Smoking After Tooth Extraction: What You Should Know

If you’ve just had a tooth extraction and you are a smoker, you may be wondering if and when it is advisable to start smoking after the procedure. However, it is essential to know that smoking immediately after tooth extraction can essentially double or triple your healing time.

This article highlights all you need to know about smoking after tooth extraction.

What Will Happen If I Smoke After Tooth Extraction?

After a tooth extraction, you’ll be advised to quit smoking for at least five days. The reason behind this is that smoking after the extraction procedure can be a reason for different complications.

1. Delayed Healing Process

Blood clot

The time after tooth removal is very delicate. After extraction, a blood clot is formed on the socket and the special cells that play an essential role in wound healing are generated and the process of bone creation is started. Smoking can damage this natural reaction thereby delaying the healing process.

2. High Blood Pressure And Dizziness

When you smoke, it causes an increase in your blood pressure which can cause the extraction wound to start bleeding again and also cause dizziness.

3. Pain

Pain

If the healing process is interfered with by smoking, you can feel throbbing and extreme pain at the surgery site. This is because tobacco causes immediate damage to the tissue cells.

4. Risk Of Getting An Infection

The amount of oxygen in your blood if you are a smoker is reduced and the amount of carbon monoxide is increased. Carbon monoxide decreases the amount of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues.

At the site of the extraction, oxygen and nutrients are needed to aid the healing process. The decrease caused by the carbon monoxide hampers the healing process. This, in turn, leads to increased pain and a higher risk of getting an infection.

5. Dry socket

This is also known as alveolar osteitis. This is a very painful condition that occurs when the blood clot formed on the extraction socket is dislodged. The sucking action performed while smoking can dislodge the clot and the pain felt is worse than the tooth extraction.

Among the warning signs of dry socket is pain at the extraction site, bad breath, bad taste in the mouth, ear pain, and swollen lymph nodes. Call your dentist as soon as possible if you experience any of these symptoms!

How Long Should I Wait to Smoke After a Tooth Extraction?

Wait

If you are a chronic smoker, you may want to know how long to wait before having the first cigarette. Although smoking is never recommended, your dentist would suggest you hold off from smoking for at least 72 hours or three days.

At this time there is a lower chance of developing a dry socket or other complications. The longer you wait, the faster the healing process.

The minimum wait time usually starts at three days, but it can be longer if you’ve had multiple extractions or a wisdom tooth removal. This healing time will allow blood clots to form and start the healing process quickly and it will be harder to disrupt this process after three days.

If you can’t resist and decide to start smoking earlier, try, at least, to rinse your mouth with warm salt water after each smoking act. Do this also after eating or drinking.

These preventive measures don’t guarantee that you will avoid any complications but they offer some form of protection. It is advisable that you follow your dentist’s recommendations to avoid prolonging the healing process and ensure all goes smoothly.

How does Smoking Affect my mouth?

Bad breath

Smoking generally affects overall health. Apart from delaying wound healing following an extraction and the other complications, it can also cause these dental problems –

  •  Bad breath
  •  Tooth discoloration and stains
  •  An increased build-up of bacterial plaque and tartar on the teeth which leads to poor oral hygiene.
  •  Increased loss of bone within the jaw
  •  Increased risk of leukoplakia, white patches inside the mouth and on the tongue.
  • Increased risk of developing gum disease: Smoking affects the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth. This is a leading cause of tooth loss. More specifically, smoking interferes with the normal functioning of cells in the gum and this makes smokers more susceptible to infections, such as periodontal disease
  • Increased risk of developing oral cancer: Cigars and cigarettes contain harmful chemicals that have been shown to increase the risk of oral cancer.
  • Gum irritation and recession: Smoking cigarettes and smokeless tobacco can irritate your gum tissue, causing it to recede or pull away from your teeth. Once the gum tissue recedes, your teeth roots become exposed. The exposed roots are now more sensitive to hot and cold drinks and food. This makes eating and drinking uncomfortable.

Cold drink

How Can I Stop Smoking?

Stop smoking

If you have a tooth extracted, this may be the best time to start your ‘quit smoking’ plan. When you are forced to stay away from smoking for dental reasons, it may be easier to continue to stay away from cigarettes afterward.

Since nicotine is the main active ingredient in cigarettes, quitting smoking can be achieved by your doctor helping you calm your nicotine cravings with medications, such as nicotine gum and patches. This is called nicotine replacement therapy.

Some of these products can be bought over the counter; others require a doctor’s prescription. Smoking cessation classes and support groups are often used in conjunction with drug therapy.

If you’re not interested in quitting smoking, the following tips may help reduce your risk of complications
•Switch to a nicotine patch.
•Wait at least 48 hours after your extraction before smoking. When you resume smoking, inhale very gently.
•Ask your dentist to put stitches on your extraction site.
•Put some gauze over the hole while smoking.
•Avoid nicotine gum or chewing tobacco.

In Summary

Conclusion
Smoking immediately after a tooth extraction procedure is not advisable. If you are a smoker, check with your dentist about when the right time would be to begin smoking again. While 72 hours is an average, your particular case may be different depending on your body and the extent of surgery performed.

Do not allow a cigarette or two to elongate the healing process. Ensure the health of your mouth by not smoking after a tooth extraction.

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Onyeka Mgbemere, BDS

Dr. Onyeka Mgbemere is a graduate of Dentistry and a licensed dentist who is passionate about the promotion of oral health education and prevention of oral diseases. She is currently undergoing her residency program in Oral medicine after spending years working at a Naval hospital. Her hobbies are watching movies and reading.