Wisdom tooth removal is one of the most common dental surgeries performed on adults. If you are slated for one, you’ve probably heard plenty about what helps or hampers healing. And we’ve got some more info to add! If you smoke and like your cigarettes, you may want to stop for a while after a wisdom tooth removal. Here’s why smoking after the procedure is a bad idea.
1. You Risk Infection By Smoking After Wisdom Tooth Extraction
If you decide to ignore your doctor’s orders and carry on smoking before and after your wisdom tooth is pulled, you could wind up with a nasty infection.1 If you develop an infection at the site, you will develop a high fever or experience swelling and pain that doesn’t let up. You may also notice a white or yellow discharge from the wisdom tooth extraction site.2
2. Smoking Slows Healing Of Extraction Wounds
When your wisdom tooth is removed, it leaves a socket that’s empty where the tooth once sat. This extraction wound needs to heal. But if you smoke, that could hamper the speed at which the wound repairs.3
3. Heavy Smoking Could Cause The Socket To Be Painful
After your wisdom tooth is extracted, you may experience more pain in the empty socket than those who are non-smokers. Heavy smokers, who smoke 20 cigarettes or more, tend to suffer more. This is again connected to the healing process. For a wound to heal properly, the empty socket must fill with blood post extraction. This is significantly impaired among smokers, causing more pain and discomfort than is usual.4
4. You May Damage That Precious Blood Clot By Smoking
By now you know the socket that’s left empty after extraction needs to heal. And a vital step in the process is the formation of a blood clot in that space. This helps the bleeding to stop and kickstarts the process of healing. You will be asked to bite down on a gauze pad after the surgery for about 30 minutes post extraction. You will need to repeat this until the bleeding stops and a clot forms. Once the clot is formed, dentists will advise you to take every precaution to prevent dislodging the clot. That means no vigorous rinsing, no using straws, or heavy-duty teeth brushing. Besides these, smoking is a hazard that can dislodge the clot. So you will want to avoid any kind of smoking, whether it is tobacco or marijuana, until the healing is well on its way.5
5. You Increase Risk Of Dry Socket, Osteomyelitis, And Pericoronal Infection
If quitting does not sound like an option just yet, consider this. You may adversely affect your recovery from the surgery and increase the chances of developing a “dry socket.” This occurs when you burst that blood clot that you just read about. And should that happen, you could end up with a dry socket.6
Smoking could even raise your risk of a bone infection that persists well after your wisdom tooth is removed. One such especially unpleasant result that’s been linked to wisdom tooth extraction in smokers is chronic osteomyelitis.7 Infection around the crown of the tooth or a pericoronal infection is also more likely if you’re a smoker. Research has found significant correlation between smoking and such complications after third molar surgery.8
Smoking Weed After A Wisdom Tooth Extraction – Just As Unwise!
Mechanical damage to the blood clot is just as likely with a rolled-up cigarette filled with weed or marijuana. Smoking weed soon after wisdom tooth removal may result in the same infection risk and chances of a dry socket, all of which may slow the healing process and recovery.
Restart Smoking No Earlier Than 72 Hours After Your Wisdom Tooth Removal
So when is it safe to restart smoking after your tooth extraction? In general, most dentists will suggest a minimum of 24 hours of extreme caution to minimize bleeding and ask you to go at least 48 hours without smoking. However, if you want to enable optimal healing and give your body a chance to create the blood clot, push yourself to avoid a cigarette for at least 72 hours. One wrong move (or smoke!) and that clot could be dislodged, leaving a gaping wound and opening you up to the risk of a dry socket and infections.9
Avoid Smoking Before A Wisdom Tooth Surgery As Well
Now that you know your body needs a breather from smoking for complete healing after an extraction, you might be wondering about the before part – whether you can smoke right up to the day of the surgery.
If you run through half a pack of cigarettes every day on average, you are four or five times more likely (a 12 percent chance overall) to have alveolar osteitis or dry socket than those who don’t smoke at all. Those smoking a pack every day have a higher than 20 percent risk and those who smoke even on the day of the surgery have as high as a 40 percent chance of developing dry socket.10 If those odds don’t sound good, it is with good reason.
Smoking cannabis before the surgery may also be problematic. If you have cannabinoids in your system, they can interact and affect the activity of numerous anaesthetic agents. This might adversely impact the surgery to remove your wisdom tooth as well. And do remember that cannabinoids are eliminated from your body very slowly and can sometimes remain in your body for weeks. So no smoking weed for a couple of weeks leading up to your surgery, just to be safe.11
|↑1||Wisdom tooth removal. National Health Service.|
|↑2, ↑6||Wisdom tooth removal – Complications. National Health Service.|
|↑3, ↑4||Meechan, J. G., I. D. M. Macgregor, S. N. Rogers, R. S. Hobson, J. P. C. Bate, and M. Dennison. “The effect of smoking on immediate post-extraction socket filling with blood and on the incidence of painful socket.” British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 26, no. 5 (1988): 402-409.|
|↑5, ↑9||Teeth extraction. American Dental Association.|
|↑7||Katie Gilbertson, R. D. H., and D. M. D. Daisy Chemaly. “Chronic Osteomyelitis as an Unusual Complication of Third Molar Surgery A series of 5 Cases.”|
|↑8||Arrigoni, J., and J. T. Lambrecht. “Complications during and after third molar extraction.” Schweizer Monatsschrift fur Zahnmedizin= Revue mensuelle suisse d’odonto-stomatologie= Rivista mensile svizzera di odontologia e stomatologia 114, no. 12 (2004): 1271-1286.|
|↑10||Kolokythas, Antonia, Eliza Olech, and Michael Miloro. “Alveolar osteitis: a comprehensive review of concepts and controversies.” International journal of dentistry 2010 (2010).|
|↑11||Symons, I. E. “Cannabis smoking and anaesthesia.” Anaesthesia 57, no. 11 (2002): 1142-1143.|