If you’re a smoker, you might be wondering how long after you get your wisdom teeth removed do you need to wait to smoke. If you don’t wait long enough, you can get a painful condition called dry socket. Here are some tips to help you out after you get your wisdom teeth removed.

smoking after removing wisdom teeth

Why Should You Avoid Smoking After Removing Your Wisdom Tooth

As strong as your desire will be to have that cigarette as soon as possible after your surgery, there a couple of good reasons to abstain. The first reason is that the chemicals found in cigarettes interfere with your body’s natural ability to heal. Your extraction site will take longer to heal and therefore you’ll have to wait even longer to smoke.

The second reason is that you’ll be three times more likely to get a painful condition called dry socket if you smoke. Dry socket will add a few weeks to your total healing time and can also cause an infection. Infections are much harder to fight off when you smoke and will make it much harder for your body to recover after your surgery.

What Is Dry Socket?

After you get your wisdom teeth removed, a blood clot quickly forms over the wound. It acts as a protective barrier to the hole in your bone. If the blood clot gets dislodged then that hole in your bone is exposed to the air, food, and liquids.

When this happens, it’s called a dry socket. You’ll know you have a dry socket when the pain intensifies after appearing to get better within a few days of your surgery.

How Do You Prevent Dry Socket?

Dry sockets are incredibly painful as the nerves in your bone are directly exposed without the blood clot to protect them. It’s also more painful because it involves the nerves deep within your jaw. There are a few steps you can take to prevent dry socket:

  • Avoid smoking: The act of pulling on the cigarette causes the blood clot to dislodge
  • Avoid using straws or spitting
  • Gargle with salt water to keep wound clean
  • When you need to spit the salt water out, simply open your mouth over the sink and let it fall out
  • Eat soft foods to avoid abrasive food that can dislodge the blood clot
  • Avoid brushing your teeth for 24 hours after surgery and avoid the blood clot when you do resume brushing

Symptoms of Dry Socket

It’s normal to have pain after your surgery. You can use over the counter painkillers or use a prescription for narcotic pain killers. If you notice any of the following symptoms a few days after your surgery, consult your dentist:

  • Pain level seems to decrease but then gets much worse
  • You no longer see a deep red blood clot over the incision site but rather a hole
  • You can see white bone in the hole
  • Pain that radiates through your extraction site to your ear
  • Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth

There’s no need to panic if you have these symptoms. Dry socket is easily treatable by your dentist.

How to Treat Dry Socket

If you do develop a dry socket, your dentist will have you come in. Your dentist will rinse the area and apply medication. This medication comes in the form of a paste and will promote healing. If your pain level is high, your dentist will also prescribe pain killers if you don’t already have them.

Sometimes, your dentist will also prescribe antibiotics. Dry sockets increase your risk of infection after surgery. Your dentist will want to stay ahead of the infection with a course of antibiotics. Make sure you take the full course of antibiotics even if you are starting to feel better.

Steps to Take If You Smoke After Surgery

smoking after surgery

If you do choose to smoke after surgery, here are a few steps to take to lower your risk of dry socket. These are just a few suggestions to see how long you have to wait after wisdom teeth removal to smoke.

Prepare Ahead for Your Surgery Date

You can also prepare your body by gradually cutting back on the number of cigarettes you need. You can do this over the weeks leading up to your surgery. You can also speak with your dentist about steps to take to help you quit smoking.

How Long After Wisdom Teeth Removal Can I Smoke?

If you can, wait 48 hours after your surgery before you resume smoking. This will reduce your chances of getting a dry socket. Also, make sure you inhale gently when you do resume smoking.

Place Gauze Over Blood Clot While Smoking

Your dentist will send you home with gauze after your surgery. You can remove this gauze packing within a few hours of your surgery when the bleeding stops. However, you’ll want to place it over the clot if you smoke. This can help keep the blood clot in place.

Ask for Stitches

The oral surgeon won’t always place stitches when doing a tooth extraction. You can ask them to be placed over your incision site to promote healing in the area.

Use A Nicotine Patch

Using a nicotine patch will help curb your nicotine cravings without having to smoke. This will help prevent dry socket.

How Smoking Interferes with Healing

smoking is harmful

There are a few different processes that happen when you smoke. Smoking has been proven to greatly increase the time it takes for your body to heal from surgery.  Here are a few of the processes that happen when you smoke after your surgery.

The Effects of Nicotine

First, the nicotine in cigarettes raises your blood pressure. This will increase your healing time since your body decreases blood to the wound. It will take longer for the tissue to heal without proper blood flow.  

Secondly, nicotine lowers the adhesiveness of your platelets. Simply put, it’ll be harder for your body to form a blood clot over your incision. This will slow down the healing process.

The Effects of Carbon Monoxide

Smoking increases the levels of carbon monoxide found in your bloodstream. This will decrease the oxygen transport in your blood. Lower levels of oxygen means your body can’t transport enough oxygen to the wound. Oxygen is vital to ward off infection and to tissue regeneration.

The Effect of Hydrogen Cyanide

Hydrogen cyanide is a chemical found in cigarettes. It interferes with your body’s healing processes because it affects the enzymes responsible for oxygen transport at the cellular level. When your body can’t transport oxygen to the wound site then it’ll take much longer for your body to regenerate tissue. Your chance of infection is also much greater.

Increases Pain Levels and Inflammation

The chemicals found in cigarettes also interfere with your body’s pain signals. This means that when you smoke, it’ll heighten the level of pain you feel after surgery. These chemicals also increase inflammation all over your body, including your wound site.

How Much Longer Will It Take to Heal?

There have been quite a few different studies done on the effects of smoking on wound healing. One particular study found that smokers took about 25% more time to heal from a wound than non-smokers. If you want to heal faster, reduce your risk of infection, and reduce your risk for dry socket then you should avoid smoking before and after surgery.

How Long Before Surgery Should You Stop Smoking?

dont smoke

As you can see above, it’s vitally important to refrain from smoking until your wound is mostly healed. However, the effects of the chemicals found in cigarettes don’t immediately stop once you stop smoking. It’ll take a full 3 days of not smoking for your body to rid itself of the chemicals found in cigarettes.

Even if you don’t smoke that much or just occasionally, smoking just 1 cigarette per day before your surgery will affect your wound healing. Remember, these same chemicals are found in other tobacco products including vape products.

How Long Does it Take to Heal from Wisdom Teeth Removal?

If you have decided to refrain from smoking before and after surgery to help your body heal, you might be wondering how long that will take. How long after your wisdom teeth removal will you have to wait to smoke? Even though you can return to your normal activities within a few days up to a week, your body takes longer to heal.

Short Term Healing

It only takes 1 month for your soft tissue to heal. Bone formation begins in the first week following your surgery and will be well on its way at this point as well.

When You’ll Be Mostly Healed

At around the 2-month mark, your soft tissue will be completely filled in and ⅔ of your bone will be restored. Although, you might still have a small indent where your wisdom teeth were extracted.

When You’ll Be Completely Healed

Typically speaking, as long as you don’t smoke, you can expect your body to be healed within 4 months. According to x-ray results, at 4 months your bone will have filled in with the same density as surrounding bone tissue. This is for the average wisdom tooth removal without any complications.

Karl Townsend Administrator
Having suffered for decades, I know a thing or two about bad oral hygiene. That\'s why I started this site. To help educate and inform visitors on good oral products and how to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
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