Does Drinking Pineapple Juice Before Wisdom Teeth Surgery Help With Swelling? Doctors Weigh In on TikTok Trend
You have other, better options than drinking 64 ounces of pineapple juice.
Wisdom teeth removal surgery isn't exactly a picnic, but it's something plenty of people go through. The American Dental Association lists off a slew of reasons why you may need to have your wisdom teeth removed, including struggling with pain, an infection, damage to your neighboring teeth, cysts, and more. Basically, the odds are high that your dentist is going to recommend that you get those suckers out at some point.
But the whole wisdom tooth removal surgery is actual surgery—you'll be put under for it, and recovery can take a few days. Keeping all that in mind, it's more than understandable to want to do what you can to set yourself up for a quick and easy recovery.
It's unclear exactly where this started, but there are a few TikToks featuring the stories of people who have tried this hack. One is from @valeriagreenz, who wrote that she drank 64 ounces of pineapple juice before her wisdom tooth removal surgery. Video shows her with gauze in her mouth afterward and then, on the next day, driving her car, hanging out in a part, smiling, and posing for pictures, all while looking completely normal.
The poster has done several follow-ups, including one that showed her looking fine under the words, "Didn't you just get your wisdom teeth removed and [you're] not swollen at all because you drank a $#!t ton of pineapple juice." She also added this in the caption, "Me 🤝 pineapple juice."
TikTokker Mackenzie Fuhrman posted about her own experience drinking pineapple juice before she had her wisdom teeth removed. "Clearly I don't have anything to compare it to, but if I'm not in a lot of pain or I don't have a lot of swelling then I'm going to consider it a success," she said, noting that she "researched" this and found that "pineapple juice can work because it has anti-inflammatory properties…but, we'll see tomorrow."
The video later shows Fuhrman looking groggy post-op but, she noted, right after surgery, she had "zero pain" and "minimal swelling." On the second day, Fuhrman rated her pain "one out of 10" and, by day three, she wrote that she felt "great," adding, "definitely a success!"
Looking at these testimonials with a healthy dose of doubt? That's more than fair. But, while there is some evidence to suggest this might work, experts say it shouldn't be your go-to treatment. Here's what you need to know.
First, what does wisdom tooth surgery involve?
Wisdom tooth surgery, aka wisdom tooth extraction, is when your dentist or oral surgeon removes your wisdom teeth, which are the last permanent teeth to appear in your mouth, per the Mayo Clinic. The goal of the surgery is to help prevent complications that can happen from leaving those teeth in, like infection, tooth decay, and pain.
You'll be put under sedation for the procedure, and then your doctor will make an incision in your gums to expose the tooth and bone, remove the bone that blocks access to the tooth root, remove the tooth, stitch the wound closed, and place gauze in the area, the Mayo Clinic explains.
"Dentists frequently have to remove bone and even cut the tooth," Mark Wolff, DDS, PhD, dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, tells Health. "That's traumatic to say the least."
Afterward, you may have some swelling, bleeding, discomfort, and bruising for a few days, Dr. Wolff says, but everyone reacts differently to the surgery.
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How does pineapple juice factor in here?
The claim from TikTokkers is that pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain that is an anti-inflammatory. Based on that, people say, drinking a lot of the stuff should help reduce swelling and pain after your surgery.
Believe it or not, this has actually been researched by scientists. One small study published in 2014 had some patients receive 150 milligrams of bromelain a day for three days after wisdom tooth removal surgery, and 100 milligrams on days four through seven, comparing their results to people who received a placebo. The researchers concluded that there were "no statistically significant differences" between the groups but "a trend towards less inflammation and improved oral aperture was observed in the group that received bromelain."
Another small study, this one published in 2016 in the Journal of the International Society of Preventive and Community Dentistry, gave people bromelain and amoxicillin (an antibiotic) after their surgery and assessed their pain on days one, three, and seven afterward. Of the 40 people who took bromelain, the researchers say it was "effective" in 28 of them, meaning it helped reduce swelling and pain.
But there are a few caveats to consider. "Studies looking at bromelain for reduction of pain and swelling after wisdom tooth extraction have been in supplement form and not from food sources," Jessica Cording, MS, RD, author of The Little Book of Game-Changers: 50 Healthy Habits For Managing Stress & Anxiety, tells Health. Meaning, these people didn't actually have pineapple juice—they had bromelain extract.
Worth noting, too: Research has only looked at the impact of having bromelain post-op—not before your surgery.
It's also difficult to compare things like pain and swelling after a person has wisdom tooth surgery, given how differently everyone reacts to it, Dr. Wolff says.
Also, there's this response from Jamie Alan, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University, to consider: "This is kind of ridiculous."
"There is some data that bromelain can act as a weak anti-inflammatory agent," she tells Health. "However, take this in context. Pineapple juice is really acidic. This is going to actually set off an inflammatory cascade in your mouth." Meaning, it's not going to make your mouth feel great, right before you go into surgery that will also hurt your mouth. And, if you happen to try this hack after your surgery, you could be in a world of pain, with the acid in the pineapple reacting to the wounds in your mouth, she points out.
Are there any risks with trying this?
While drinking pineapple juice is largely harmless, there are a few things that can go south here. One is that TikTokkers are recommending you drink 64 ounces of pineapple juice—that's a lot. "I'd be more concerned about the glycemic impact of drinking large amounts of fruit juice being detrimental to the healing process," Cording says. Meaning, your body needs to quickly process a lot of sugar in the juice, and you could face some serious energy spikes and crashes afterward…and feel terrible in the process.
"There's also the possibility of digestive discomfort," Cording says. Stomach aches, heartburn, diarrhea…they're all possibilities.
What else can you do to set yourself up for a successful recovery?
Dr. Wolff says one of the best things you can do is to take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like Motrin or Aleve to help reduce swelling after your surgery. "That does fairly well for pain, too," he says. "If you can reduce the swelling, you will likely reduce the pain."
Putting ice on the side of your face can also help with the swelling and pain, Dr. Wolff says. Salt water or hydrogen peroxide gargles can also help with swelling, Alan says, noting that you shouldn't swallow these.
If you want to try the pineapple juice hack and you feel like your stomach—and your mouth—can handle it, go for it. Just know that there's no concrete data that says this will actually do anything.
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