tooth extraction and smoking

Smoking After A Tooth Extraction

There is a number of reasons for pulling the tooth. Often we (unfortunately) can’ t influence it. However, a certain group of people should pay special attention to the well-being of their teeth: namely, the smokers.

Why do smokers have to get their teeth pulled more often?

It is a proven fact that the most common reason for tooth extraction in smokers is periodontal disease, especially gingivitis.

Smoking provokes gingivitis. Inflammation in turn accelerates the production of cytokines, which can cause periodontal disease.

Phew… these were now a bunch of complicated technical terms that are usually not immediately understood. It is important to remember that smoking is very damaging to teeth and a risk for the entire mouth. 

Furthermore, wisdom teeth are a risk zone, which can be very unpleasant especially for smokers.

Wisdom teeth are the perfect place for the growth of bacteria as they are more difficult to clean. When you smoke, you add nicotine to these bacteria, leading to more serious consequences.

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What happens if I smoke after the tooth extraction?

Smoking after the extraction procedure can trigger various complications. The time after tooth extraction is very delicate. Instead of an empty area, a blood clot forms. fibroblasts (special cells that play an important role in wound healing) form and the process of bone formation begins. Smoking can damage this natural reaction. 

When you smoke, your blood pressure rises, causing bleeding and dizziness. If the healing effect is impaired by smoking, there may be throbbing and severe local pain. This happens because tobacco causes immediate damage of the tissue cells. Smokers’ blood contains carbon monoxide, which reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients in the tissues of the wound area and hinders the healing process. The lack of oxygen means a painful healing process and an increased risk of infection.

tooth extraction

One of the worst things that can happen to you after extraction is the so-called “dry socket” (Alveolitis sicca): the sucking action performed during smoking can loosen the blood clot. Let us summarize the possible complications of tooth extraction as follows:

  • high blood pressure
  • dizziness
  • slowed healing process
  • risk of infection
  • dry socket

Dry Socket: This can be even more painful than pulling out the teeth

The removal of the tooth is not a pleasant experience, but it can get even worse. The real pain can occur if a dry alveolus develops afterwards.

The dry alveolus is associated with severe pain around the surgical site and a longer healing period. The alveolus is a hole in the bone. After the extraction procedure, the blood clot exits the cavity and protects the nerves from getting infected. Sometimes, however, the clot can get broken down so the nerve and bone become visible. The infection develops immediately and can lead to a dry alveolus and severe pain for a few days (usually 5-6 days).

Dry alveolus patients say it is a terrible pain that no one should ever experience.

You can try to avoid these painful aftereffects by:

  • giving up smoking after the procedure
  • and paying attention to the proper oral hygiene

A waiting period of at least 3-4 days can considerably reduce the possible complications. Try to stop smoking until you can see in the mirror that your gums look healed. Remember that anything you can do to speed up the healing process is in your interest. 

Tooth extraction can also be seen as an opportunity to finally quit smoking.

Post-treatment after tooth extraction

It’s important to keep your teeth clean. Make sure that there is no food or plaque in the alveolus. After removing the tooth you should avoid all sucking, including smoking. If you manage to wait a few days before smoking, but the blood clot is still loosening, pay attention to a dry alveolus and try to recognize the symptoms in time.

The alarm signs include: Pain at the extraction site, bad breath and taste in the mouth, ear pain and swollen lymph nodes. If you have any of these symptoms, call your dentist.

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This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)

Oliver Sankt - Autor