Can You Play a Wind Instrument After a Tooth Extraction?

Posted on: 26 May 2016

If you're having a tooth extracted, you need to take a lot of care of the extraction site to make sure that it heals correctly. To ensure that this happens, your dentist is likely to give you a long list of instructions, telling what you should and shouldn't do following your surgery.

As well as telling you how to take care of your extraction site, these instructions may also limit any of your regular activities that might impact your wound and its healing. If you play a wind instrument, you may well be told not to play for a period of time. But why is playing your instrument after extraction surgery a potential problem?

Playing and the Blood Clot

When you have a tooth removed, the extraction site bleeds until it forms a blood clot over the hole. During your first few days after an extraction, this blood clot plays a major part in helping your gum heal. It basically plugs the hole, helping keep it clean and free from infection, allowing things to heal behind the scenes.

The problem with this blood clot is that it is relatively fragile and can be dislodged. For example, this may happen if you knock the clot with your tongue or toothbrush. Clots may also fall out if there is a pressure change in your mouth caused by sucking or blowing. This is why your dentist will typically tell you to avoid drinking through a straw and even blowing your nose or sneezing violently for the first day or so after your extraction.

The same principle applies to playing wind instruments that require you to suck in breath and blow regularly. If you tell your dentist that you play this kind of instrument, you're likely to be told to give it a rest for at least the first few days after you've had your tooth out to avoid harming the blood clot.

Tip: While a small blood clot may seem insignificant, it's very important to do your best to protect the clot. If you lose a clot, you're at a higher risk of developing a dry socket, an extremely painful problem that may occur when an extraction site loses its clot protection.

Playing and Pain

Your dentist may also advise you to give your instrument a rest on the basis that playing may actually hurt after an extraction. In some cases, you can play with just a little discomfort. But if you have a wisdom tooth removed or a have to have a more complex extraction, you may find that it hurts a lot to play. Waiting until things have had a little time to settle down may be more sensible.

When Can You Play Again?

There is no hard and fast rule on how long you'll need to wait before you can start playing again. Typically, your dentist will make a judgement call based on the complexity of the extraction, your estimated healing time and perhaps even the type of wind instrument you play. In some cases, your dentist may simply tell you to take a couple of days off from playing; in others you may need to wait longer.

Dentists don't generally include guidance on playing wind instruments after extractions, so you'll need to ask how the procedure will impact your ability to play. If you have an important exam or performance coming up, it may be worth talking to your dentist to arrange the extraction time to best fit your schedule.