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Why No Dairy After Dental Implants?

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A woman with new dental implants rejects a slice of cheese placed on a cheese board.

After dental implant surgery, you may be excited to get back to eating your favourite foods as soon as possible. But like any oral procedure, part of recovering from dental implant surgery includes watching what you eat. 

Your dentist may have told you to take some dairy downtime, but why?

While dairy is full of fantastic nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, it’s not your best buddy when you’re recovering from dental implant surgery. Dairy can be hard to clean from fresh dental implants, it can affect how you absorb antibiotics, and it can be a potential source of inflammation that can hinder your healing process.

Dairy Can Be Hard to Clean

Many people would agree that cheese is great. But cheese and other dairy delights can be tricky to clean from your dental implant site. If those food particles linger, they can become a banquet for bacteria, potentially causing infections or other issues.

Plus, the bacteria naturally hanging out in dairy products can create acids that may harm your teeth and gums. So, while your surgical site is still an open wound, we usually recommend giving your gums a little break from dairy.

Dairy Can Worsen Inflammation

Something you may deal with while healing from surgery is inflammation and swelling. It’s common and usually nothing to worry about, as it typically goes away on its own. But, the more factors that irritate your surgery site, the longer healing can take—and dairy has a fascinating relationship with inflammation.

There’s mixed evidence regarding dairy and inflammation. While some studies suggest dairy is inflammatory, more research is needed on that front. 

Dairy can also be high in saturated fats, which can worsen inflammation you’re already dealing with, such as the inflammation caused by surgery for dental implants.

So, while researchers aren’t entirely sure about the connection between dairy and inflammation, it’s recommended to simply avoid it while you’re healing.

Dairy Can Absorb Antibiotics

When you think of dairy, calcium is usually not far behind. Dairy is like the poster child for calcium, an essential nutrient for bone health and dental implant success. You may be tempted to load up on all the calcium you can—but there’s a catch. The calcium found in dairy can actually absorb the antibiotics that are supposed to prevent infections.

If your dentist recommends antibiotics, you need them working at their intended strength. Dairy may sap that strength, causing antibiotics to work less effectively and making you more vulnerable to infections after your surgery.

What Can I Eat After Dental Implants?

Now you’re all up-to-date on why you shouldn’t eat dairy, but you still need to eat something! You may have limited options for a few days or weeks after surgery, but there are still plenty of delicious meals you can enjoy.

Keeping your body healthy and strong is one of the best ways to help the healing process. So, let’s load up your plate and get this recovery rolling!

Eat Soft Foods

Your teeth and gums may be somewhat sensitive after surgery, so start with foods that won’t be painful to chew and swallow. Stick to soft foods like:

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Smoothies
  • Soup
  • Softened, cooked fruits like bananas and mangos

Start with the soft stuff, and as your implant site heals, gradually reintroduce firmer and chewier foods. By the end of the first week post-surgery, you could try soft fruits like peaches or pears, cooked vegetables, and tender meat. Take it slow, though—there’s no need to rush.

Eat Cold Foods

Do you know what’s better than good food? Good food that also makes you feel better. Cold foods can be like an edible ice pack, helping alleviate pain and swelling. They’re no replacement for a real ice pack, of course, so keep one nearby while you’re eating foods like:

  • Smoothies
  • Jell-O
  • Cold soups

Stay Hydrated

Hydration should be your friend during your recovery. Plain water is typically your best bet, but you can switch things up with coconut water or fresh juice for flavour. These drinks help keep your body and implant site hydrated, which can be crucial for healing.

Steer clear of acidic, sugary, and caffeinated beverages, and please, no alcohol while you’re healing—it could irritate a wound or cause negative interactions with medication.

A close-up of a man cracking a hard shell nut with his teeth. Chewing hard foods and nuts can damage dental implants

Foods to Avoid

Dairy isn’t the only thing you should set aside while healing. Steer clear of anything hard, chewy, crunchy, or prone to getting stuck in your implant site. 

Other foods you should avoid include:

  • Popcorn
  • Hard candy
  • Nuts
  • Chips
  • Seeds
  • Beef jerky or anything that needs serious chewing

Where Can You Get Calcium During Recovery?

Even if you should avoid dairy, calcium is still an essential nutrient for your body and teeth. We’re not about to leave your calcium needs hanging. Keeping those teeth strong and healthy can still be on the menu, just with a dairy-free twist.

Here are some calcium-packed alternatives that can be implant-friendly:

  • Soy milk
  • Dried figs
  • Tofu
  • Edamame
  • Kale
  • Sweet potato
  • Collard greens
  • Butternut squash
  • Arugula

A Road to Healthy Recovery

Taking a break from dairy after dental implant surgery can be crucial for a smooth recovery because dairy can disrupt your healing process, potentially causing infections or other complications. 

At Newton Smiles Dental, our team is here to guide you through recovery, including making mindful food choices. If you have any questions or concerns about dental implant surgery, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Let’s chat and get you on the road to a brighter, healthier smile!

Contact us and book an appointment today.

Written by Dr. Anilkumar Madivalar Gopi

More Articles By Dr. Anilkumar Madivalar Gopi
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