It is generally not recommended to eat hard, crunchy foods like chips soon after getting your wisdom teeth removed. The hard pieces can dislodge the clots that form over the extraction sites, causing bleeding and increasing your risk of developing dry socket. Stick to a soft food diet for at least the first few days.
Getting your wisdom teeth removed is a common procedure that most young adults face at some point. While removing the teeth is usually quick and straightforward, the recovery process can take a week or more before you feel completely back to normal.
After the surgery, you will need to be very careful about what you eat. Hard, crunchy, or chewy foods can easily dislodge the blood clots that form in the extraction sites. This exposes the nerves and bone tissue underneath and leads to increased bleeding and severe pain, a condition known as dry socket.
So when that craving hits for something like potato chips or nachos, you’ll need to resist temptation and stick to softer foods until you’ve fully healed. But what exactly happens if you do indulge in crunchy snacks too soon after surgery? Here’s a closer look at the risks and what you can expect.
Increased Risk of Bleeding
Right after your wisdom teeth are removed, the empty sockets fill with blood and special proteins to form clots. These clots act as protective barriers for the underlying nerves and bone tissue. They need several days to stabilize and set.
Hard foods like chips, nuts, seeds, and popcorn can easily dislodge or dissolve these clots before they fully form. This leaves the surgical sites exposed. The damaged nerves and bone tissue bleed easily when disturbed. So if you eat chips or other crunchy foods prematurely, you may notice increased bleeding from the extraction sites.
Pain and Swelling
Along with increased bleeding, losing the protective blood clot barrier will expose sensitive nerves under the gums. This typically leads to throbbing pain and discomfort around the extraction sites. It may also trigger inflammation and swelling.
The pain can range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of the damage. Your gums may also appear red, swollen, and tender to the touch. This inflammation is the body’s natural response as it rushes to protect exposed nerves. The swelling adds pressure on surrounding tissues, worsening the pain.
When the blood clot gets dislodged too early, bacteria and food debris can collect in the open sockets. This increases your risk of developing a localized infection in the extraction site, also known as a dry socket.
An infected dry socket causes intense, radiating pain that gets worse instead of better with time. Foul odor or taste coming from the surgical site, along with fever, are also common symptoms. If the infection spreads, you may experience swelling in the cheeks or lymph nodes under the jaw.
Besides pain and swelling, dry socket can delay the overall healing process. The socket takes longer to close and fill in with new gum tissue. Your dentist may need to clean out the infected site and prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection.
Increased Risk of Dry Socket
Dry socket is perhaps the most troublesome complication that can occur after wisdom tooth removal. As mentioned, it happens when the protective blood clot at the extraction site gets dislodged too soon. The underlying bone and nerves are exposed to air, food, liquids, and bacteria.
Along with infection risk, this can lead to severe, radiating pain that starts a few days after surgery. The pain often gets worse instead of better with time and pain medication does little to relieve it. Bad breath or foul odors coming from the socket are also common with dry socket.
According to experts, dry socket occurs in about 5-30% of wisdom tooth extractions. However, certain factors significantly raise your risk, including:
- Smoking or using tobacco products – these constrict blood vessels and prevent proper clot formation
- Improper oral hygiene – can allow bacteria to infect site
- Drinking through a straw – creates suction that dislodges clots
- Eating hard, crunchy, or overly spicy foods – chips, nuts, seeds, toast, pepper, etc.
- Vigorous mouth rinsing – creates turbulence that can dislodge clots
As you can see, eating chips or other hard foods too soon is one of the main preventable causes of dry socket. The crunchy pieces easily disrupt fragile clots and expose the underlying bone tissue.
Ideal Foods to Eat After Wisdom Teeth Removal
Instead of chips and other crunchy fare, stick to a soft food diet during your initial wisdom teeth recovery. Some good options include:
- Yogurt or pudding
- Mashed potatoes or steamed vegetables
- Broth or blended soups
- Apple sauce
- Cream of wheat or oatmeal
- Jell-O or pudding
- Ice cream, sherbet, or popsicles
- Protein shakes or smoothies
The key is to choose foods that require little to no chewing and easily glide over the surgical sites. This minimizes friction and impact, allowing the blood clots to stabilize and promoting proper healing.
Your dentist will let you know when it’s safe to reintroduce firmer items like breads, tender meats, and cooked vegetables. If you experience increased bleeding, swelling, or severe pain after trying new foods, go back to soft items for a few more days.
Tips to Prevent Complications After Wisdom Teeth Removal
Here are some tips to help prevent bleeding, pain, and other wisdom tooth extraction complications when eating and drinking:
- Avoid all hard, crunchy, chewy, spicy, or acidic foods and beverages.
- Take small bites or spoonfuls and chew on the opposite side from the surgical sites.
- Rinse your mouth gently without spitting or swishing too vigorously.
- Drink lukewarm (not hot) beverages. No straws!
- Wait at least 24 hours before rinsing with mouthwash or salt water solutions.
- Don’t smoke, use tobacco products, or drink alcohol for at least 48 hours.
- Take prescribed antibiotics and pain medication as directed.
The clots seal up the surgical sites in the first 24-72 hours. So it’s critical to baby the area and give them time to properly form. With a little care and patience, you can avoid excess bleeding, infection, and other complications.
What to Do if You Eat Chips Too Soon After Wisdom Teeth Removal
Say you give in to the temptation and crunch down on some chips or another no-no in the first few days after having your wisdom teeth out. Don’t panic, but do take action to minimize any damage and complications.
Here are some steps to take if you accidentally eat chips after wisdom tooth extraction surgery:
- Rinse your mouth gently. Swish some warm salt water or prescription mouthwash around the surgical sites to help flush out any food debris. Spit carefully without excessive force.
- Bite down on gauze. Place clean folded gauze over the extraction site and bite down gently for 20-30 minutes. This applies direct pressure to help control bleeding.
- Use an ice pack. Applying an ice pack to the outside of your cheek near the affected area can also limit swelling and inflammation.
- Stick to soft foods. Avoid any further crunchy, hard foods until the sites have fully closed up and healed.
- Take pain medication. Use over-the-counter pain relievers or your prescribed medication to help manage soreness and swelling.
- See your dentist if symptoms persist. Contact your oral surgeon if you notice excessive bleeding, intense throbbing, or other worrisome symptoms after 48 hours.
Following surgery protocol prepares your mouth for proper healing after wisdom tooth extraction. But if you do slip up with a forbidden food like chips, take quick action to get recovery back on track.
How Long After Wisdom Teeth Removal Can You Eat Chips?
There’s no definitive timeline that applies to everyone for eating chips after wisdom teeth removal. The time varies based on:
- How many teeth were extracted
- Level of difficulty of the extractions
- How quickly you heal
- If you had any complications like dry socket
However, most oral surgeons recommend waiting at least 1 full week before introducing any hard, crunchy, or sharp foods that could impact the surgical sites. Some guidelines include:
Days 1-3 After Surgery
Stick to a liquid diet – Smoothies, milkshakes, broths, Jell-O, ice pops
Days 4-7 After Surgery
Gradually add in soft foods – Applesauce, mashed potatoes, yogurt, oatmeal, pudding, cream of wheat
1 Week After Surgery
Try soft foods that require gentle chewing – Eggs, tender fish, well-cooked pasta, soft fruits and vegetables
2 Weeks After Surgery
Begin reintroducing firmer foods – Toast, chips, pizza crust, meat, raw crunchy vegetables
Don’t rush things by eating chips too soon. Wait until your wisdom tooth sockets have closed up and fully healed internally, even if the external swelling and tenderness has diminished.
It’s always best to check with your oral surgeon when it’s safe to return to your normal diet after surgery. They can examine your individual progress and risk factors to give the green light on enjoying chips and other beloved crunchy foods again.
Getting your wisdom teeth removed is a rite of passage for many teens and young adults. Recovering properly afterward is key to avoiding complications like infections and dry socket.
Hard, crunchy foods like chips are off-limits initially after surgery. Eating them too soon can dislodge the protective blood clots, increasing your risks of bleeding excessively, severe pain, and delayed healing.
Stick to soft, gentle foods and beverages for at least the first 5-7 days. Then gradually reintroduce firmer items over the following week as the extraction sites heal. With a little patience and care, you’ll be back to enjoying chips and other beloved snacks as usual.