Wisdom Teeth Extraction and Smoking After
There are a few different factors that contribute to the recovery time for a wisdom tooth extraction, though the general time period for recovering ranges from a few days to as long as two weeks. During the first few days of recovery, it’s imperative to carefully adhere to your oral surgeon’s recommendations for aftercare, which will help immensely with your rapid, painless recovery. In these immediate hours following surgery, a blood clot forms inside the socket where your wisdom tooth once was, and this blood clot protects the surgical site and helps new, healthy tissues grow and fill in this socket. Keeping this blood clot securely in place should be your primary goal as you heal, and one of the best ways to ensure the security of the blood clot is to refrain from smoking while your extraction site heals. The forceful sucking motion of smoking or vaping, combined with the chemicals and toxins present in tobacco products, can wreak havoc on surgical sites, dislodging the blood clots and preventing healing while introducing harmful irritants to the oral tissues as well.
For the first 24 hours after surgery, patients usually have gauze packing in their surgical sites; this packing should be left alone, and your dentist will provide instruction on what to ingest and how to relieve discomfort during this initial healing period. As you heal, for at least a few days after surgery, your dentist will recommend that you eat a soft, non-irritating yet nutritious diet and refrain from smoking, heavy lifting or exercise, rinsing or swishing fluids in the mouth, spitting, and drinking from straw. Very gently brushing and flossing and regular warm salt water rinses can help reduce discomfort while keeping the oral cavity clean after wisdom teeth extraction, and after the initial swelling and pain have subsided, patients can gradually resume gentle exercise and normal oral hygiene and begin introducing more substantial foods into the diet.
Ultimately, the goal of effectively healing from wisdom teeth extraction is to allow the healing blood clot that forms immediately after surgery to stay nestled in the jaw socket and protect the surgery site while it heals. When this blood clot is dislodged, the nerves inside the alveolar bone in the jaw, beneath the gums, are exposed, and the pain can be excruciating. Without prompt dental care, a dislodged blood clot, commonly known as a dry socket, can lead to infection and interfere with healing, causing continuous pain and necessitating additional dental procedures. While any significant impact or aggressive force, like those listed above, can cause a blood clot to dislodge and a dry socket to form, the most common culprit is smoking following wisdom teeth extraction. And, because each patient heals at a different rate, this may mean that your effective healing will entail your commitment to refrain from smoking for at least a couple of weeks following your wisdom teeth extraction. While it may be clinically okay to resume smoking once the extraction sites have fully healed, your dentist will probably recommend that you think about using your healing time as an opportunity to quit smoking or using tobacco entirely. Even when dry socket doesn’t pose a risk, the detrimental effects of smoking on the oral health and the overall health are clear, and wisdom teeth extraction – and the threat of painful dry socket – can be a great incentive to stop smoking once and for all.