Tooth Extraction and Smoking: Here’s What You Need To Know

Getting a tooth pulled is not something that is usually on the top of anybody’s list. Whether you need to have your wisdom teeth (third molar teeth) pulled or perhaps another molar needs to come out, one thing is certain, tooth extractions are not very fun. The good news is, typically tooth extractions heal fairly quickly. However, if you are a smoker, you may have some additional concerns when it comes to tooth extraction.

Why Are Tooth Extractions Different For Smokers?

Smoking can cause a variety of different complications after you have your teeth pulled. When you have a tooth pulled, your body begins a natural healing process. First, a blood clot will form in place of the empty socket. Next, fibroblasts begin generating. This cell development is critical to healing the wound. From there, the process of bone creation begins. Isn’t the human body amazing?

Unfortunately, cigarette smoking, or any smoking for that matter, can disrupt this healing process and create a variety of risk factors. When you smoke a cigarette, for example, your blood pressure will rise, which can lead to bleeding and dizziness. If bleeding and dizziness don’t sound fun, you should also know that tobacco itself causes problems with wound healing following a tooth extraction.

Tobacco products can cause immediate damage to tissue cells. Because smoke is inhaled through the mouth, tobacco and nicotine are able to quickly and directly reach the surgery site. Patients have reported throbbing and intense pain after smoking a cigarette. Smokers generally report a more painful healing process in general. This is likely because when you smoke regularly, your blood contains carbon monoxide, which decreases oxygen levels and inhibits important nutrients from reaching those healing tissues.

Smoking After Tooth Extraction Can Cause Dry Sockets

Throbbing pain, dizziness, and slower healing all seem like good reasons not to smoke following a tooth extraction, but if those symptoms haven’t convinced you, dry sockets surely will. An alveolar osteitis, or dry socket can cause intense pain in the area where a tooth was removed. When a tooth is pulled, it leaves a socket in the bone. This is essentially a small hole. As we mentioned above, the natural healing process of this surgical area is critical.

When you smoke, the sucking sensation that comes from inhaling cigarettes can pull the blood clot from the socket. This leaves the nerves exposed and vulnerable to infection. If an infection develops, that leads to a dry socket and severe pain that can last as long as a week.

How Long Until to Avoid Smoking After A Tooth Extraction?

If you do not plan on quitting smoking before having a tooth pulled, it is recommended that you try to avoid smoking for a minimum of 1 day following your extraction procedure. The ideal timeframe would be to quit smoking for at least 72 hours after emergency tooth extraction. This will give your body a chance to let its natural healing process kick in and the odds of getting a dry socket decrease after that time. Good oral hygiene is also important following a tooth extraction to ensure that the area stays clean and that no food or debris finds its way into the socket.

Talk To Your Dentist Prior To Your Getting Any Teeth Pulled

Communication with your dentist or oral surgeon is critical. Be honest about your history with smoking and if you plan to smoke following any procedure involving tooth extraction, such as wisdom teeth removal. Coming up with the right treatment plan for you will ultimately give you a better result. If you do experience any pain or symptoms of dry sockets, be sure to contact your dentist right away.

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