Should I eat before getting my wisdom teeth out?

Getting your wisdom teeth removed is a common procedure that many people undergo in their late teens or early 20s. As your third molars grow in, they may crowd your mouth, emerge partially, or come in at an odd angle causing pain, swelling, or other dental issues. While wisdom tooth extraction is a routine surgery, it’s normal to have questions about the procedure and how to prepare for it. One common question is whether you should eat before getting your wisdom teeth out.

Quick Answers

Here are quick answers to some common questions about eating before wisdom tooth extraction:

– Should you eat before getting wisdom teeth removed? Yes, it’s recommended to eat a light meal before your surgery.

– Why should you eat before wisdom tooth removal? Eating helps avoid feeling nauseated or lightheaded from anesthesia on an empty stomach.

– How long before surgery should you eat? You should eat a light meal 2-3 hours before your scheduled surgery time.

– What should you eat before wisdom tooth extraction? Stick to light, bland foods that are easy to chew and digest like toast, oatmeal, or yogurt.

– Can you drink water before surgery? Yes, you can sip water up until your procedure, but avoid large amounts that will fill your stomach.

– What shouldn’t you eat before getting wisdom teeth out? Avoid heavy foods that are high in fat, dairy, fiber or spice that take long to digest.

Why Eat Before Wisdom Tooth Removal?

It’s recommended to eat a light meal around 2-3 hours before your wisdom tooth extraction for a few important reasons:

Avoid Feeling Lightheaded

Going into any surgery with low blood sugar can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded when anesthesia is administered. Since wisdom tooth removal requires anesthesia, having something in your stomach can help prevent this low blood sugar response. A small meal before your procedure will provide energy and help you avoid feeling faint or disoriented when you wake up from sedation.

Prevent Nausea

Anesthesia commonly causes nausea or upset stomach as a side effect. Having an empty stomach when you go under anesthesia can worsen nausea. Eating a plain piece of toast or other easily digestible food can help coat your stomach and reduce nausea both during and after your surgery.

Recover Faster

The nutrients from a light pre-surgery meal can help your body ease into recovery mode and give you energy post-procedure. You’ll replenish your body and have resources to start healing once anesthesia wears off. Without any food intake before surgery, you may feel weak, shaky, or disoriented when you wake up.

Allow for Medicine Absorption

It’s common to take prescription pain medicine before or after oral surgery. Eating something small allows proper absorption of medication into your bloodstream so it can take effect. Taking pain pills on an empty stomach can irritate the lining and lead to nausea.

What to Eat Before Wisdom Teeth Removal

Stick to light, bland foods in the 2-3 hours leading up to your wisdom tooth extraction. Ideal pre-surgery meals are soft, mild in flavor, and easy to digest. Here are some good options:


A bowl of plain oatmeal is an excellent choice before oral surgery. It provides carbohydrates for energy and is very gentle on your stomach. Stay away from sugary, flavored oatmeal which can cause stomach upset.


Toast made from white or wheat bread is simple to chew and settle in the stomach. Opt for plain toast rather than anything with spreads, butter or jam which can exacerbate nausea.


Bananas are easily digestible and provide potassium to replenish electrolytes you’ll lose during surgery. The soft texture makes it ideal for a pre-surgery snack.


Plain or vanilla yogurt offers protein and probiotics to support your gut. Avoid yogurt with fruit or granola chunks that may be harder to eat or digest beforehand.


Scrambled or boiled eggs are a great option 2-3 hours before surgery, providing protein without much fat or fiber. An egg sandwich on white bread is also very digestible.


Choose an uncomplicated whole grain cereal like Cheerios with milk. Avoid cereals with nuts, dried fruit or complex grains that take longer to breakdown.


The pureed texture makes applesauce easily digestible. Look for unsweetened applesauce without add-ins like cinnamon that may irritate an empty stomach.


Plain rice crackers or saltines provide carbohydrates for energy and have a binding effect to settle the stomach before a procedure. Avoid heavily flavored or coated crackers.

What Not to Eat Before Wisdom Teeth Removal

Stay away from heavy foods that are high in fat, fiber or spice in the hours leading up to oral surgery. Foods that take longer to digest can lead to nausea and discomfort. Here’s what to avoid before getting your wisdom teeth out:

Fried Foods

Greasy, fatty foods like french fries, burgers, fried chicken, and chips are heavy and digest slowly. The fat content can bring on nausea under anesthesia.

Spicy Foods

Skip hot or heavily seasoned foods that contain peppers, chili powder, curry, or other spices. The irritation can unsettle your stomach before surgery.

Raw Fruits/Vegetables

While fruits and veggies are normally healthy, they contain fiber that takes time to break down. Stick to cooked or pureed produce when prepping for surgery.

Dairy Products

Milk, ice cream, cheese, cream and other dairy foods are hard to digest. Plus milk products can increase mucus production before anesthesia intubation.

Red Meat

Fatty cuts of beef, pork, and lamb digest slowly. Processed meats like sausage, bacon, and deli meat also commonly cause nausea when eaten beforehand.


Crunchy nuts and small seeds can be irritating and get lodged in extraction sites after surgery. Save high-fiber nuts and seeds for your recovery diet.


The hulls of popcorn kernels are very fibrous and hard to break down. Popcorn is too harsh and may get stuck where your wisdom teeth get extracted.

Citrus Fruits

While vitamin C is beneficial, acidic citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, and pineapple can interact poorly with anesthesia and irritate your empty stomach.


Foods like baked beans, lentils, chickpeas, and edamame are loaded with fiber. They take a long time to digest so should be avoided before your procedure.

Tough Meat

Steak, beef jerky, and other meats that require extensive chewing are not good meal options when eating beforehand. Stick to ground meats or eggs for protein.

Carbonated Beverages

Fizzy drinks like soda or sparkling water can cause gas to build up, worsening upset stomach from anesthesia. Avoid carbonation before your surgery.

When to Stop Eating Before Wisdom Teeth Removal

It’s generally recommended to stop eating solid foods at least 2 hours before your scheduled surgery time when getting your wisdom teeth extracted. This gives your body time to start digesting so that your stomach is relatively empty by the time you go under anesthesia.

Here are some tips on when to stop eating prior to your wisdom tooth extraction:

Stop solid food intake 6 hours beforehand

Eat a light meal no later than 6 hours before your appointment time. After the 6-hour mark, stick to only clear liquids to avoid anesthesia complications.

Avoid all solid foods at least 2 hours before

Don’t consume any solid foods within 2 hours of your extraction. This ensures your stomach has time to empty before surgery.

Only consume clear liquids up to 1 hour before

Up to an hour beforehand you can have water, black coffee, apple juice and other liquids without pulp, but no solid foods.

Avoid all liquids for 30 minutes before anesthesia

Stop the intake of clear fluids 30 minutes before your procedure. This prevents vomiting since your stomach needs to be as empty as possible before intubation.

If given other instructions, follow your surgeon’s advice

Some oral surgeons may recommend stopping food even earlier, like 8-12 hours beforehand. Always follow your provider’s pre-op guidance over general rules.

Table: Summary of What to Eat Before Wisdom Teeth Removal

Time Before Surgery What You Can Eat
6+ hours before Light meal, avoid heavy foods
2-3 hours before Light bland foods like toast, crackers or oatmeal
1 hour before Clear liquids only like water, black coffee or apple juice
30 minutes before Nothing at all, no liquids or solids

Tips for Eating Before Your Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Follow these tips when planning your light pre-surgery meal:

– Stick to soft, mild foods around 2-3 hours beforehand
– Opt for easily digested carbohydrates and protein like oatmeal or eggs
– Drink water to stay hydrated but avoid large amounts right before surgery
– Eat slowly and chew thoroughly to avoid discomfort
– Avoid spicy, fried, fatty or gas-producing foods
– Don’t lie down after eating to prevent reflux
– Brush teeth after eating but avoid alcohol mouthwash before surgery
– Follow your oral surgeon’s recommendations for when to stop eating
– Allow time for food to digest so your stomach is empty by go-time
– Listen to your body and opt for foods that don’t cause GI distress

The Bottom Line

Preparing for surgery starts with taking care of your body, including what you eat. Having a light meal 2-3 hours before wisdom tooth extraction helps prevent side effects like dizziness and nausea from anesthesia. Stick to easily digestible soft foods and beverages, avoiding anything heavy, fatty, spicy or fibrous. Stop all solid food intake at least 2 hours prior and only consume clear liquids up to 1 hour beforehand so your stomach has time to empty. Following these diet guidelines will help make your oral surgery experience as smooth and comfortable as possible.

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