Drinking Alcohol After Wisdom Teeth Removal… Really?

Hand written by Dr David Chen, an actively practicing dentist and avid writer. #doctorswrite

We understand that you’ve had a long day after your wisdom tooth extraction and having a drink may help you unwind… But you know that drinking alcohol isn’t the best decision right?There are a lot of side effects that are detrimental to your recovery.

The GlenDronach 18

We’re not here to simply tell you that alcohol is bad for your health and you shouldn’t drink it. We’re going to give you some legitimate reasons to hold off on drinking until you’re healed.

After all, the picture above is of one of Dr. Chen’s favorite whiskies so its not as if we’re completely against alcohol. You’re probably itching to know when it is safe to drink again after getting those wisdom teeth removed! Worry not, we’ll help you out.

Adverse effects

There are legitimate adverse effects from drinking alcohol after wisdom teeth removal. Some of them are due to the direct effects of alcohol on healing. Others are from alcohol interacting with commonly prescribed medications after the surgical procedure.

Impairs blood clotting

The acidity of alcohol can impair the blood clotting process after extracting the wisdom teeth. Studies have shown that even a slight increase in acidity from a pH of 7.4 to 7.0 can increase the clotting time and decrease the clot firmness. That 0.4 change in pH had two notable effects:

  • A 25% increase in time required to form a blood clot.
  • A 25% decrease in the firmness of the blood clot.

Both of these are detrimental to stopping the bleeding after wisdom teeth removal. These results are also highly relevant because most types of alcohol are acidic.

Here is a list of some common alcoholic beverages:

  • Champagne = 2.9 pH
  • White wine = 3.1-3.4 pH
  • Red wine = 3.5-3.8 pH
  • Whisky = 3.6-4.7 pH
  • Vodka = 4-6 pH
  • Rum = 4.8 pH
  • Lager beer = 4.4-4.7 pH
  • Stout beer = 3.8 pH
  • Gin = 7 pH

Do you know what the worst part about all of this is? Most of the alcoholic drinks are significantly more acidic than both of the tested pH levels in the study. Based on the implications of the study, we can extrapolate and say that the clotting time and firmness should be significantly worse than 25%.

Drug Interactions

Adverse effects can result from the interaction of alcohol and commonly prescribed medications after taking out wisdom teeth.

  • Ibuprofen/Aspirin. Studies have shown that drinking and taking NSAIDs (ibuprofen or aspirin) can increase the risk for major upper gastrointestinal bleeding. The more you drink the greater the chances of it occurring.
  • Amoxicillin. According to the NHS, there is surprisingly no interactions between alcohol and the antibiotic, amoxicillin. Studies seem to indicate that drinking only affects the absorption rate but not the extent of absorption. In other words, it takes longer for the antibiotic to start working.
  • Acetaminophen. Tylenol may cause potential liver damage.
  • Prescription only pain-killers. The NHS states that the stronger prescription only pain medications can cause nausea and drowsiness when mixed with alcohol.

Exception – When its okay to drink alcohol

Surprisingly, the NHS makes a statement that it is actually OKAY to drink a small amount of alcohol while taking ibuprofen and acetaminophen. They say that in small quantities it is usually still considered safe.

Despite what they’ve said… we do not know what they mean by “a small amount” of alcohol. They did not clarify the exact quantity. Is it one drink or is it a sip? We don’t know…

Due to the ambiguity, we would say that it is safer to avoid alcohol altogether. Do you really want to take that risk?

It can burn

The acidity from alcohol can cause discomfort in the wisdom tooth hole. At best it may feel tingly but at worst it can cause a burning sensation.

Did you forget that applying alcohol on a wound can hurt? Think about all of the time you used rubbing alcohol on a cut or scrape. It stung really badly the moment the alcohol touched the open wound didn’t it?

Therefore drinking an alcoholic beverage while you have a fresh extraction socket may not be the best idea. Of course the more concentrated the drink such as hard liquor would be worse than the less concentrated beers.

When can I drink alcohol after wisdom tooth extraction?

You can have your alcoholic drink 7 days after taking out your wisdom teeth. The reason is because the dosages for the prescription medications are about a week long. You do not want to incur any alcohol-drug interactions while you’re taking the prescriptions.

With that being said, there is one situation where you can have alcohol earlier and that is if you do not take any pain medication. If you’re not taking any then there won’t be a drug interaction! If that is the case you can probably start drinking alcohol about 72 hours after wisdom teeth removal.

The reason for waiting 72 hours is because the acidity from alcohol can burn and also impair blood clotting. The clot should stabilize and the bleeding risk should be minimized to safe levels after the 3 day mark.

However, we’d be quite curious about how you have such high pain tolerance to not need any pain relievers…

Does the type of alcohol matter?

Unfortunately the type of alcohol does not change the outcome nor any of the side effects.

  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Liquor
  • Mixed drinks
  • Kombucha

Although the alcoholic drinks with more sugar in it are probably worse for you. They have an additional increased potential for causing tooth decay.

Can alcohol cause dry socket?

You won’t get a dry socket (alveolar osteitis) from drinking alcohol after removing your wisdom teeth because it is not a risk factor.

Risk factors for dry socket:

  • Smoking. Studies have shown that smokers (12%) are 3 times more likely to get dry socket vs non-smokers (4%).
  • Birth control. Studies have shown that the incidence of dry socket was significantly higher for those using birth control.
  • Middle of Menstrual cycle. In addition to taking birth control, researchers also found that women during the middle of a menstrual cycle were more likely to get it.
  • Had it before. If you’ve had alveolar osteitis in the past, you’re more likely to get it again.
  • Traumatic extraction. Particularly difficult extractions do increase the incidences of it.

Overall it seems like women may be more prone to getting the condition than men. Nonetheless, an important point you should understand is that dry socket is a biological process. It is not a result of a mechanical process such as drinking through a straw. No, straws do not cause dry sockets after wisdom teeth removal.

What it all means for you

You should abstain from alcohol for about a week after getting your wisdom teeth removed. This is to minimize bleeding risk, discomfort, and also drug-alcohol interactions.

However if you do not take any medication after the procedure, you may resume drinking a little earlier after 72 hours. There wouldn’t be any alcohol and drug interactions if you simply don’t take any medication. Although you’d need a very high pain tolerance to not need any pain relievers after surgically extracting the third molars…

Nonetheless, aside from not drinking do you remember the rest of the wisdom teeth removal aftercare instructions? We have a guide for you in case you forgot.

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The purpose of the content at afterva is to encourage you to seek in person care with a doctor. It's not nor was it ever meant to be a substitute for medical advice. Every situation is unique and impossible to diagnose without a clinical exam.

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