Can You Drink Alcohol After Tooth Extraction?
Having your tooth extracted can be an unpleasant process, as you can experience some swelling and bruising around your face where the tooth was pulled from. So it’s important to take proper care of your oral health afterwards as well as take painkillers to make the healing process easier.
Beers, wines and spirits are popular in the UK, with data from 2019 showing that almost 50% of adults in the UK have an alcoholic drink at least once a week on average. But, while it may be tempting to have an alcoholic beverage after having your tooth extracted to help with the pain or simply because it’s a Friday night, you’re advised against drinking alcohol after tooth extraction.
Let’s look at why you need to avoid alcohol following your tooth extraction, how long for and what else you need to be careful of to help your gum heal.
Why Is a Tooth Extraction Necessary?
Dentists will try to avoid removing your teeth where possible as they’re necessary for our quality of life. There are some great alternatives for missing teeth but no option is permanent, so it’s best to keep our real teeth when we can. Sometimes, however, our teeth are not in good enough condition to remain, so dentists need to extract them.
Some reasons for tooth extractions include:
- Broken or fractured tooth
- Severe tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Dental abscess (tooth infection)
- Impacted tooth (usually wisdom teeth)
When you have an affected tooth that needs to be removed, a dentist will administer an anaesthetic to numb the area and prevent pain, before wiggling the tooth to remove it from its socket and pulling it out.
For wisdom tooth extraction, your dentist will usually be able to see from an x-ray in a check-up whether it will need to be extracted before it becomes too much of a problem. But if you have a tooth infection or sustained damage to your tooth, you may need to have an emergency tooth extraction.
How to Tell if You Need a Tooth Extraction
Having prolonged toothache that doesn’t go away with painkillers and severely impacts your daily life is a sign that you should book an appointment with an emergency dentist as soon as possible. They’ll take a look at your teeth to see what’s causing the problem and decide if you need a tooth extraction. They may give you antibiotics for a tooth infection, or simply give you painkillers and ask you to come back for a tooth extraction in a routine appointment.
However, if the tooth needs to be extracted straight away because it’s dangerous due to being broken or causing extreme pain, a dentist can extract a tooth in an emergency appointment.
Why You Need to Be Careful About What You Eat and Drink After Tooth Extraction
A tooth extraction can be a simple procedure taking anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on what kind of extraction needs to be done and how difficult the tooth is to remove. However, after every tooth extraction, you need to follow your dentist’s advice on what you can do, eat and drink to enable your gum to heal well.
Immediately after the tooth extraction, you’ll be given a wad of gauze by the dentist to bite down on for a couple of minutes to put pressure on the site where the tooth was removed from and prevent bleeding. Over the next 24 hours, a blood clot will form in that area, protecting the hole in your gum, known as the tooth socket, from being exposed to bacteria and food particles to help it heal.
A blood clot is essentially a kind of scab, so as your mouth is moist, a jelly-like reddish-brown blob will form over the socket, encouraging your nerves to heal and regrow, and keeping the area clean. It’s imperative to have a blood clot over the socket for the gum to heal and to prevent pain from what’s known as a dry socket. Some food and drink as well as certain actions can dislodge the blood clot, causing a dry socket, and preventing the area from healing sufficiently.
With a healthy blood clot, the hole in your gum should be sufficiently healed within 7 days so you can return to eating and drinking as normal.
Food and Drink to Avoid After Tooth Extraction
If you’ve had a tooth extracted, there will be some foods you will naturally want to avoid to prevent pain or crumbs from entering the wound site, but others may surprise you.
For at least 72 hours after tooth extraction, you should avoid consuming:
- Crunchy foods
- Crumbly foods
- High sugar foods
- Spicy foods
- Fizzy drinks
- Very hot or very cold food or drink
Each of these food and drink types can risk hurting the area where the tooth was removed, infecting it with bacteria, or simply dislodging the blood clot and preventing the site from healing well, so should be avoided for at least the first few days for the blood clot to stabilise and begin to shrink.
If you still have sensitivity in the area after 3 days, stick to soft foods for at least 7 days.
When drinking after having your tooth removed, you should also avoid using straws for around 7 days. Drinking through a straw will create a suction which can cause the blood clot to dislodge and leave the wound open, so simply sip your drinks from a cup instead. This is also why dentists advise not to brush your teeth or spit for the first 24 hours following tooth extraction as the action is likely to remove the blood clot and prevent healing.
When Can You Drink Alcohol After a Tooth Extraction?
Advice regarding alcohol consumption following a tooth extraction varies from dentist to dentist, with some suggesting a minimum of 24 hours, and others saying you should avoid alcohol for a full week. While it does depend slightly on how well your wound is healing and the blood clot is shrinking, you should avoid alcohol for at least 5 days, although ideally 7 to 10 days to ensure the blood clot is in place and helping your gum to heal.
Alcohol is a diuretic and thins your blood which makes blood clot formation more difficult, which is why alcohol should be avoided following most surgeries, including tooth extraction. If you’re in pain and considering an alcoholic drink to relieve you, take a painkiller instead; ibuprofen will help relieve swelling, dull the pain and won’t risk harming the blood clot formation.
Private Vs NHS Dentists
While the NHS is a great system in principle, it lacks a lot of funds and staff in both hospitals and dental practices, meaning there are many more benefits of seeing a private dentist than waiting for an NHS dental appointment. With more private dental practices, more appointment times available, cosmetic dentistry and more high-tech dental equipment available for use, private dental practices are highly recommended.
The price of a private tooth extraction can be high, but if your tooth is causing you great pain, it’s much better to have it taken out as soon as possible for a slightly higher price than wait for months to have it done on the NHS and potentially have a tooth infection spread to other teeth, worsening the pain and the problem.
You can’t go to your GP for dental issues and hospitals will only treat severe dental problems where the individual’s life may be at stake i.e. they are losing the ability to speak or breathe due to swelling, so registering at a private dentist to maintain your dental hygiene is your best choice.
Didsbury Dental Practice – 24 Hour Manchester Dentist
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