Smoking can be a trying habit. You get used to smoking first thing in the morning, after a meal, on breaks… it’s amazing how much time is spent on it, really. In this article our goal isn’t to preach about whether or not it’s a good idea in general but we ARE going to let you know why smoking after wisdom teeth removal is risky business. Without further ado, let’s explore the subject so that you know what might happen if you ignore the dentist’s advice and smoke immediately after your wisdom teeth removal.
When CAN I start smoking again after a wisdom teeth extraction?
The bad news is that you will want to wait at least 72 hours after your tooth extraction to begin smoking again. We know that seems like a long time but there is a very good reason that you will want to do this.
So, what is dry socket? Dry socket is a painful condition where the nerves or even the bone may become visible within the extraction area, resulting in intense pain that can be felt in the face and other places on your head! While your dentist can easily remediate this it can take up to a week to heal and if you aren’t able to get an appointment right away then it can be quite agonizing.
If you know that you are going to end up smoking anyways then there are a few things that you might want to consider trying to help to minimize your chances of getting dry socket. For one thing, you can request stitches in the extraction area, your dentist will be able to let you know if this will be possible. Secondly, if you MUST smoke then be sure to puff gently. Strong suction can dislodge a clot and the chemicals from your cigarette can increase your blood pressure, so that you start bleeding. Lastly, you might consider investing in some nicotine patches ahead of time to ‘curb your craving’ for the 72 hours you are recommended to abstain from smoking. If you go this route just make sure that you don’t smoke a cigarette while you are wearing a patch. Doing so puts you at risk of nicotine poisoning which can make you very ill or even kill you, so don’t ‘cheat’ by smoking if you use a patch and if you think that you might then skip patches altogether.
Are there other factors that put me at risk for dry socket?
Yes, there are a few things that you should avoid doing following a wisdom tooth extraction to help to avoid the dreaded dry socket. Here are some things that you will want to avoid:
- No spitting – Spitting requires creating a certain amount of pressure in your mouth, which in turn threatens to pull a forming clot right out of the extraction area. If you need to spit from mouthwash then let it ‘dribble’ out of your mouth instead, at least for the first 2 days.
- Avoid straws – Like spitting (and smoking), straws create pressure in the mouth in order to bring the liquid to you expediently. While it’s a great way to enjoy a soda, it’s a bad way to look out for that clot so avoid straws for the first 2 – 3 days to be on the safe side.
- Stick to soft foods – It’s a good idea for the first 2 to 3 days to stick to soft foods as much as possible. Yoghurt, applesauce, and soups are good examples. Crunchy foods run the risk of dislodging your clot. Stay away from sticky foods, as well, as they can also pull out a clot and put you at risk for dry socket.
” Don’t irritate the area of your blood clot.”
- Keep it clean – Gentle brushing and rinsing with mouthwash 3 times a day is a good idea. Just be sure that you don’t irritate the area of your blood clot while you are keeping it clean.
- No caffeine for you – Caffeine increases your blood pressure and too much can put you at risk for bleeding, so you might want to tone-down or even abstain from caffeine for the 3 days following your procedure.
- Avoid aspirin – For pain relief following your wisdom tooth removal, aspirin is a bad idea. As a blood thinner it will make it harder for your clot to form properly as it will increase the amount of bleeding at the extraction site. Tylenol or Ibuprofen are a better choice or you can ask your dentist for an approved prescription-level pain relief option that won’t slow the healing of your clot.
I heard I can just put gauze in my mouth to smoke, is this true?
We’re sorry to have to tell you this but gauze is not a good idea. Constantly putting gauze in your mouth to smoke might seem like a good idea but the problem is that the gauze can stick to the clot area. This means that when you remove the gauze you might inadvertently remove the clot as well and end up with dry socket for your troubles.
Can I chew nicotine gum after a wisdom tooth extraction?
Unfortunately this is not recommended. Gum is sticky and if you aren’t careful, you might move it to the back of your mouth and end up affecting the clot. The nicotine patch is going to be your best bet if you must have nicotine following your dental surgery.
Today we have discussed why smoking after a wisdom tooth removal is not a good idea. While we understand that it seems impossible to go without smoking for 72 hours you should make your best effort to put off that first cigarette. Dry socket is no joke and will add pain and time to your recovery, so keep yourself distracted and get those patches. Don’t worry, you’ll heal up in no time!