Should You Have a Tooth Extracted When You Have a Cold?

Posted on: 2 June 2016

If you're due to have a tooth removed and you have a nasty cold, you may be wondering whether you should reschedule the extraction until you feel a little better. In some cases, your dentist may advise you to wait until you've recovered from your cold on the basis that your cold may affect the extraction itself and the subsequent healing process. How can a cold affect a tooth extraction?

Colds and Anaesthesia

If you're having a local anaesthetic, your cold may not be an issue. Your dentist may be more concerned if you have a bad cold and you're due to have a general anaesthetic for a tricky tooth removal like a wisdom tooth. This is especially the case if you're running a high temperature or if your cold has spread to your chest and is affecting your breathing. These issues may increase the risk that you'll get respiratory problems during the anaesthetic. If your cold is bad enough, your dentist may want to wait until the cold has run its course before removing your tooth.

Colds and Post-Extraction Clotting

If you have a cold that is making you sneeze or blow your nose all the time, your cold may affect how your tooth's socket heals after your extraction. Once your dentist removes your tooth, the socket will bleed until blood clots over the hole. This blood clot is a pivotal part of the healing process. The clot covers the extraction hole and protects its interior, allowing it to start healing.

The problem with these clots is that they are relatively fragile. For example, you might knock a clot out when you brush your teeth; clots can also be sucked out of position if the pressure in your mouth changes suddenly. If you lose this blood clot too soon, your socket loses its external protection. If the inside of the socket is exposed to the air, you may get a painful condition known as dry socket and may need additional treatment from your dentist.

While sneezing and blowing your nose may not seem connected to your teeth, both of these activities can create a sudden and sometimes violent change of pressure in your oral cavity. A massive sudden sneeze or a prolonged bout of deep nose-clearing blowing may be enough to make the blood clot come loose and fall out.

If you develop a cold shortly before your extraction date, you should call your dentist and ask for advice on whether you should still go ahead. While a feverish or chesty cold may require rescheduling if you're having a general anaesthetic, a regular head cold may not be enough of a reason to reschedule. However, it's still useful for your dentist to know that you have a cold and may be sneezing or blowing your nose more than usual. Your dentist will be able to give you advice on how to prevent your cold from affecting the healing process. For example, your dentist may recommend that you stick to gentle nose blowing or that you try to sneeze with your mouth open to reduce the pressure in your mouth for the first few days after your extraction.