Updated October 2021
If you are a smoker, have you ever wondered if you can smoke after a tooth extraction? There could be many reasons for tooth extraction. Extractions may sound like long, complicated processes, but they are actually fairly common, particularly when it comes to removing the third molar or wisdom teeth. However, some people need extractions for other reasons. This could be because of bad oral hygiene practices, or external factors, such as smoking habits. This article explains why you should not smoke after a tooth extraction.
Why Do Smokers Need Tooth Extractions?
While not all smokers will need to have teeth removed, the fact remains that the most common reason for extractions in smokers is their susceptibility to periodontal diseases, particularly gingivitis. Smoking cigarettes can cause inflammation in the gums, hastening the production of cytokines, which can lead to periodontal diseases. In fact, wisdom teeth happen to be in the perfect location for bacterial growth, since brushing and cleaning them properly can be a challenge. If you are a smoker, your habit can give rise to more severe problems by introducing nicotine to these bacteria.
What Happens If You Smoke After A Tooth Extraction?
Although standard extractions are relatively simple procedures, in certain situations the process can be more complex – and in either case, if a patient smokes afterward, it can cause a whole host of new problems. After a tooth is removed, the site of extraction is very delicate. A blood clot is formed in the empty socket, and special cells called fibroblasts that play an essential role in healing wounds are generated in the area. This is also the time when the bone creation process is just kicking off. When you smoke, it increases your blood pressure, which can then provoke bleeding and make you feel dizzy.
If the healing process is disrupted by smoking, it can cause severe pain in the surgery site. This is because tobacco causes damage to the healing tissue. In fact, because smokers often have large amounts of carbon monoxide in their blood, this decreases the amount of oxygen and nutrients that can reach the wound, which then can slow down and even hamper healing. The lack of oxygen could even make the wound more painful, and result in higher risk of post-surgery infection.
Another major problem with smoking after a tooth extraction is that the sucking action involved could dislodge the blood clot that is formed at the surgery site, which can cause a dry socket.
A dry socket is called an alveolar osteitis. The socket is a hole in the jawbone, and the blood clot is there to keep your nerves from being exposed. However, if the clot becomes dislodged, nerves are exposed and will lead to an infection almost immediately, which can cause severe pain for up to a week.
It is best to avoid smoking entirely, particularly after an extraction. However, if the habit has become too addictive you may start experiencing withdrawals, but at the very least, wait 72 hours before you smoke again. While it is best to put it off as long as possible, after 72 hours healing has already started and the likelihood of dry socket decreases. If you absolutely can’t wait this long, you should rinse your mouth with warm salt water after each smoke. This would not reduce the risk of dry socket but will provide a bit more protection.
If you have questions or concerns about tooth extraction, please call us immediately at 416-232-2033.
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