Can I Smoke After A Tooth Extraction?
For people who smoke cigarettes, it can be incredibly challenging to take even a short break from smoking, but it is very important to do so following a dental extraction. Despite the strength of your urges to smoke, dentists strongly recommend waiting at least 72 hours following the extraction of teeth, including wisdom teeth, before smoking any cigarettes at all. The forceful inhalations involved with smoking, along with the toxins and chemicals in cigarette smoke, adversely affect and delay the healing process and may even cause serious complications, including infection and dry socket. Following a dental extraction, a protective blood clot forms in the space where the tooth once was; this blood clot helps heal the nerve endings and bone that live in the extraction site and is a vital part of the healing process. Forceful inhalation can dislodge this helpful blood clot, and the chemicals from tobacco slow healing. When this blood clot is dislodged before healing is complete, a dry socket remains. Not only is a dry socket painful, it leads to delays in healing and should be avoided. A dry socket is characterized by a foul smell at the extraction site, combined with intense pain that can spread throughout the jaw area and difficulty opening the mouth.
Medical studies suggest that dry socket occurs in up to 12 percent of smokers, while only 4 percent of non-smokers experience this painful complication. Many dentists and oral surgeons recommend to their patients who smoke that they use their wisdom tooth extraction procedure as a catalyst to quit smoking entirely, suggesting that they try cessation for 72 hours and see if they can make not smoking a new habit. It is undeniably challenging, but the health benefits of quitting smoking are widely known and contribute significantly to overall health, both oral and otherwise. Some patients benefit from reducing tobacco intake for the weeks preceding a planned wisdom teeth extraction, which helps them wean themselves of the habit. If you’d like to use your extraction surgery as a catalyst to help you quit smoking, ask your dentist for resources and guidance. If you are not interested in quitting, you may want to use a nicotine patch following surgery; do not, however, use cigarette alternatives like nicotine gum or chewing tobacco, which are just as bad for your healing, if not worse, than smoking. If you absolutely must smoke within the first 72 hours after your extraction surgery, try to smoke as infrequently as possible and try to inhale and exhale as gently as you can. Be transparent with your oral surgeon, who may place stitches at your surgical site to protect the healing blood clot and prevent a dry socket. Your oral surgeon may also recommend packing your surgical site with gauze to protect the clot. While not smoking at all is vastly preferable, medical professionals understand how challenging it is to control an addictive habit like cigarette smoking, so be sure to be honest and realistic with your oral surgeon to help your healing process to be as smooth and painless as possible.
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