biting or irritating the stitches if present.
All of these factors can increase your chances of developing dry socket after surgery, which occurs when a blood clot dislodges from the socket prematurely. Dry socket leaves the bone and nerves exposed, causing severe throbbing pain that can last a week or more. Avoiding hard, crunchy foods reduces your risk of this painful complication.
Tips for Easing Back Into Eating Chips After Wisdom Teeth Removal
Once your oral surgeon gives you the green light, here are some tips to transition back to your favorite crunchy snacks:
- Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater after eating to help keep food debris out of the extraction sites.
- Start with softer chip varieties (potato, pita, tortilla chips) before trying harder foods like pretzels or crackers.
- Take small bites and chew slowly, being mindful of the healing sites.
- Chew chips on the opposite side of your mouth from the extraction areas.
- Avoid sharp chip edges that could cut the surgical site.
- Stop eating immediately if you feel any intense pain or discomfort.
Let your body be your guide. If certain hard foods cause irritation or pain in your gums or extraction sites, avoid them until you are further along in the healing process. Don’t rush back into eating popcorn, nuts, seeds or other hazardous crunchy foods too soon. Take your time transitioning to reduce your risk of complications.
Foods to Avoid After Wisdom Teeth Removal
In addition to chips and other crunchy foods, here are some other items to steer clear of after wisdom tooth surgery as they carry a high risk of complications:
- Nuts and seeds – Can get trapped in sockets
- Popcorn – Kernels can get stuck and are sharp
- Pretzels – Hard, sharp edges
- Tortilla chips – Can have sharp jagged edges
- Hard candies – Potentially sticky and high risk for biting extraction sites
- Crusty breads – Tough to chew
- Pizza crust – Gets stuck in sockets easily
- Sticky foods – Can pull out blood clots upon removal
Focus on a soft food diet in the 1-2 weeks following surgery. Foods like mashed potatoes, smoothies, applesauce, broths, yogurt, oatmeal and eggs are gentle options as you heal.
Signs You May Be Eating Hard Foods Too Soon
Pay attention to signals from your body that you may be reintroducing crunchy foods too early. Here are some red flags:
- Intense throbbing pain when chewing chips or hard foods
- Sensitivity, soreness or tenderness around the extraction sites
- Bleeding from the surgery site when eating
- Food trapped between teeth and surgical site
- Bad breath, indicating potential food debris trapped in the sockets
- Visible chip pieces or seeds stuck in the extraction area
If you experience any of these symptoms, stop eating the problematic hard foods right away. Stick to soft foods and avoid crunchy snacks until your symptoms subside. Call your oral surgeon if pain or other issues persist.
When to Call Your Oral Surgeon About Diet After Wisdom Teeth Removal
Contact your oral surgeon right away if you experience any of the following after eating chips or other hard foods post-op:
- Intense, throbbing pain not relieved by medication
- Bleeding that won’t stop
- Signs of infection like fever, swelling or foul odor
- Numbness or tingling that doesn’t go away
- Food stuck in extraction site for more than a day
- Suspected dry socket – severe pain starting a few days after surgery
Don’t hesitate to call your surgeon with any questions or concerns after your wisdom tooth extraction. They want to ensure proper healing.
Foods to Eat After Wisdom Teeth Removal
While you have to avoid crunchy chips and hard foods initially after surgery, there are many delicious soft foods you can eat during your recovery:
- Mashed potatoes
- Cooked vegetables – well-steamed carrots, spinach, broccoli, etc.
- Soup – broth-based, not chunky
- Milkshakes – no straw!
- Cottage cheese
- Eggs – scrambled, soft boiled, avocado toast minus the crusts
- Protein shakes – no straw
Focus on getting your nutrition from soft, vitamin-rich foods in the initial healing phase. Then you can work chips and snacks back into your diet.
It’s important to avoid hard, crunchy foods like chips for 1-2 weeks after wisdom teeth removal to allow your mouth time to heal. Prematurely introducing chips and other sharp foods carries a risk of complications like painful dry socket. Have patience and follow your oral surgeon’s instructions for when it is safe to add different foods back into your diet after surgery. When in doubt, stick to soft foods a bit longer, especially if you experience any lingering pain or discomfort around the extraction sites. With proper care after your wisdom teeth extraction, you should be back to crunching on chips and other snacks in no time.