Having dental implants fitted is a major procedure, and ensuring your mouth and gums heal properly after the surgery is vital – if everything heals as quickly and as well as possible, it gives the implants the best chance of lasting for a very long time.
As part of this, you may have heard about certain foods you can and can’t eat, and one thing to avoid is anything that contains dairy. And to help you understand the reason, here we answer the question, why no dairy after a dental implant?
Why No Dairy After a Dental Implant?
Dental implants – an overview
Before we talk about why you shouldn’t eat dairy after having a dental implant fitted, let’s take a step back and think about how dental implants work because that will help us understand why dairy should stay off the menu.
Dental implants are designed to be a permanent or long-term solution to tooth loss.
During the procedure, what’s essentially a titanium pin is screwed directly into your jaw.
This is then left to heal, and the bone will gradually fuse with the pin in a process known as osseointegration, which, if all goes smoothly, will then hold the pin firmly and securely in place, just like the root of a natural tooth.
Then, once the healing process is complete, the “crown” is attached to the titanium pin, leaving you with a natural-looking tooth that will allow you to eat just about whatever you like again.
Why healing is so important
Once in place, dental implants have a success rate of around 90-95% over a ten-year period, and if the healing process is allowed to take place correctly, you can reasonably expect an implant to last at least 15 to 25 years, if not more.
However, this is dependent on the osseointegration being successful and the bone fusing with the implant – because if this doesn’t happen, the implant has a higher chance of failing.
After this has been completed, you may find you need to change the crown due to normal wear and tear – according to research, 90% of crowns will last at least five years, and 50-80% will need to be replaced within 15-20 years.
However, the critical part is encouraging the pin to fuse with your jawbone, and this is why the first few days and then weeks after the initial procedure are so important.
If you want to learn more about this topic as well as how to care for an implant, you can also check out this video before reading on.
So why can’t you eat dairy?
So you may now be wondering what all this has to do with dairy – after all, a glass of milk or a piece of cheese would seem to be quite innocuous things to consume, right?
And more than this, dairy contains plenty of calcium and protein, both important nutrients for healing – so what is it about dairy that makes it something to avoid?
The first part of the answer is that dairy products can cause inflammation in oral tissue after surgery, which can interfere with the healing process, causing the site of the surgery to take longer to repair itself.
However, more than this, dairy products have been known to cause nausea and even vomiting in certain patients after surgery, possibly due to a reaction to the anesthetic, and this is something you really want to avoid, and not just because vomiting is unpleasant.
If you have just had an implant fitted, vomiting may compromise it by loosening it or even making it fall out.
Even if this doesn’t happen, it can dislodge the blood clot that has formed over the wound to protect the site of the incision, helping it to heal.
Finally, when you vomit, it brings up acid from your stomach, and this will also adversely affect the healing process.
In reality, the risk of vomiting might not be that high just from eating dairy products after surgery, but since it’s something that can have such a disastrous effect on your implant if it happens, it’s something you’re still better off avoiding, just in case.
What kind of products shouldn’t you eat?
After surgery, you should avoid eating or drinking any kind of dairy product, which includes the following:
- Ice cream
However, this list is not exhaustive, and you should avoid anything else that has milk or dairy in it after your surgery.
When can you eat dairy again?
You should avoid dairy for at least a few days and preferably at least a week or so after your surgery. However, you should ask the dentist who performs the surgery for advice on how long you need to wait before eating dairy again.
What to eat instead
So if you can’t eat dairy, what else can you eat? Here are a few suggestions.
In the first day or two after your surgery, soup is likely to be your friend. It’s ideal because you won’t need to chew it, and it contains plenty of the kinds of nutrients that you’ll need for your recovery.
Just make sure it isn’t too hot when you eat it or it can dissolve or dislodge your blood clot.
In fact, it’s probably best to just eat it cold for at least the first 24 hours after the procedure.
Eggs contain plenty of protein and calcium, making them a good choice for anybody recovering from implant surgery. Furthermore, they are a soft type of food, and there are several ways of preparing them, so eggs are a recommended menu item.
Soft fruit and veg
As long as you cook them well, soft veggies are a possibility, although you’ll probably want to wait until at least 24 hours after the surgery before you try anything like this.
Soft fruits can be ok too, but you need to make sure you don’t eat anything with a high acid content like oranges.
Potatoes can be mashed, and this is another ideal food type to help fill you up and give you plenty of energy in the days after your implants are fitted.
You can also boil them until they are soft and eat them like that, although again, this is probably best left until at least a few days after the procedure.
Is there anything else you shouldn’t eat?
Other than dairy, is there anything else you shouldn’t eat?
- Chewy food
Anything that requires chewing should be avoided, especially in the days immediately after the surgery. This means things like steak have to be removed temporarily from the menu.
- Sticky food
Anything sticky should not go anywhere your implant – so things like toffee are best avoided.
- Crunchy food
Anything crunchy like brittle candy or chips is not advisable.
- Spicy food
Anything with chili in it is best avoided as it can irritate the incision and can also cause a lot of pain.
- Acidic food
Acidic fruits shouldn’t be eaten, and you should avoid putting vinegar on your food to add flavor.
- Hot food and drink
In general, anything hot should be avoided, which includes food as well as drinks like tea or coffee.
For the first day or so, it’s best to stick to cold food and drinks, but after that, you can have them warmed up as long as they aren’t hot.
More tips for a speedy recovery
After your surgery, there are some other things that can help speed up the recovery process.
1. Don’t smoke after the procedure
You shouldn’t smoke after having implants fitted because it reduces the blood flow in your mouth, which will slow down the healing process.
If you really can’t go without a cigarette, try to cut down as much as possible. However, dental implants are expensive, and you will potentially have them in your mouth for a long time – so it’s really best to not smoke at all since the healing process is so important.
2. Don’t drink alcohol for 72 hours
You should also refrain from alcohol for at least the first 72 hours for similar reasons.
Alcohol thins the blood and will slow the healing process. It may also interfere with the wound, causing it to heal imperfectly.
Even after 72 hours, try not to drink excessively since it can still prevent the site of the surgery from healing as well as it might.
3. Don’t floss or rinse too vigorously
Don’t floss around the implant or rinse too vigorously. Your dentist will give you advice about how to care for the incision – including things like how to brush your teeth – so make sure you follow their instructions carefully.
Dairy is best avoided for a couple of reasons
As we’ve seen, it’s best to avoid eating or drinking dairy products after having dental implants fitted due to the risk of inflammation and the possibility that it could make you vomit, both things you should do your best to avoid.
There are several other foods you should avoid too, which we’ve discussed above, but if you stick to a simple diet of soft, cool foods, at least for the first few days after your surgery, you will give the site of the implant the best chance of healing correctly.