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Alcohol and Health

Is It Okay To Drink Alcohol After a Tooth Extraction?

August 7, 2023
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
August 7, 2023
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
August 7, 2023
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
August 7, 2023
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Reframe Content Team
August 7, 2023
8 min read

In the world of oral care, tooth extraction is a common procedure that's done for a multitude of reasons. Often, it's because of an impacted wisdom tooth or severe tooth decay. Post-surgery, our main focus is healing. And while we might long for the comfort of our usual glass of merlot, we need to consider whether alcohol will hinder our recovery process. If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering, “Can I drink alcohol after tooth extraction?”

The Science of Healing

After a tooth extraction, our body begins the healing process immediately by forming a blood clot in the socket where our tooth used to be. This clot is critical for protecting the underlying bone and nerves. It kick-starts the formation of new tissue, which is the first step towards complete recovery.

But here’s the catch — alcohol thins our blood and makes it more likely that a blood clot might get dislodged from its place, leading to a very painful condition known as "dry socket." It delays the healing process and may increase the risk of infection. And who wants a prolonged recovery time?

For complete recovery after tooth extraction, new tissues must form to fill in the area where the tooth used to be. Alcohol can impede this tissue regeneration by disrupting the activity of fibroblasts, cells that help with wound healing. Alcohol may also decrease the production of collagen (a protein necessary for tissue repair and regeneration), further slowing down the healing process.

The Immune System and Alcohol

The immune system plays a crucial role in fighting off any potential infections after surgery. Alcohol is known to suppress the immune system, making it harder for the body to fend off bacteria and germs. This suppression increases the risk of infections, prolonging the recovery period and potentially leading to complications. Despite its historical use as an antiseptic, alcohol actually impedes wound healing.

The Effects of Alcohol on Pain and Medication

Following tooth extraction, pain management can be crucial. Most dentists prescribe painkillers and antibiotics to ensure a comfortable and infection-free recovery. Alcohol, however, can interfere with these medications, reducing their effectiveness and potentially causing unwanted side effects. Mixing alcohol and pain meds? Definitely not a winning combo!

Dehydration Station

Another thing to consider is that alcohol is a diuretic, which means it promotes dehydration. Staying hydrated is vital after surgery to maintain a moist oral environment for optimal healing. Drinking alcohol might dry out your mouth, slowing down the recovery process.

Post-Tooth Extraction Tips

It seems pretty clear. Despite our longing for that glass of pinot or cold beer, it's best to bid adieu to alcohol following dental surgery, at least until we're fully healed.

  • Skip the alcohol. We can hear you thinking, “When can I drink alcohol after tooth extraction?” Make sure to avoid alcohol for at least 24-72 hours after surgery or as long as you're on pain medication. If you're unsure, consult with your dentist.
  • Follow your dentist's advice. Stick to the post-operative care instructions provided by your dentist.
  • Ice it right. Apply a cold compress or ice pack to the area for 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off during the first 24 hours to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water and sugar-free liquids to keep your mouth moist and facilitate healing. Enjoy hydrating herbal teas and coconut water instead of alcohol to promote healing.
  • Soft foods are your friends. Stick to soft and easy-to-eat foods like soup, yogurt, and mashed potatoes. 
  • Create a recovery meal plan. Whip up some delicious, nutritious soft food recipes like banana smoothies, avocado puddings, or creamy soups that won't irritate your gums.
  • Opt for alcohol-free mouthwash. Maintain oral hygiene without stinging the surgical site by choosing alcohol-free mouthwashes.
  • Pillow propping. Elevate your head while sleeping by propping up pillows to minimize bleeding and swelling.
  • Embrace mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Practice gentle yoga or meditation to ease post-surgery anxiety and promote overall well-being.
  • Keep a recovery journal. Log your daily progress and symptoms to discuss with your dentist in follow-up visits. Include notes on pain, comfort, and overall experience to help others on a similar journey.
  • Rest up. Avoid strenuous activities, and ensure you're getting plenty of sleep to aid your recovery.
  • Explore alcohol-free social activities. If you’re cutting back on alcohol, discover new hobbies and social gatherings that don’t revolve around drinking.
  • Establish a routine dental check-up schedule. Make a habit of regular dental appointments to catch potential problems early and maintain oral health.

If you want to know when you can drink alcohol after wisdom teeth removal, the same rules still apply. And remember, it's okay to skip the drinks. You can still be the life of the party, the Monopoly champion, the laughter instigator, and the memory-maker. Here's to more fun-filled, laughter-packed, and most importantly, healthier family nights!

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The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today! 

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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