There are a number of reasons why you may need tooth extraction. Most frequently, patients require third molar teeth (we usually call them “wisdom teeth”) removal. Despite the cause of extraction, there are certain aftercare procedures one should follow to keep a healthy smile.
Why Do Smokers Need Tooth Extraction?
It is a proven fact that the most common reason for tooth extraction in smokers is periodontal diseases, especially gingivitis. Smoking cigarettes provoke gums inflammation. Inflammation, in turn, hastens the production of cytokines that could cause periodontal diseases. Wisdom teeth are the perfect place for bacterial growth, as they are more difficult to brush thoroughly and avoid entering the food. If you smoke, you are adding nicotine to these bacteria giving rise to more serious consequences.
What Happen If I Smoke After Tooth Extraction?
Smoking after the extraction procedure can be a reason for different complications. The time after tooth removal is very delicate. A blood clot is formed in place of an empty socket, fibroblasts (special cells playing an essential role in wound healing) are generating and the process of bone creation is started. Smoking can damage this natural reaction. When you smoke, your blood pressure increases provoking bleeding and dizziness. If healing is interfered by smoking, you can feel throbbing and extreme pain at the surgery site. This happens because tobacco causes the immediate damage to tissue cells. The blood of smokers contains carbon monoxide that decreases the amount of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues of wound area and hampers the healing process. The lack of oxygen means painful healing and higher risk of getting an infection. One of the worst things that could happen to you after extraction is a dry socket: the sucking action performed while smoking can dislodge the blood clot. Let’s sum up possible tooth extraction complications as follows:
- High blood pressure
- Slower healing process
- Risk of getting an infection
- Dry socket
Dry Socket: This Can Be Even More Painful Than Tooth Extraction
Having your tooth removed is not a pleasant experience; however, it can be even worse. The real pain may come if a dry socket is developing afterwards. A dry socket, also called alveolar osteitis, is associated with intense pain around the surgery site and longer healing period. The socket is a hole in the bone. After the extraction procedure, the blood clot emerges in the socket protecting the nerves from infections. However, sometimes the clot can be broken down and the nerve and bone become disclosed. The infection immediately develops and may lead to a dry socket and severe pain for some days (usually 5-6 days). The dry socket survivors say that it is a terrible pain no one should ever have to go through.
You can try to avoid these painful aftereffects by:
- not drinking from a straw
- not smoking after the procedure
- keeping proper oral hygiene
How Long Should I Wait to Smoke After Tooth Extraction?
It is good if you can withstand at least one day without smoking, however, the longer-the better. The preferable withdrawal time is 72 hours after your tooth removal. After 72 hours, there is a fewer chance to have a dry socket. The longer you wait, the faster is a healing process. A blood clot needs time to form in place of the removed tooth. That’s why 2-3 days after tooth extraction are essential and influence the whole healing process. 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 a dry socket; however, they offer additional protection.
Waiting for at least 3-4 days can greatly reduce the possible complications. Try to keep from smoking until you can see in the mirror that your gums look initially healed. Remember, that everything you can do to faster healing process is in your interest. You can also use a tooth extraction as a good excuse to quit smoking for good.
Teeth Extraction Aftercare
It is important to keep your teeth clean. Make sure that there is no food and debris in the socket. Avoid any sucking actions, including smoking, after your tooth has been removed. If you manage to wait few days to smoke, but the blood clot still dislodges, be aware of a dry socket and try to recognize the symptoms in time. Among the alarm signs are: pain at the extraction site, bad breath, and bad taste in the mouth, ear pain, and swollen lymph nodes. Don’t wait to call your dentist if you experience any of these symptoms.