What should you not eat after a root canal?

Getting a root canal can be an unpleasant experience. Once the procedure is over, you’ll likely feel some tenderness and pain around the tooth that was treated. Your dentist will provide post-procedure instructions on what to do and what not to do as you recover. One of the key things you’ll need to pay attention to is your diet. Choosing the right foods to eat after a root canal is essential for proper healing. On the flip side, eating the wrong foods could lead to complications and disrupt the healing process.

Why does your diet matter after a root canal?

What you eat after a root canal matters for a few reasons:

  • Your tooth will be sensitive and vulnerable immediately after the procedure. The wrong foods could cause pain or damage to the treated tooth.
  • You want to avoid getting any food particles stuck in the root canal area as it heals. This could lead to infection.
  • Some foods may be too hard or crunchy and put pressure on the tooth. This needs to be avoided.
  • You’ll want to stick with soft, mild foods that won’t irritate or inflame the area while it heals.

Following your dentist’s dietary guidelines will help ensure proper healing and recovery. Avoiding certain foods and choosing the right foods to eat after a root canal is crucial.

Foods to Avoid After a Root Canal

There are certain foods you’ll want to avoid for at least a few days after having a root canal. These foods could disrupt and damage the treated tooth while it heals. Here’s an overview of what to stay away from:

Hard, Crunchy, or Sticky Foods

Any foods that are very hard, crunchy, chewy, or sticky should be avoided after a root canal procedure. These types of foods can put too much pressure on the treated tooth and damage it. Examples include:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Popcorn
  • Hard candies
  • Chewy candies like caramels or gum
  • Raw vegetables like carrots, celery, or apples
  • Chips, pretzels, or other crunchy snack foods
  • Hard breads or bagels
  • Taffy or other sticky candies
  • Beef jerky

All of these foods could potentially dislodge blood clots, damage delicate tissue, or put pressure on the tooth. Your dentist will likely recommend avoiding them for at least a few days after the root canal.

Spicy, Salty, or Acidic Foods

Foods that are spicy, salty, or acidic can cause irritation, inflammation, and pain in the area around your root canal. These types of foods should be avoided, including:

  • Spicy foods like chili, salsa, or buffalo wings
  • Salty foods like chips, pretzels, or salted nuts
  • Acidic foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, or vinegar
  • Spicy condiments like hot sauce or horseradish
  • Salty condiments like soy sauce

The spices, salts, oils, and acids in these foods can seep into the root canal and cause irritation. They may also inflame the surrounding gum tissue.

Very Hot or Cold Foods

Temperature extremes can cause pain and sensitivity in a tooth that was recently treated with a root canal. Avoid these types of foods for the first few days after your procedure:

  • Hot coffee, tea, or soup
  • Very cold treats like ice cream, popsicles, or slushies

Stick with room temperature and slightly warm foods instead. This will minimize pain and sensitivity as the tooth heals.

Alcoholic Beverages

It’s best to avoid drinking alcohol immediately after a root canal. Alcohol can slow the healing process and interact with any medication you’ve been prescribed for pain or infection. Lay off the booze for at least 24-48 hours after your procedure.

Carbonated Beverages

The bubbles and fizz in carbonated soft drinks can seep into your tooth’s roots and cause irritation and inflammation. Avoid drinking soda, sparkling water, beer, champagne, and other bubbly beverages in the days following your root canal.

Recommended Foods After a Root Canal

Now that you know what to avoid, let’s look at some good food choices to promote healing after a root canal:

Lukewarm Soups and Broths

Warm – but not piping hot – soups and broths are an excellent option after a root canal. The warmth can be soothing, while the soft texture won’t put any pressure on your tooth. Go for chicken noodle soup, vegetable broth, miso soup, or bone broth.


Plain yogurt is a great source of protein and calories after an invasive dental procedure like a root canal. The cool, soft texture also feels nice against tender gums and teeth. Stick with unflavored yogurt without fruit chunks.

Mashed Potatoes

Buttery, mashed potatoes are an ideal comfort food while recovering from a root canal. They provide essential nutrients and the soft texture won’t bother your tooth. Just avoid any crispy potato chips on top.


Pudding cups provide protein as well as soothing relief for your mouth. Chocolate, vanilla, or butterscotch pudding are all good options. Just be sure to steer clear of any crunchy toppings.

Apple Sauce

Applesauce contains antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C without an abrasive texture. It’s one of the better fruit choices after oral surgery or a root canal. Just stick with unsweetened varieties.

Custard or Ice Cream

The coldness of soft custard or ice cream can feel soothing against tender gums and teeth. They provide calories and protein too. Avoid chunky mix-ins like nuts or cookies – stick with smooth, creamy textures.


Scrambled eggs are a great source of protein, zinc, and vitamin D after dental work. The texture is unlikely to bother your healing tooth. You can also opt for soft-boiled eggs or runny yolks.


A warm bowl of plain oatmeal provides fiber, iron, and other key nutrients. It also has a smooth, mushy texture that won’t irritate your mouth. Avoid any crunchy nuts, seeds, or dried fruit in your oats.


When chewing is uncomfortable, get your fruit fix in the form of a smoothie made with yogurt or milk. Bananas, mangoes, strawberries, and melons work well. Skip any seeds or berry seeds that could get lodged in your tooth.

How Long Should You Follow a Soft Food Diet After a Root Canal?

In general, you’ll want to stick with a soft foods diet for 3-7 days after having a root canal. However, your dentist may advise you to follow these dietary guidelines for longer, especially if:

  • Your tooth feels very sensitive for an extended period
  • You had infection or abscess issues around the tooth
  • You had an abnormal amount of pain during or after the root canal
  • You required extensive work on the tooth
  • You had bone grafting or a crown done in addition to the root canal

With any of these complicating factors, it may take longer for full healing to occur. Be sure to follow your dentist’s recovery timeline recommendations closely. Generally you’ll want to stick with soft, mild foods as long as you have pain or sensitivity.

Tips for a Comfortable Recovery After a Root Canal

Here are some additional tips to help you recover comfortably after your root canal procedure:

  • Take any antibiotics or pain medication as directed by your dentist
  • Rinse your mouth with saltwater several times a day to keep the area clean
  • Brush and floss very gently around the treated tooth
  • Don’t bite down on the tooth and avoid chewing on that side
  • Sleep with your head elevated to minimize swelling
  • Avoid eating or drinking anything too hot or cold
  • Stick to soft foods until you can comfortably chew and bite down again

With proper care and an appropriate diet, you’ll be back to your normal eating habits before you know it. Just remember to take it easy on your tooth after a root canal – no crunchy chips or biting into apples! Follow your dentist’s advice and give your body the time it needs to properly heal.


What you eat after a root canal directly impacts healing, so choose wisely. Stick with a soft diet free of hard, crunchy, acidic, and spicy foods which could damage or irritate the treated tooth. Give yourself several days of eating yogurt, pudding, mashed potatoes, eggs, oatmeal and other soft nourishing foods. Avoid temperature extremes, alcoholic beverages, and carbonated drinks as well. Follow your dentist’s directions on when you can resume your normal diet. With proper rest and care, your tooth will be ready for crunchy tacos and popcorn before too long!

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