Foods to Eat Without Teeth, and General Eating Tips Just After A Procedure

I recently lost most of my teeth from an oral surgery, and awaiting a two-month healing process before I get a full set of dentures. In the meantime, that’s two months of having to eat things without chewing them like I normally might. I’m actually less than a single week after my “e-day” and I’ve already come up with some weird ways to eat the foods I used to be able to, but without chewing, even while my gums are still sore, so here is my growing list (which will be updated as I add more) —

Obviously the list would include things like yogurt, gelatin-desserts, oatmeal, mashed potatoes or other mashed/strained veggies, but I was hoping to make a list better than just that kind of thing.

These items are just from my personal experience as working, so trying them yourself is at your own risk.

Snack cakes. I was able to pinch a corner of the softer snack cakes (like Little Debbie Zebra cakes) and mash them to the roof of my mouth with my tongue in order to make them small enough to swallow. I haven’t tried any of the ‘sharper’ cakes yet like Nutty Bars.

Hamburger meat. Instead of the usual chomp out of a patty, I tried pulling the cooked patty apart by hand (with napkin handy, because it gets messy), into the teensiest pieces I could manage, and then scoop the tiny hunks up with a spoon or fork, perhaps mixed with tiny blobs of favorite condiments. I was able to eat what totaled a single regular hamburger by hand-separating each ingredient into very teensy pellet-sized pieces and mixing them together like a bowl of cereal, and it tasted pretty much the same, just minus the ability to savor the flavor as well a I might by chewing them. The condiments made the drier texture shreds much easier to swallow. Make sure you get each little burger meat piece very very tiny, like VERY tiny.

Pringles chips. I haven’t tried many other chips yet, but I figured out that I could put about 5-7 pringles chips into a mug and use a spoon to crush them quite easily into almost powder, spoonful a heap into my mouth, and then let them sit in my mouth momentarily while saliva built up enough, just moving the spoonful around in your mouth away from the gums. Once it becomes mushy enough, swallow. Be very careful not to swallow too early while the spoonful is still too dry, because it can really scratch going down. Savor the flavor a bit, and mash it to the roof of your mouth to saturate the spoonful thoroughly. May help to take a very tiny sip of water to help move things along.

I chose Pringles to try first specifically because of how brittle they are normally even with teeth, so I assume if I can find some way to break up the tougher chips into basically crumbs, the same principle would work.

Dry cereal. I’m already a fan of using water instead of milk for my dry cereal, and cereals like Kellogg’s Fruit Loops are still manageable with no teeth, if you spoon yourself a small heap dry, and then take a tiny sip of water or milk, and holding it in your mouth until it becomes mushy enough to comfortably swallow. I haven’t tried rougher things like Raising Bran, but consider lots of caution before swallowing anything that isn’t already super mushy, otherwise you might really scratch something on the way down.

Well-cooked pasta. Pasta that is well-cooked, to the point of being very easily cut with a fork, works well for me, especially if something else is added to it that makes it super slippery, such as a cheapo chicken-noodle soup. I typically boil mine on max natural gas stove heat for about 16 minutes, and then draining it with a metal colander, and letting it set aside for several minutes to cool down. If you’re pretty fresh out of e-day, you need to be super careful about anything very hot to drink, so make sure it is well cooled enough. I’ve been able to swallow small spoons of small-elbow pasta directly, because it is a small enough and flexible enough, and is made slick enough to go right on down with minimal fuss. Avoid adding something like breading or crumbs that would make the pasta dry out too much.

I’ll add more as I think of them, or add your ideas in the comments =)

If you’re trying to eat things with little or no teeth, especially right after the procedure, I have a few general tips.

Dump, don’t slurp. In the first few days after your e-day (extraction/procedure day), avoid making any kind of suction action in your mouth, such as slurping soup or Jell-O from a spoon, and especially avoid drinking with a straw. Variation in pressure inside your mouth can possibly break the very fragile clotting in your gums necessary for healing and reduce you back to the bloody gauze stage all over again.

Instead of slurping off a spoon, practice tilting your head back a little, or opening your mouth wide, if you can, and letting the food slide off the spoon into your mouth. Re-enacting the Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene will have to wait until you’re healed up better.

Train yourself to swallow with your lips parted. It can be done as practice without any food right now: try to swallow, with your mouth open. For those of us with super-sensitive gums right after the procedure, the very act of swallowing can put unnecessary pressure on them. If you can make the “knocking” or “tsk” sound by pulling your tongue off the roof of your mouth, then just keep your flattened tongue in the initial position for those sounds by pusing up on the roof of your mouth just inside the gum line away from any damage, and try to swallow. Your gums will hurt way less when swallowing this way, and will help to avoid disturbing any delicate healing built up.

Invest in an eyedropper. Just a very tiny amount of water will go a long way to help moistening food better like your own saliva does. In lieu of an eyedropper you can just sip tiny bits of water, but for more flavor from each mouthful, just a very tiny amount of water can help greatly, whereas if you take a big gulp, it can reduce the flavor of what you’re trying to eat substantially.

You could also take a drinking straw, dip the bottom end into a glass of water, plug the top end with your finger, raise the bottom of the straw to your mouth, and release the finger plugging the top so the water falls into your mouth (not sucking on it), and that will act like an eyedropper.

Aside from the flavor enhancement element, the addition of the small amount of water will assist you in preventing ‘dry socket’ since your saliva glands can be better prepared to maintain moisture for when you’re not eating.

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One thought on “Foods to Eat Without Teeth, and General Eating Tips Just After A Procedure

  1. Cooked fish can be flaked into small enough pieces to swallow whole or mashed with your tongue. A small kitchen chopper can help you chop up chicken into a mince that will cook up into tiny pieces, not quite ground but not big chunks, either — and you can do it for a lot of foods. Many people make baby food and pet food this way. I have a KitchenAid 3.5 cup household food chopper, works great. Beans can be cooked and mashed for that soft “refried” texture, and beans plus rice makes a complete protein. If you cook soup for a long time the vegies get very soft and pretty much don’t need chewing. You can just about live on potatoes alone if you need to — the Irish did it long before Matt Damon became The Martian — and there are a million ways to cook the things that don’t involve crispiness. Best of luck, Karen

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