Getting a tooth extraction can be a very stressful and painful procedure, and if you are a heavy smoker you might be looking forward to smoking a cigarette (or two!) after that lengthy surgery, but don’t!
Can I smoke after a tooth extraction?
Smoking immediately after a tooth extraction will seriously affect the healing of the extraction site and can potentially lead to a dry socket (1).
If you’re a heavy smoker, it’s highly recommended to wait at least 72 hours after your extraction before you can smoke again.
Why is it harmful to smoke after a tooth extraction?
Cigarettes contain many chemicals and toxins that will adversely impact bone growth and healing.
After a tooth has been extracted, what remains is the place where the roots of the tooth were embedded into bone, this is known as a socket.
After the extraction, this socket quickly fills up with blood and after some time, this blood hardens and forms into a blood clot. The most important thing to guarantee adequate healing after a tooth extraction is formation of this blood clot in the remaining socket.
Smoking reduces the amount and flow of blood into these sockets, and it actually directly impacts the blood clots causing them to be dislodged and removed from the socket, leaving behind an almost empty cavity, leaving your bone exposed.
This means that your body keeps bleeding into the socket in attempt to create a blood clot, but due to smoking, this blood clot cannot remain in place and is either spat out or swallowed with the smoke.
Dry-socket is the most common complication of this, and it literally means a socket that doesn’t have a blood clot in it. A “dry socket”, that is extremely painful due to bone being exposed.
Dry sockets can also be caused by the simple act of sucking, such as drinking with a straw!
Smoke inhalation might also cause gum inflammation and swelling in the gingiva, prolonging healing time and increasing bleeding, and more importantly – cause even more pain!
After your tooth extraction, if the blood in the socket can form a blood clot then over time it hardens even more and turns into collagen and bone.
Smoking directly affects this bone growth, and if you smoke heavily after an extraction it may impact the time it takes for this bone to form, including its quality (2).
When is it safe to smoke after a tooth extraction?
If a blood clot has developed in a tooth socket, and this blood clot remains without being interfered by external sources, it is a good start for the process of healing.
The blood clot usually forms in the first day directly after the tooth extraction but can take up to several days. Therefore, as mentioned above, it’s strongly advised not to smoke for at least 72 hours after getting your tooth extracted.
During this initial period, the healing will allow blood clots to form, stop bleeding from the socket, and kick-start the healing process.
Smoking After A Tooth Extraction – Final Words
In general, it’s advised to cut down on smoking all together (maybe it’s a good time to finally begin your plan to quite smoking), but if you must smoke, do so after 3 days and when blood has completely stopped oozing out of the socket.