Smoking is bad for health. There are a plethora of health problems brought about by smoking such as the high risk of developing lung cancer or mouth cancer. Moreover, apart from causing harm to yourself, you end up affecting those around you by making them passive smokers via second-hand smoking.
Thus, you and your family and friends are not safe with you around smoking away merrily. No matter how bad smoking for health is, there are still some people who are unable to give up smoking as they are addicted to nicotine, and the smoking habit is here to stay. Several people find it hard to avoid smoking after their wisdom teeth have been removed.
What Is Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Wisdom teeth removal or extraction is a procedure where any of your wisdom teeth that are problematic are being surgically removed to avoid future teeth issues.
The extraction can be as simple as taking out a fully erupted wisdom tooth in a normal way just like extracting a regular tooth, or it can also involve a complicated procedure of surgery under anesthesia, involving gum incision and bone removal.
Smoking After Wisdom Teeth Removal
Is it OK to smoke after wisdom teeth removal? Smokers may not like this, but the answer is a big NO. It is understandable that one can’t stay without smoking after wisdom teeth removal as a body system is screaming for nicotine. Nicotine is like your personal drug, and you are addicted to it. You probably cannot last even a couple of hours before lighting up a gasper.
However, it is best to follow this important advice and avoid smoking after your wisdom tooth is extracted if you want to prevent the intense pain that will not go away even after several days. The painful condition I am referring to is called alveolar osteitis or commonly known as a dry socket.
Though a very small percentage – 2% to 5% of people who underwent wisdom tooth extraction – developed dry socket after the removal procedure, those who felt it said that it was the most painful thing they ever experienced in their mouth.
If you find a simple extraction or a toothache that needs a root canal procedure painful, wait till you experience a dry socket which is far more painful.
What Is a Dry Socket?
The hole in the bone where the wisdom tooth rested before its removal is referred to as the dry socket. After extraction, a blood clot will form in this socket to help protect the bone and nerves under it.
This blood clot can get dislodged or dissolved in a few days after extraction through cigarette smoking as well as other factors. Once the blood clot is removed, bacteria are now free to enter your system.
The bone and nerves are also exposed now to air, fluid, food, and everything else that enters your mouth. Once this happens, infection and severe pain may occur which can last for 5 to 6 days.
You will know if you have developed a dry socket when you experience the following signs and symptoms:
- The appearance of a whitish bone on a dry-looking opening instead of the presence of a dark blood clot.
- Pain which starts about two days after your wisdom tooth extraction procedure, and radiates from the socket to your ear. It is often described as dull and throbbing.
- Bad breath
- Unpleasant taste in your mouth
Can Dry Socket Be Treated?
Luckily, dry socket is a treatable condition. There are certain ways and remedies to help treat dry socket and alleviate the dull and throbbing pain that you experience.
- Pain medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen are prescribed to help ease the pain. If these drugs are not enough to reduce or eliminate the pain you experience, your dentist might prescribe you a stronger drug or apply anesthesia.
- Cleaning the socket and removing the remaining debris from the hole is done by your dentist. Afterward, he will fill the hole with a special paste to help promote the healing. You might also be advised to go back after a few days for a review until the healing process improves.
- Antibiotics are also prescribed to prevent or treat the infection.
- Use mouthwash with antibacterial properties or simply rinse your mouth with warm salt water every day.
How Can Smoking Cause Dry Socket?
Prevention is always better than cure. Hence, it is best that you limit and avoid the things which can lead to the formation of a dry socket such as smoking. It is best to avoid cigars, cigarettes and any form of tobacco use for a day or two after surgery. Sometimes, it is best to avoid smoking even after two days has passed to ensure that proper healing is promoted.
If you chew tobacco, however, two days may not be enough, and you should stop chewing it for at least a week or so to prevent a dry socket. Any use of tobacco products after surgery in the oral area will delay the healing process and also increase the risk of infection.
The University of Oregon Health Center, even advises avoiding smoking for at least the first five days from your wisdom tooth extraction date. This is primarily because the risk of sucking action and the chances of dislodging the clot are present until the healing process is complete. Nicotine found in cigarettes also causes the breakdown of the blood clot present in the dry socket.
The Relation between Smoking And Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Aside from the development of dry socket after wisdom tooth removal, smoking has other effects that are not good for you. One of the common causes of wisdom tooth extraction among smokers is periodontal disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center when a person smokes pipes, cigarettes, or cigars, it causes gum inflammation.
Once inflammation sets in, there is an increased production of cytokines, which are substances that cause periodontal disease. Since a wisdom tooth site may serve as an opening to bacteria, it is also an excellent place for the bacteria to thrive and multiply. Nicotine, which is present in cigarettes increases cytokine production.