Although the actual implant procedure only takes about an hour or two, healing from the surgery will take much longer; anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks or more. Typically, your dentist will recommend that you only eat soft foods for a short period of time and avoid chewing on the affected side of the mouth to allow the implant to settle and attach to the surrounding bone. Here are a few tips to help make following a soft diet easier.
Build a Foundation Based on Already Soft Foods
There are quite a few foods that are already soft enough to eat without chewing (or requiring a lot of chewing) such as:
- Oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, grits, oat bran
- Broth- and cream-based soups
- Yogurt, cottage cheese, milk, ice cream, cream cheese
- Untoasted bread, biscuits, muffins
- Berries, ripe peaches, bananas, cantaloupe, applesauce, canned fruit
- Steamed or boiled vegetables
- Pasta, noodles, rice
- Fish, tofu
- Mashed beans
Start by filling your pantry with these items and similar ones. Depending on how long you'll be following the diet, it may be a good idea to get rid of hard foods you already have on hand to reduce the temptation to consume them.
Get Into Blended Foods
Possibly the biggest challenge you'll have is ensuring you get enough vitamins and minerals, many of which come from fruits and vegetables. Some, such as vitamin B12, are found in abundance in chewy or crunchy foods like red meat, oysters, liver, or fortified cereals.
One way to ensure you can still enjoy hard foods while minimizing the amount of chewing you must do is to blend or puree them. For instance, you can combine apples, carrots, and celery with a little ice and juice in a blender to make a healthy smoothie. Another technique is to puree meats and vegetables into soups.
Just about any food can be reduced to a smoother consistency using a blender or food processor, so don't be afraid to experiment with different combinations to maintain a good variety in your diet and ensure you get enough calories, vitamins, and minerals.
If you must follow a restricted diet on top of the soft diet due to a health condition (e.g. diabetes) that may impact your ability to get enough nutrients, adding vitamin and mineral supplements can also help ensure you get the recommended daily amount.
Use Different Eating Techniques
Temporarily changing the way you eat can also make sticking to a soft diet easier. Cut foods into very small pieces to minimize the amount of chewing required. Instead of using your teeth to chew, mash the food by using your tongue to press it against the roof of your mouth until it is pulverized enough to swallow. Drink water with each bite to help further soften the food enough to reduce the amount of effort required to chew it.
You may be required to follow a soft diet for only a few days or up to 3 to 4 months, depending on the type of implant placed. Prior to undergoing the procedure, speak to your dentist about the length of time you'll need to change your eating habits so you can make proper arrangements. For more information, contact a local dental clinic like Hartman Gary DDS MS Limited.