Updated: Nov 12
Drinking alcohol immediately after a dental filling will not adversely affect your new restoration but you should wait at least 3-4 hours before you do so. This includes all types of alcohol (beer, wine, whisky, gin, tequila, rum, vodka, etc).
That is the recommendation for how long you should wait to drink your alcoholic beverage. If you drink too soon there may be some adverse effects or consequences to deal with.
Alcohol doesn't affect fillings
It's not forbidden to drink alcohol after your filling because it doesn't affect the structural integrity of the restoration and I can think of two reasons why.
Reasons alcohol won't affect fillings:
Composite fillings will be fully cured before leaving the dentist appointment.
Bonding agents for fillings often contain alcohol.
Therefore, you can technically have your alcoholic beverage after your appointment if you really wanted to do so.
Fully cured fillings are stable
There is a misconception that you need to wait multiple hours before you can eat or drink with your new tooth filling because it affects the curing process. If you do it too soon, the filling may never set nor get hard.
That is not true because the composite fillings should be fully cured and hardened the minute that you get up from the dental chair.
Your dentist uses a curing light which hardens and sets the cavity filling within seconds. This device often shines a bright blue light which accelerates the curing process.
Bonding agents contain alcohol
Did you know that alcohol (ethanol) is a common solvent that is used in composite bonding agents. That means the bond that glues the composite resin to your tooth is composed of a type of alcohol. It's there as a solvent for the other ingredients in it.
Below is an image of one of the dental bonding adhesives that we use in our office along with the safety data sheet. As you can see, one of the ingredients in the adhesive is ethyl alcohol.
The example above isn't unique to that one adhesive because we've another example (Surpass) which also uses alcohol as a solvent. Below is an image of the surpass bonding agent along with the safety data sheet showing it contains ethyl alcohol.
What we're trying to say is that having a sip of alcohol will not ruin the filling in your mouth since it is a major ingredient in the bond. There's already ethanol in it so it's not as if it wasn't compatible.
To reassure you further, a lot of dentists like to use isopropyl alcohol to wipe their filling instruments to prevent sticking.
The white filling material can be very sticky but wiping the instrument with rubbing alcohol will prevent it from doing so.
This makes packing the composite into the cavity preparation a lot easier.
In summary, alcohol is not harmful nor does it impact the filling material. It is often used as a solvent for most dental adhesives.
Not recommended to drink immediately after
While you can drink alcohol right after a filling, we don't recommend doing it because there are consequences in doing so.
Why you shouldn't drink after a filling:
Altered taste. You were most likely numb for the filling procedure and the numbness can interfere with your taste buds. Your numb taste buds won't be able to taste your drink and that can ruin your drinking experience.
Drooling and unable to hold a drink. Have you tried drinking any type of beverage while you're still numb? Sometimes you drool and other times you spill it all over yourself because you can't tell where your lip is.
In conclusion, you will most likely have a very poor drinking experience if you decide to drink shortly after your filling. Most of the ill effects are due to the fact that you're still numb.
How long to wait before drinking alcohol
You should wait at least 3-4 hours or until the numbness from the local anesthesia wears off for the filling before you drink alcohol.
The 3-4 hours is the average time it takes for the most commonly used dental anesthetic, Lidocaine to wear off. However, there are some local anesthetics which can last longer than that which is why the ultimate deciding factor is when the numbness wears off.
Below is a chart showing the various dental anesthetics and how long the anesthesia lasts.
4% Articaine w/ 1:100k epi
Bupivacaine w/ 1:200k epi
2% Lidocaine w/ 1:100k epi
Depending on which anesthetic you received, you may need to wait longer before you can begin drinking alcohol. They all last for different durations of time.
If you wish to drink alcohol after a filling the best time to do it is after the numbness has worn off. On average that can take 3-4 hours but it could be longer if a more potent anesthetic was used.
That is the recommended wait time if you want to be able to appreciate your alcoholic drink without any adverse effects. After all, you can't really taste the drink as well if you do it while you're still numb.
You might as well wait for the numbness to go away so that you can thoroughly enjoying your relaxing experience with an alcoholic drink after a stressful visit at your dentist.