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Dairy or No Dairy After Tooth Extraction?

You can and should have dairy after a tooth extraction because it can be beneficial for the post-operative recovery by helping the socket heal. Yes, we are aware that there has been some mentions about avoiding dairy after an extraction or wisdom tooth removal but there is no evidence to support doing so.

Kefir yogurt
Kefir yogurt

As we've all learned while growing up, drinking milk and having dairy products will help build strong bones and teeth. After having a tooth removed, there is obviously a hole in the jaw which will need to be filled back in with bone.

Logically speaking, having dairy which is full of calcium would be beneficial for the socket to fill back in with bone. It's not as if your body can miraculously produce calcium, you need to get it from your diet and what better way than with dairy.

Nonetheless you're probably curious as to where this rumor of no dairy came from.

History of dairy avoidance after oral surgery

We were initially surprised about the no dairy recommendation because it didn't make a lot of sense to us. However it also made us incredibly curious as to where that recommendation originated from.

As it turns out, the advice for avoiding dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese) after oral surgery procedures seems to be common practice among the German speaking populations.

In fact, when the study surveyed dental providers in those countries, they found some fascinating information.

  • Over half of the dentists in those countries advised to abstain from dairy.

  • Roughly 40% of the oral surgeons also advised against dairy.

Below is a table which shows various countries and their dairy avoidance recommendations.

Those were staggering numbers of practitioners who recommended against consuming dairy products after an extraction.

How it that compares to other countries

Surprisingly, the dairy avoidance seems to be mostly present in German speaking populations. When you compare it to other countries, the recommendation is different.

Below is a table which shows various countries and their dairy avoidance recommendations.

Dairy avoidance by country
Dairy avoidance by country

In summary, only 5 countries out of the 29 that were surveyed had a recommendation against having dairy after dentoalveolar surgery. The USA was not one of those five countries!

Alleged reasons against consuming dairy

There are various alleged reasons as to why dairy such as milk should be avoided after tooth removal. However, most of these claims are false.

Why dairy is bad after an extraction:

  • Milk and dairy products increase risk of infection.

  • Lactic acid bacteria may adversely affect wound healing.

  • Possible adverse effect on development of coagulum.

  • Possible reduced efficiency of antibiotics.

  • Dairy products may cause tuberculosis infection (specifically unpasteurized raw milk products).

  • Milk may react with resorbable sutures.

  • Nausea, vomiting and upset stomach may develop in conjunction with local anesthesia.

There is no basis to any of these allegations.

So is it bad to have dairy after an extraction?

Fortunately, studies have shown that there is no evidence to support dairy avoidance after tooth removal. That means it is safe to have dairy after having your tooth removed or after any oral surgery procedure for that matter.

Concerns that have been proven false:

  • Potential tuberculosis infection from milk.

  • Nausea and vomiting induced by dairy interaction with local anesthesia.

Essentially, all of the alleged claims have no evidence and it should be safe to consume dairy after your oral surgery procedure.

Tuberculosis infection

One of the concerns was the possibility of getting a tuberculosis infection from drinking milk. That may have been valid in the past but nowadays especially in the United States, milk is all pasteurized.

The risk of getting tuberculosis from milk has been reduced to virtually zero in this present age. As per the CDC, the chance of that happening is incredibly rare in industrialized countries with pasteurized dairy products.

Nausea & Vomiting

Another point which we wish to address is the possibility of nausea and vomiting which may occur from having dairy. According to some sources, the dairy mixed with local anesthesia may elicit those effects.

To the best of our knowledge, we've never heard of that before. If there was an interaction between milk and local anesthesia, we would be telling our patients that they can't have dairy after dental fillings. We've never had to do that before.

The most commonly used local anesthetic for dental procedures is Lidocaine. According to the FDA, dairy is NOT a contraindication for Lidocaine.

So, can I drink milk after tooth extraction?

Yes, you can drink milk after having your tooth removed and we would encourage you to do so. Rather than being harmful, it has many wonderful benefits for socket healing which you would miss out on if you excluded it from your diet.

Parmesan and pepper jack cheese
Parmesan and pepper jack cheese

Dairy benefits after extractions:

  • Provides calcium. That empty tooth socket after the tooth gets pulled will need to be filled back in with bone. Calcium is an essential mineral that is required for building strong bones and teeth. Milk and dairy products in general are full of calcium which will help your socket heal faster.

  • Easy to eat after surgery. After extracting your tooth, there are a lot of foods that are off limits because they're too hard or difficult to eat. Your diet should consist of mostly softer foods for the first 2-3 days. Milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese happen to be very soft so they're easy to eat and they're nutritious.

  • Adds variety to diet. After the procedure, you can only eat so many mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs. Having an additional food type will be a blessing for your limited diet!

Hopefully that answers your question about whether or not you can have any after your procedure. Nonetheless, just so that there is no confusion, here is a list of dairy products which you may eat after having your tooth removed.

  • Milk (chocolate milk)

  • Yogurt

  • Cottage cheese

  • Cream cheese

  • Custard

  • Almond milk

  • Softer cheeses (harder cheeses may be difficult to chew after an extraction)

  • Sour cream

  • Ice cream

  • Butter

  • Whey protein

Last but not least, don't forget that there are a lot of dos and dos in regards to tooth extraction aftercare which you should review.



David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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