Dental Patient Friendly Foods

Most people dread going to the dentist for anything other than routine teeth cleaning, mainly due to the pain and discomfort that can occur before, during and after their procedures.  Maybe the worst part is not being able to eat like a normal human being for at least a week!  Personally, the only significant dental procedure I've experienced is the removal of one wisdom tooth when back in college.  I bounced back quickly though (hooray for youth!), others might not be so lucky...


In fact, I had the challenge of playing nurse to a root canal patient recently.  I remember living off mashed potatoes and pudding cups for a few days back then, and that wasn't satisfying or nutritious!  How could someone with some culinary skill bring back some happiness and comfort in a dental patient's life as they heal?  It's not as difficult as you might think!  It was a challenge I was eager to take on.  All it takes, is some "outside the box" thinking.

Smoothies:

Sounds obvious at first, but remember, they need the best nutrients to heal faster!  Darker berries, for example, hold more nutrients.  Peanut butter packs lots of protein.  Beet juice actually goes well with fruit smoothies too!  But please, use a low-fat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream to make these, you want them to heal, not pack on the pounds.

Custards:

Yes, puddings are custards, but I'm talking about going up a level.  You can bake your favorite pumpkin pie filling in ceramic ramekins instead of a pie crust (and yes, top them with whipped cream!), you can also make flan, chocolate mousse, and even panna cotta, just to name a few!

Bourbom Pumpkin Custards from CulinaryCara

Slow Cooked Meats/Veggies:

Time to bust out the slow cooker and render some proteins into melt-in-your mouth tenderness!  I slow cooked a pot roast with onions, carrots, celery and spices for about 10-12 hours overnight (that's right, this gal can cook in her sleep!), and once it was fork tender, I shredded the pot roast and chopped it down until it was a very crumbly texture.  Then serve the crumbly beef over a bed of mashed potatoes, finely chop some of the slow cooked veggies over that and pour a bit of the cooking liquid over everything.  Makes for a hearty and heart-warming meal even if you're not getting teeth pulled!  You can use a food processor to finely chop the slow cooked meat, but I try to keep my knife skills in check every chance I get, so I do it the old-fashioned way.  Just keep in mind, the chopping will take place of what your dental patient can't do, and that's chew!

Pasta:

A bit overcooked and nothing that requires slurping will do the trick!  Use any small pasta with a puréed marinara sauce, trust me, it's way better than those pasta rings in a can!  You can also add crumbled Italian sausage for some protein, just make sure it's very finely crumbled for easy eating.  If your patient is more of an Alfredo fan, use your favorite Alfredo sauce and finely crumbled ground chicken instead!  Mac and cheese is always a classic, just make sure the cheese sauce is nice and smooth for easy eating.  Steer clear of pesto sauces, by the way, as the small bits of nuts could get stuck in the wounds.  You don't want to send your loved one back to the dentist!

Ditalini is an example of an easy-to-eat, small pasta! credit to SourCherryFarm.com for the image

Salads:

Yup, salads too!  Chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad, even pasta salad (overcooked pasta, that is),  just as long as any proteins and veggies involved are very finely chopped!  Here's a chicken salad I made using a ready-made rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, along with celery, fresh tarragon, mayo, dijon and a little rice vinegar:

from CulinaryCara Instagram

Miscellaneous:

Should your recovering patient grow weary of the aforementioned dishes, or maybe you have an exceptionally picky eater on your hands, you can throw a few of the following into the mix as well:  Mashed cauliflower, which fools people into thinking they're mashed potatoes more than you think!  Other notables include re-fried beans, tapioca pudding, grits or oatmeal, creamed/puréed soups, creamed spinach and even the Indian version of creamed spinach called Palak Paneer, if they are adventurous.  You might want to take out the cubed cheese (aka: Paneer) since it could be difficult to eat for a healing jaw.


You'll, without a doubt, bring some happiness to their recovery by keeping them well-fed!  A soft-food diet doesn't mean you're left with meager choices.  Got any additional suggestions?  Post 'em!


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