Smoking after a tooth extraction is not a good idea. Complications can arise and so you are going to want to follow your dentist’s advice and give your mouth some time to heal. In today’s article we are going to discuss how long you should wait, what can happen if you don’t, and what to do should complications follow do to smoking after your tooth extraction. Let’s talk about why you shouldn’t smoke after that extraction.
What happens if you smoke after getting a tooth pulled?
While you might imagine that smoking simply inundates the extraction area with chemicals it’s a little more than that. Smoking increases blood pressure which, in turn, means that you may get a little dizzy and you will bleed more when you should be healing. This can also cause ‘dry socket’, a painful condition where bone and nerve become exposed due to improper healing. If this occurs you will want to visit your dentist immediately for treatment. You will feel better quickly but dry socket can take up to a week to fully heal, so think twice if you feel that smoking immediately after an extraction is a good idea.
What are the signs of dry socket?
While a modicum of pain and swelling is to be expected, when dry socket is at play you will know that something is wrong. Signs of dry socket may include the following:
- Prolonged bad breath following extraction can be an initial warning sign
- Visible socket, sometimes with bone showing, without a visible clot
- Pain which tends to ‘radiate’ from the extraction spot that can be felt in your face and the rest of your head
- Intense pain occurring 2 – 3 days following your extraction
While that MIGHT be okay, depending on how quickly you heal, it is recommended that you wait at least 72 hours before lighting up. You want to make sure that a clot has formed and that proper healing is occurring before introducing smoking into the equation to minimize the risk of dry socket. So, how likely is it to occur? Statistically, 12% of people who smoke after an extraction will end up with dry socket. While this is a low chance, if you happen to be one of those 12% you will definitely reconsider smoking after your next dental visit. Dry socket is something you don’t soon forget.
Can I smoke with gauze in my mouth?
We know that you might be thinking ‘why can’t I just put some gauze over the area and smoke?’. The reason that you shouldn’t do this is that clot that we have been talking about. This can stick to the gauze and end up dislodging, which in turn will lead to bleeding from the increased blood pressure. We know that you want to smoke but the gauze is not a good idea.
What if I can’t wait that long?
Smoking is the sort of habit that is very, very hard to put off for even a few hours, much less 72. If you absolutely need your tobacco, there are some steps which you can take in order to lower your chances of contracting dry socket. The steps include:
- Nicotine patches – Nicotine patches may be obtained at your local pharmacy and should help to keep you from smoking for the 72 hour period following your extraction. Note: If using nicotine patches, do NOT smoke a cigarette as well, as this can put you at risk for nicotine poisoning. If you use the patch then smoking is DEFINITELY off-limits.
- Keep yourself distracted – Read a good book, play video games if you like, whatever it takes to keep you from thinking about smoking. If you have a subscription to a service such as Netflix then you could marathon-watch a series in order to pass the time. As long as your chosen method of distraction does not involve a lot of physical exertion (which is also bad for a clot) then anything that you can do to kill the time and put off that puffing is a good idea and will give your clot time to form properly.
“Fill the time up with rest.”
- Catch up on sleep – A sneaky way to keep your mind off of smoking is to fill the time up with rest. Rest is good when you are healing anyways, so if you can take the time off why not take advantage and catch up on some of that sleep that you have been missing?
- Avoid caffeine – If you are a smoker, nothing goes better with a cup of coffee than a cigarette. Avoid caffeine or other triggers that make you want to smoke. Caffeine is good to avoid anyways, as it also raises blood pressure, so it might be a good idea to do without it for 3 days following your extraction.
- Inhale very gently – If you absolutely have to smoke then you should do your best to put it off for as long as possible and then when you do smoke, smoke very gently. For the same reason that straws are not recommended after an extraction, puffing on a cigarette causes suction pressure in your mouth that can dislodge a newly forming clot.
- Ask for stitches – Stitches on the surgery site can help to reduce your chances of getting dry socket. Ask your dentist if this is an option if you don’t think you will be able to make it without smoking for 72 hours.
While 3 days doesn’t seem like a long time to most, for a smoker this can seem like an eternity. We only ask that you do your best to give that clot time to form properly. Use our tips to avoid dry socket and with a little luck those 3 days will be gone before you know it and you’ll be back to smoking whenever you like!