You can eat a few hours after getting fillings, and the timeline for resuming your regular diet after a filling depends on the location, your unique healing ability, and how cautiously you ease back into eating. With some care and smart food choices, most fillings allow a fairly rapid return to normal meals. Getting a dental filling often raises questions about eating afterward. Should you wait before eating normally? What foods should you avoid? How long does sensitivity last?  We will discuss what to expect after different types of fillings and provide guidelines on easing into eating comfortably.

Filled teeth  vs. unfilled teeth

Overview of Eating After Different Types of Fillings 

Many dentists recommend waiting until numbness fully wears off before eating after a filling, which usually takes 2-3 hours. This prevents accidentally biting your tongue or cheek. Sensitivity and tenderness around the filling are common for days after, so start with soft foods and avoid chewing directly on the filled tooth initially. 

For the first 24 hours, stick to lukewarm, smooth foods like yogurt, apple sauce, broth, eggs, or oatmeal. Then, move to well-cooked pasta, fish, beans, and bread without seeds or crusts. After a week, most people feel comfortable trying meat, raw vegetables, popcorn, and other foods but avoid very hard, chewy, or crunchy items that could crack the new filling. 

Use care when brushing, too – go gently around the filled area. Your dentist may advise using desensitizing toothpaste temporarily to alleviate sensitivity. With cautious eating and good oral care, you should adjust to the feeling of your new filling within a couple of weeks. Always see your dentist promptly if a filling feels loose, cracked, or very uncomfortable.

Eating After Amalgam Fillings

Silver-colored amalgam fillings are made from metals like mercury, silver, copper, and tin. Amalgams take about 24 hours to fully harden after placement. Your dentist may advise waiting to eat for 1-2 hours until numbness resolves so you don’t bite your cheeks or tongue. Afterward, you can eat but should select softer foods that avoid direct pressure on the new filling.

The metal amalgam mixture is quite durable once set. After 24 hours, amalgam fillings can withstand normal chewing force. But it’s still wise to begin with gentle foods like yogurt, applesauce, smoothies, or soups. Gradually reintroduce regular textures over 7-10 days. Avoid super hard, crunchy, chewy, or sticky foods for at least a week. These could crack the filling while it integrates. Stay diligent with oral hygiene as well.

The metallic material conducts hot and cold well, inhibiting sensitivity vs. other fillings. With careful eating habits during the first few days, amalgam fillings allow a fairly quick return to a normal diet.

Eating After Composite Fillings

Tooth-colored composite resin fillings are a popular alternative to metallic amalgam fillings. They match the shade of surrounding teeth for discreet restorations. Composite materials harden rapidly through curing light activation. 

Because composites adhere to the prepared tooth with a bonding agent, they are more vulnerable to cracking from biting force during initial healing. Follow the same 1-2 hour guideline for soft foods before trying to chew. Composite durability continues improving for up to 2 weeks after placement.

Foods to Avoid After Fillings

Which foods should you avoid after getting a new dental filling? Steer clear of anything that is:

  • Very hot – prioritize room temperature or cool foods.
  • Extremely cold, like ice cream. The shock aggravates sensitivity.
  • Crunchy, chewy, or hard like popcorn, nuts, or hard candies. These crack fillings.  
  • Sticky like chewing gum, caramel, dried fruit. Adhesion pulls on fillings.
  • Spicy like tacos or chili. Hot spices inflame tender gums.
  • Acidic foods like citrus, cause twinges. Drink with a straw.
  • Hard, crusty breads that require pressure to bite through. 
  • Tough, fibrous meats that take effort to chew.

Dentists typically recommend a soft foods diet for 48 hours after fillings. Then, you can progressively transition back to regular foods around the one-week mark as long as you carefully avoid chewing directly on the new filling at first.

Foods to Avoid After Fillings

Ideal Foods to Eat After Fillings

For the first 1-2 days after a filling, stick to foods like:

  • Broth-based soups with soft veggies or lentils strained out
  • Applesauce, mashed avocado, bananas, hummus, creamy nut butter
  • Protein shakes, yogurt, kefir, smoothies with no berries
  • Mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes 
  • Eggs – scrambled soft or hard boiled and soft yolked
  • Oatmeal, cream of wheat, grits, rice porridge 
  • Cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, soft deli meats minced  
  • Well-cooked pasta with light sauce, soft-cooked rice, or quinoa
  • Baked or poached fish, ground turkey, tender pulled chicken

After several days, gradually work in foods like ripe melon cubes, soft cooked veggies, beans, and bread with crusts removed. Take it slowly until your dentist confirms the filling has fully settled.

Managing Discomfort After Fillings

It is common for fillings to cause mild soreness and sensitivity for several days after placement, especially when eating. Follow these tips to minimize discomfort:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water before meals, soothe gums, and clear debris.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen before eating if recommended by your dentist.
  • To avoid temperature shocks, begin with foods served at room temperature rather than piping hot or ice cold.
  • Chew equally on both sides of the mouth to prevent excessive force on the new filling.
  • Choose soft, smooth foods that glide over the filling gently.
  • If specific foods cause sensitivity, avoid those items temporarily during healing.
  • Maintain impeccable oral hygiene to prevent food buildup on the filling.
  • Discuss any unusual or severe pain with your dentist – you may need an adjustment.
  • Use toothpaste for sensitive teeth if your dentist advises using it.

When carefully progressing food choices and textures, sensitivity after fillings should steadily improve within 1-2 weeks. Report worsening or lingering pain to your dentist for evaluation. Avoiding direct pressure on the new filling helps tremendously during the healing process.

Conclusion

You can resume eating fairly soon after fillings, but you should begin with soft foods and minimal chewing pressure. For the first 24 hours, stick to lukewarm, smooth purees and well-cooked foods. Then, progressively reintroduce regular textures over 1-2 weeks. Avoid very hot or cold items, hard, crunchy foods, chewing directly on the filling, and good oral hygiene. With careful food choices and eating habits, sensitivity should steadily improve, allowing a return to a normal diet within 1-2 weeks for both amalgam and composite fillings. Closely follow your dentist’s post-procedure instructions for the most comfortable recovery.