We’ve all heard the expression “it’s like pulling teeth”, meaning something unpleasant and laborious that we don’t want to do.
But most people would still rather pull teeth than having them pulled.
Nevertheless, it’s an unfortunate fact of life that this is a procedure many people have to endure.
If you’re a coffee lover who is soon heading for the dentist’s chair, you might well be asking the question, can you drink coffee after tooth extraction? Here we have a look in more detail at the procedure to bring you the answers you’re looking for.
Check out this video if you want to know what to do after you have a tooth extracted.
Why do we need to have our teeth extracted?
Before we think about drinking coffee after tooth extraction, we need to have a look in a bit more detail at the procedure itself. Let’s start with why people need to have their teeth pulled in the first place.
One reason is trauma to the teeth. Sometimes, if your teeth are damaged, a dentist is able to repair them. However, if the damage is too severe, teeth may need to be removed.
Another reason is decay. We need to take good care of our teeth by brushing at least twice a day and by avoiding sugary foods. If our teeth are allowed to decay, they may also need to be taken out.
One more common cause for the removal of teeth is having a crowded mouth. If our teeth don’t grow straight or are too big for our mouths, there might not be space for all of them.
This is especially common in people who require orthodontic treatment. When teeth are straightened, sometimes there is not enough space for them all and some need to be removed.
Sometimes teeth also need to be removed where there is an infection if it can’t be treated with antibiotics or root canal therapy.
There are many other reasons why a tooth may need to be removed but these are some of the most common.
What is the procedure?
The procedure for removing a tooth may vary depending on whether it is a simple removal or if a surgical removal is required.
A simple removal is usually carried out under local anaesthetic. The tooth is gripped using dental forceps and is rocked back and forth to break the ligament that attaches it to the bone before being pulled out.
Surgical removals are when the simple technique can’t be used because the tooth is not accessible or if it is under the gum. These removals require an incision and are commonly done under general anaesthetic.
Sometimes teeth cannot be removed in one go and it is necessary to break them.
Each removal is unique and may have its own particular difficulties and complications depending on the mouth of the patient.
After the removal
After the tooth is removed, a blood clot needs to form to stem the bleeding and to protect the hole where the tooth was.
Once the tooth is removed, the dentist will usually apply a gauze which the patient then bites down on to help stop the bleeding and to allow the blot clot to form.
Sometimes the gum is closed with stitches, usually of the dissolvable kind.
From this point, there is a risk of infection of the hole where the tooth was and the surrounding gums and care should be taken to avoid this.
After the extraction, the gauze should be changed when it becomes soaked in blood; otherwise, it needs to be changed every three hours for the first day. After a few days, it needs to be changed less frequently, perhaps three or four times per day (1).
It is extremely important to allow a blood clot to form, and once it has formed, it is important not to dislodge it. For the first 24 hours, you should not rinse your mouth at all. After this, you should rinse gently with a salt water solution.
For the first 24 hours, you should also avoid spitting or drinking with a straw for the same reason (sucking on a straw can dislodge the blood clot).
You should not smoke for at least three days after the procedure.
The site of the extraction may take up to several months to fully heal, but you should already start to feel much better after only a week or so. The first 24-48 hours are the most important.
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There is one complication worth pointing out at this stage and that is something known as a “dry socket”. As we have already mentioned, it is very important to let a blood clot form. This is the body’s natural way of protecting itself and healing the wound.
However, if the blood clot is dislodged or dissolved, it can result in a dry socket. This sometimes extremely painful condition is where there is no clot protecting the hole; the bone where the tooth used to be is left exposed.
In order to avoid dry socket, so you should take extreme care not to dislodge or dissolve the blood clot. This condition is more common after the removal of wisdom teeth.
So what about coffee?
So now we know the basics of tooth removal, how long do you have to wait before you can have your first brew?
Well, the good news is that there is nothing in coffee that makes it unsuitable for someone who has just had a tooth removed. Specifically, the caffeine in coffee will not cause any complications after the procedure.
Now let’s break it down into stages.
Immediately after the extraction, you probably won’t feel like eating or drinking anything anyway. The most sensible advice at this point is to wait at least until the numbness from the anaesthesia has passed.
If you consume hot drinks while your mouth is still numb, you risk burning your mouth, tongue or throat.
You will be pleased to hear that coffee is on the list of foods and drinks recommended for patients who have just had a tooth removed.
Once the numbness has passed, you are free to have your first coffee. Since you will want to avoid dry socket, for the first 24 hours, you should only drink lukewarm coffee. Hot drinks can cause the clot to dissolve and are best avoided.
At this point, sugary drinks, acidic drinks, sodas and alcohol are also not recommended – so it’s probably also wise not to load your first cups of coffee with sugar, even if that’s how you usually prefer it.
After the first 24 hours, you can start to drink warm coffee – but make sure it’s not too hot. Remember, that blood clot is still in your mouth protecting the gap where your tooth was and if it becomes dislodged, you may still suffer from dry socket.
After the first 24 hours, you should begin washing your mouth regularly with a saline solution. You should also begin brushing your teeth as normal, just avoiding the site of the extraction.
After the first week or so, the site of the extraction will have begun repairing itself and your risk of dry socket will have receded.
While you should continue to take care – and it is certainly not recommended that you should start drinking scalding hot coffee – by this point, you can begin to return to your normal dietary habits.
The advice related to the withdrawal of wisdom teeth is the same as for other teeth. With wisdom teeth, the risk of dry socket is raised, so extra care should be taken to avoid it.
Specifically, avoid any hot drinks for at least 24 hours and stick to only lukewarm drinks during this period. Check out this video on what to do after having your wisdom teeth out.
For the first 24 hours especially, and even for the following few days, you are advised to eat soft, cool foods and to avoid hot drinks. Avoid hot, crunchy foods which may damage the protective clot.
You should also avoid the kinds of food which can easily become stuck between your teeth like popcorn and nuts.
Recommended drinks other then coffee include juice, milk, tea – and plenty of water.
When can you drink hot liquids after a tooth extraction? It depends on how the procedure goes in each individual case, but within a couple of weeks, you should be more or less back to normal.
After an extraction, you should avoid physical exertion as much as possible. If you exercise, it causes your heart to beat faster and blood to pump around your body faster. This may lead to excessive bleeding at the site of the extraction. Several days of rest is preferable.
If you have any doubts or concerns, you are strongly advised to contact your dentist.
After the procedure, if you suffer from infection, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, redness, heavy swelling, excessive discharge or bleeding, you should contact your dentist.
If you suffer from coughing, shortness of breath or chest pains, you should seek medical help immediately.
Check out this video for some more tips.
Good news then…kind of
Let’s face it, nobody wants to have their teeth pulled out, but it’s something many of us have to go through at some stage of our lives. Fortunately, the small silver lining is that we don’t have to wait too long before we can have our first cup of beloved coffee after it’s over!
Have you had your teeth out? How was the experience? How long before you started drinking coffee again? Let us know your thoughts – we always love hearing from you. And if you enjoyed reading, please don’t forget to share!