Having a tooth extracted always prompts a multitude of questions concerning the aftercare of the extraction site. But, one of the most common concerns involves smoking or using a straw. Both these activities require a sucking motion, which is best avoided during the first 24 to 48 hours following tooth extraction.
Continuing tobacco use immediately after a tooth extraction puts you at risk for a condition called “dry socket” as well as other concerns. The healing process is a critical time and smoking can have negative effects on the extraction site.
Tooth Extraction Aftercare
After a tooth extraction, a blood clot normally forms to protect the empty socket while it begins to heal. It will dissolve as healing progresses. Smoking during the first 24 to 48 hours changes the pressure inside your mouth. This change in pressure may be enough to dislodge the blood clot and lead to a painful condition called dry socket.
Dry Socket at the Tooth Extraction Site
If the blood clot becomes dislodged, the empty socket no longer has a protective covering to prevent air, saliva, and food debris from entering the site. The risk for infection, inflammation, and severe pain increases. The best way to prevent dry socket from occurring is to avoid smoking during the first 24 to 48 hours following a tooth extraction.
Smoking After Tooth Extraction
Smoking not only increases the risk of the blood clot dislodging, it also slows the healing process. Nicotine shrinks blood vessels that supply blood to the extraction site which your body needs for the site to heal. Smoking can actually lengthen the duration of healing time.
Smoking also has the potential of introducing toxins to the extraction site. Tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, irritates the gums. It can even lead to gum disease, a condition where the gums become swollen, red, and bleed easily. In severe cases, gum disease can worsen to affect the bones and cause teeth to become loose. Loose teeth can quickly become lost teeth.
You can lessen your risks of potential complications by avoiding smoking, at least during the most critical healing time after a tooth extraction procedure, practicing good oral hygiene, and maintaining regular dental checkups.