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Drinking Alcohol After Wisdom Teeth Removal... Really?

You should wait at least 7 days before you can drink alcohol after wisdom teeth removal if you're taking prescription medication. However, if you're not taking any medications you can potentially have alcohol 72 hours after your surgery.


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When you can drink alcohol after wisdom tooth extraction

After removing your wisdom teeth, you should wait at least 7 days before drinking alcohol because you'll probably be taking prescription medications for a week. You do not want to incur any alcohol-drug interactions while you're taking the prescriptions which can lead to adverse effects such as delayed healing.


lower right wisdom tooth extraction
lower right wisdom tooth extraction

Soonest you can drink alcohol after wisdom teeth

If you're not taking any prescription medication after the extraction, you can resume drinking alcohol after 72 hours. You can drink sooner because you're no longer at risk for drug-alcohol interactions.


However, you still need to wait at least 72 hours because the alcohol can disturb the blood clot and that may result in increased bleeding. After 72 hours, the clot should've stabilized enough for you to have your alcoholic beverage.


 

Adverse effects of alcohol after wisdom teeth removal

If you drink alcoholic beverages while recovering from wisdom teeth removal there will be adverse effects: impaired blood clotting, drug-alcohol interactions, and it can burn.


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.


Notable effects of 0.4 change in pH:

  • A 25% increase in time required to form a blood clot.

  • A 25% decrease in the firmness of the blood clot.


stabilized blood clot in wisdom tooth hole
stabilized blood clot in wisdom tooth hole

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.


pH of 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


The worst part about this is that most of the alcoholic drinks are significantly more acidic than the tested pH levels in the study above. The implications are that the clotting time and firmness should be significantly worse than 25% if you drink alcohol.


Drug-Alcohol 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.

  • Amoxicillin. According to the NHS, there is surprisingly no interactions between alcohol and the antibiotic, amoxicillin. Studies 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 painkillers. The NHS states that the stronger prescription only pain medications can cause nausea and drowsiness when mixed with alcohol.

  • Metronidazole. Potential flushing, headache, nausea/vomiting, and a rapid heart rate.

  • Linezolid. Can cause a dangerous increase in blood pressure.


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? Due to the ambiguity, our dentists in long Island city's recommendation is that it is safer to avoid alcohol altogether. It's not a risk worth taking.


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. This is similar to how Listerine which has ethanol can burn.


upper wisdom tooth hole
upper wisdom tooth hole

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.


 

Can alcohol cause dry socket?

You won't get a dry socket (alveolar osteitis) from drinking alcohol after removing your wisdom teeth because it's 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 any mechanical processes such as .



Does the type of alcohol matter?

The type of alcohol does not change the outcome nor any of the side effects. Drinking anything alcoholic after wisdom teeth extractions will still give you the same adverse effects.


Types of alcohol:

  • 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.


 

What this all means for you

You should abstain from drinking alcohol for about a week after getting your wisdom teeth removed. That will minimize bleeding risk, discomfort, and drug-alcohol interactions.


However if you do not take any medication after the procedure, you may resume drinking earlier such as 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...

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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