As you have probably noticed, there are a lot of meals out there that are not kind to a sore mouth, especially after a tooth extraction. If the food is too crunchy, you risk hurting the gums and if it is soft but has a lot of chunks, you risk something getting stuck in the wound. But where does spicy food fall on this extensive ‘do not touch’ list?
You cannot eat spicy food within five days after a tooth extraction. It may even be longer for those who had a surgical extraction as the wound may heal relatively slower. Strong spices such as cayenne pepper can irritate the wound and slow down the healing process.
While this information may be a disappointment if you were hoping for a favorite, spicy comfort meal after your surgery, it is safer to wait. Below is more information and some alternatives to spicy food while your mouth mends itself!
Why Spice Harms the Healing Process
Spicy foods taste good and feel nice on the throat and tongue, but they are not beneficial to the gums.
Spices naturally have a high level of acidity, somewhat like pineapples. This acidity level means that if you are constantly eating spice, the saliva and other natural linings that protect your gums become worn down.
The more worn down the lining of your mouth becomes, the higher your risk of developing painful sores. You must be especially careful of this delicate balance between mouth and spice when you have recently had a tooth removed.
The gap where the tooth was is extra vulnerable since it has not healed enough to build up a protective lining yet. If spice enters the wound, it will irritate the gums and cause real damage to the tender area.
This process will hurt, and it will not be easy to get the burning sensation out of the extraction site. So if there is any spice powder in a meal you are hoping to eat, you will need to stifle the urge.
Larger or whole spices (such as unground or flaked pepper) can be even more dangerous. These larger chunks can slip into the empty hole and get stuck, causing infection.
Infections have to be dealt with by doctors, and you do not want to add that procedure to your bill. Even if you try to chew only on the unaffected side of your mouth, you will not be able to keep the gap completely safe.
This is a lot of information to take in at once, but do not despair. Once your gums have fully healed, you can go back to your regular eating habits! After a short time, your gum lining will build itself back up, and your mouth will be in no danger from spicy food.
What to Do if You Have Already Eaten Spicy Food
If you chose to eat your spicy meal and ask questions later, you may now find yourself in a pickle.
The best thing to do is take a sip of cold water or milk and let it sit near the wound – DO NOT SWISH. Swishing liquid around in your mouth can cause the extraction site to start bleeding. After the water or milk has sat for a while in your mouth, swallow gently and repeat the process until your mouth is cleared of spice residue.
If you notice that the tooth extraction site remains irritated even after gentle rinsing, call your doctor. There may not be much they can do for you at the moment, but it is better to catch any potential problems early. Even if it has been a day or two since your spice encounter, excessive irritation can be a sign of damage.
Now that you have more information, stay away from spicy foods until your mouth is less tender!
Speeding Up Recovery: How to Get Back to Normal Faster!
If you’re a spice lover and cannot last a full week without your dose of spicy food, the best thing you can do is to speed up your recovery. Sadly, however, this involves cutting back on your spicy meals until your tooth extraction wound is fully healed.
Recovery from a tooth extraction can take anywhere from three days to two weeks. So what is the best way to make sure it happens sooner rather than later?
Here are some pieces of advice from oral doctors when it comes to recuperation after tooth removal!
Eat Soft Foods
One of the worst things you can do for your healing mouth is try to eat hard, tough, or crunchy foods too soon after surgery.
Dentists recommend porridge, soup (as long as it is not too hot!), yogurt, and well-cooked vegetables. Also, while you may prefer some spices in your porridge, try to cut back on them for the time being so as not to delay your recovery.
You must avoid chips, pretzels, tough meats, raw vegetables, and anything that requires more than a few chews.
You should also stay away from food made up of small elements such as rice. If a grain of rice gets stuck in the wound, it is likely to become painfully infected.
Take Prescribed Medicine
After your surgery, you were likely prescribed painkillers and antibiotics. Over the counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can usually be used in addition to your stronger painkillers if you need.
Be sure to take your antibiotics for as long as prescribed. Antibiotics prevent bacterial infections from forming in the wound, and if you stop taking them too early, bacteria resistant to antibiotics have the chance to grow. This means a longer recovery time and more complicated medication changes.
NOTE: If you have an unanticipated reaction to the prescribed painkillers, stop taking them immediately and inform your doctor of your reaction as soon as you can. This will go on your medical record and prevent that painkiller being prescribed ever again.
Be Gentle When Cleaning Your Mouth
Most people brush their teeth on autopilot, but you will need to be more careful. Take the time to brush consciously and gently, especially for the first week. Vigorous brushing can irritate your sensitive gums and disrupt the healing process.
You will also need to take extra measures to clean the area around the wound. Delicately rinsing your mouth with saltwater is a good way to care for the wound even though it will not be a treat to your taste buds.
Important Health Note
For more information about what you can and cannot eat after oral surgery, always talk to your healthcare professional first, and do NOT take matters into your own hands. Even if you think you are being careful when it comes to ‘forbidden foods,’ you will be putting your wound and your gums at risk of further injury.
Healthcare professionals will know the specifics of your case best, and they will be able to offer more specific advice regarding recovery times. Not all recovery times are the same, and a healthcare professional will be able to use information like your age and activity levels to determine when you will be ready to eat normally again.
Though you will not be able to do strenuous activities or eat your favorite spicy foods for a while after a tooth extraction, we encourage you to take this time to do things you would not normally do. Read a book, take a nap, brew some tea (but not too hot!) and wait for your mouth to mend.
This brief period of rest and painkiller will undoubtedly make your return to your regular diet even more refreshing! Do not forget to reach out to your doctor with any concerns – they are willing to help you with anything!
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