If you are getting your wisdom tooth extracted, you’ll be advised by your dentist to stop smoking for at least five days. Like any other surgery, after extraction of wisdom tooth, you will experience some post-operative complications. Smoking after wisdom teeth removal can lead to complications, such as a dry socket, and extended recovery time. (1)
It is not just wisdom teeth. Smoking after tooth extraction will damage tissue cells and result in slow healing.
Why are smokers at high risk of tooth extraction?
Most people who smoke are more prone to gum inflammation and other periodontal diseases, typically gingivitis. Wisdom tooth is the best site for bacterial growth, as it is difficult to brush and it mostly comes as impacted.
Inflammation of wisdom tooth is common in smokers. Before the infected wisdom tooth leads to other dental problems, it is advised to get it removed.
What happens if you smoke after wisdom tooth extraction?
You are advised to avoid smoking for a few days after the extraction of wisdom tooth. The reason behind this is that the sucking actions during smoking puts pressure on the clot and displaces it from its natural position and leading to a condition known as dry socket.
When you smoke, your blood pressure increases at the site of surgery, provoking bleeding and leading to dizziness. If healing interferes with smoking, you can feel throbbing and extreme pain at the surgery site.
This happens because tobacco causes the damage to tissue cells. The blood of smokers contains carbon monoxide that decreases the amount of oxygen and nutrients available to the tissues of the wound area.
The lack of oxygen causes painful healing and a higher risk of getting an infection. Also, it will interfere with the healing process.
The common post-operative tooth extraction complications due to smoking are –
- High blood pressure
- Slower healing process (2)
- Increased risk of getting an infection
- Nerve damage leading to pain and numbness
- Dry socket
Dry socket due to smoking after wisdom teeth removal
Dry socket can be even more painful than a tooth extraction. Removal of wisdom tooth can be a very unpleasant experience, but the real pain may come if a dry socket is developing afterward.
In a dry socket, the blood clot gets displaced, and the infection develops immediately in the socket resulting in very intense pain. (3)
A dry socket, also called alveolar osteitis, is a hole in the bone is associated with intense pain around the surgery site and an extended healing period.
Soon after the wisdom teeth extraction, a blood clot forms over the area where the tooth was present. The clot forms the foundation for the healing tissue and protects the underlying bone and nerves.
Smoking can dislodge the blood clot leaving the bone and nerve exposed to the air, food, and microbes in your mouth at the surgery site and lead to a condition known as dry socket. (4)
How long should you wait to smoke after tooth extraction?
It can be very challenging for a smoker to stop smoking tobacco temporarily, but it is necessary not to smoke after the oral surgery for at least 72 hours. The longer you wait, the faster will be the healing process.
Your dentist will tell you not to smoke, but your addictive nature will make it difficult to do so. Waiting for at least 3-4 days can largely reduce the possibility of complications.
It is an excellent opportunity for you to quit smoking for good and you may take surgery as a good starting point to help you quit permanently. Do not smoke until you can see in the mirror that your gums look initially healed.
Teeth extraction aftercare
Generally, the sockets should take about two weeks to 1 month to cover over with solid gum tissue after the surgery for removal of wisdom tooth. A proper oral care routine is necessary for reducing the chances of complication after surgery.
Following are some tips for wisdom teeth surgery aftercare –
- Make sure that there is no food debris in the socket and keep the extraction site clean.
- Apply ice on the site of surgery, as ice helps in numbing the pain.
- Avoid brushing or flossing in the area of the site for at least the first three days.
- Gently rinse the area after meals, snacks and before bed.
- Do not drink from a straw for the first few days.
- Avoid hot, carbonated, or alcoholic beverages and hot or spicy foods.
- Apply moist heat to any swelling, or rinse with warm salt water two to three times a day for one week.
- Avoid smoking for at least 3-4 days.
- Don’t hesitate to contact your dentist if you experience any symptoms like pain at the surgical site, bad breath, bad taste, ear pain, and swollen lymph nodes.
Over to you on smoking after tooth extraction
It would be better if you could leave smoking once for all. But especially, whenever you go for any kind of tooth extraction procedure, it is vital that you do not smoke for at least 72 hours post extraction.
Smoking after wisdom teeth removal or any other tooth extraction can aggravate your dental complications. Dry socket is an extremely painful condition and you might regret smoking if it forms.