The dangers of smoking after wisdom teeth removal

Two smoking teeth illustration
Smoking causes a lot of damage to your teeth and gums, but after oral surgery the dangers are particularly bad.

It is a well-known fact that smoking has a long list of hazardous effects on dental health, but did you know that the habit can cause major issues after oral surgery as well? The dangers of smoking tend to have long-term dental consequences that can go unnoticed for many years, but if you need to have your wisdom teeth removed, you will immediately put yourself at risk for complications if you don’t stop smoking during recovery. Understanding why this warning needs to be taken seriously in the case of oral surgery can help to prevent major issues.

When a wisdom tooth is removed, the extraction site begins a healing process that depends upon a blood clot forming. If nerves and bone are exposed, not only will you experience great pain, but very serious infections can be contracted. The forming of the clot is absolutely necessary for everything to heal properly. In the first 2-3 days particularly, the extraction site is vulnerable and can very easily be damaged. Even if the blood clot is able to form without hindrance, it can still dislodge if precautions aren’t taken. A number of factors can cause this to happen, one of which is using cigarettes. First, pulling on the cigarette creates suction, which can cause the blood clot to dislodge (which is why using straws is also prohibited). Vaping is also prohibited, because it also creates suction and therefore carries the same risk.

But beyond creating suction, using nicotine in any form can cause pain and inflammation by restricting blood supply to critical nerves at the extraction site. Because inflammation seriously hinders proper recovery, minimizing it is a top priority post-surgery.

Once a tooth is extracted, the empty socket leaves the bone and nerve endings exposed. If a blood clot cannot properly form and protect the empty socket from outside elements, a condition called dry socket results. This condition is most common with wisdom teeth removal. If dry socket does occur, the bone itself can actually become infected (osteomyelitis), which is a very serious condition.

The vast long-term consequences of smoking on dental health should be enough motivation to kick the habit, but oral surgery provides a convenient way to kick-start your journey. Abstaining from cigarettes and other tobacco products for at least 2-3 days after an extraction is necessary for the healing process, and that amount of time can set into motion your path to quitting. If you smoke and are concerned about your dental health, please contact our office today. Our top priority is keeping your mouth healthy and providing vital support as you quit the habit for good.