Tooth extraction is performed by a dentist or oral surgeon and is a relatively quick outpatient procedure with either local, general, intravenous anesthesia, or a combination. Removing visible teeth is a simple extraction. Teeth that are broken, below the surface, or impacted require a more involved procedure.
Excessive tooth decay, tooth infection, and crowding can all require a tooth extraction. Those who get braces may need one or two teeth removed to provide room for their other teeth as they shift into place. Additionally, those who are undergoing chemotherapy or are about to have an organ transplant may need compromised teeth removed in order to keep their mouth healthy.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA) Mouth Healthy site, smoking and tobacco use cause stained teeth, bad breath and a diminished sense of taste. Over time, smoking can hinder your immune system, producing more concerning side-effects that include a reduced ability to recover after surgery. Because of this, smoking is also one of the most significant risk factors associated with gum or periodontal disease, which causes inflammation around the tooth. This irritation can affect the bone and other supporting structures, and its advanced stages can result in tooth loss.
The use of tobacco – especially smokeless tobacco – increases your risk of oral cancer as well, which can be aggressive due to the abundance of blood vessels and lymph nodes in your head and neck. Ultimately, the effects of smoking on teeth can lead to tooth decay, and pose a challenge with restorative dentistry. Because tobacco causes tooth discoloration, the aesthetic results of this treatment are not always ideal – both extrinsic and intrinsic. In addition, gum recession can cause uneven margins on crowns and other restorations.
How Smoking Leads to Complications
According to dental experts the act of smoking can interrupt the healing process, any use of tobacco products after oral surgery can delay healing and increase the risk of complications. This is because chemicals in cigarettes, weeds or other forms of tobacco may prevent or slow healing and contaminate the wound site. The Mayo Clinic suggests that if you smoke or use tobacco, don’t do so for at least 48 hours after surgery, and as long as you can after that.
How Does Smoking Increase Dry Socket Risk?
According to studies smoking can also increase your risk of a particular type of tooth extraction complication called dry socket. What is dry socket? After a tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms in the empty socket to protect the bone and underlying nerves and to promote healing. If anything interferes with or prematurely dislodges the clot forming, (such as the physical action of sucking on a cigarette), intense pain can result within a few days after the surgery.
The pain may extend from the socket to your ear, eye or neck, and you may experience a foul taste in your mouth, bad breath and a slight fever. Looking in a mirror, you may see just an empty hole: this is called dry socket. If you have any of these symptoms, immediately call your dentist, who will need to clean out the socket and place a medicated dressing. They may also give you pain medication, antibiotics and specific home care instructions.
When Can I Smoke After Tooth Extraction?
If you must smoke after tooth extraction it is recommended that you wait for at least 48 hours (2 days) after your tooth removal surgery before you begin smoking. When you resume smoking, inhale very gently and remember to keep gauze in place over your socket while smoking to avoid complications.
While you naturally want to avoid increased complications after you’ve had your wisdom teeth pulled, if you’re a smoker, abstaining from smoking may be challenging. You may intend to stop smoking post-surgery, but the addictive nature of smoking can make it especially difficult.
If you know you’re going to be getting your wisdom teeth removed, it’s a great motivation to quit the habit! There are numerous resources available to help you manage cravings and successfully quit tobacco. This is necessary to ensure a healthy recovery from your wisdom tooth extraction, but is also the healthiest choice for your whole body.
To help your extraction heal more quickly, limit heavy activity and avoid alcohol, hot beverages, hard foods, and, of course, smoking. Don’t clean the area for the first 24 hours and make sure you’re using a soft-bristled toothbrush. If you suspect something’s not quite right post-surgery, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist. With the right care — and no smoking! — your recovery should go smoothly and you’ll be back to smiling in no time. SEE: Can You Smoke With Invisalign?