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Smoking After Tooth Extraction: When Can You, and What Are the Risks?

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how long to wait before smoking after wisdom teeth removal
Smoking after a tooth extraction isn't recommended!

Smoking after tooth extraction is not a good idea. If you're a smoker, your dentist will give you strict instructions to hold off from smoking for as long as possible after you get a tooth removed—ideally 72 hours.

But avoiding cigarettes or cutting back on smoking can be tough, especially when you're craving a nicotine hit or missing your after-dinner ritual.

That's why in this article we'll go over the following:

  • How long should you wait to smoke after having a tooth extracted?
  • Why no smoking after a tooth extraction?
  • Is it possible to avoid dry socket if you do smoke?
  • What are the best smoking practices after tooth extraction?

Find out the answer to these questions and more as we take a deep dive into the topic of smoking after you get your teeth pulled.

Why no smoking after tooth extraction?

If you've just had a tooth extraction, it's important to avoid smoking because smoke contains heat and chemicals that can harm your teeth, gums, and oral tissue.

As a smoker, you're probably familiar with the effects of staining that smoking has on your teeth. But there's more to worry about than the damage caused by smoking when it comes to your oral health.

For example, did you know that smoking increases your risk of developing oral disease? And, while smoking has a negative impact on teeth, it can affect many other parts of your body as well.

Specifically after getting a tooth pulled, cigarette smoke can actually increase the pain at the tooth extraction site. Moreover, it slows the healing process, leaving you more susceptible to infection and complications.

Blood flow is an important factor when it comes to healing. Smoking causes the blood oxygen level to decrease, but oxygen in the blood is critical for the healing process.

Smoking hinders the formation of a blood clot

Why does smoking cause dry socket?

If you smoke after a tooth extraction, you have an increased chance of getting a dry socket. Smoking hinders the formation of a blood clot, which is essential to the healing process after an extraction.

When you smoke, the nicotine in the cigarettes causes your blood vessels to constrict. The result is that there's less blood available for the healing process after your tooth is pulled. Healing is delayed, and your risk of dry socket—when an extraction wound goes bad—increases.

Dry socket is a common complication that causes pain around an extraction site. This occurs when the blood clot that forms after a tooth is pulled dissolves or falls out too soon.

How does smoking cause dry socket?

The sucking and suctioning action that you use to draw the smoke from the cigarette can also suck your blood clot out of place. The same risk exists when vaping, or even drinking out of a straw.

How can I smoke and not get dry socket?

If you're wondering how to smoke after tooth extraction without getting dry socket, unfortunately, there's no sure answer. The following are some steps that can help:

  • Try nicotine patches
  • Wait at least 48 hours after the extraction to begin smoking again
  • When you do begin smoking, make sure to inhale with minimal force
  • Don't chew nicotine gum or chewing tobacco as a replacement
  • Refrain from smoking as long as possible
  • Ask your dentist to stitch the extraction site
  • Place gauze over the extraction site

The video below is made for smokers by a smoker. It's an honest description of how to take care of your teeth and when you can smoke after getting your tooth pulled. He talks about the difficulty of refraining from smoking after getting a tooth pulled.

He also gives some helpful tips for how to stop smoking after your extraction. He says he doesn't smoke at all for the first 6 to 10 hours ever. He warns that if you smoke, the suction will yank the blood clot out and you'll get dry socket and could get infections.

And it's not just the act of smoking that can cause problems; the tobacco and chemicals in cigarettes, including nicotine, can slow down healing, increase pain, and put you at a higher risk of infection.

So, what can you do about it? The best thing to do is to reduce your tobacco use, not just after surgery, but a couple of weeks before surgery as well. And then you must make sure not to smoke after your surgery.

While for most smokers, just the thought of having to give up smoking, even for a short period of time, makes you want to light up even more, it's imperative that you do everything you can to not smoke too soon after extraction.

Some people even opt to take an extraction as an opportunity to quit smoking once and for all. Your dentist will be more than happy to provide you with resources so you can start planning your quit-smoking journey.

If quitting tobacco right now just isn't in the books for you (someday though!), you can consider the following tips.

This video is not meant to be official advice, but it's a look at how one smoker deals with the process in a realistic way. We are not endorsing this, and you should always talk to your dentist if you know you are going to have to smoke.

What are the risks of smoking after wisdom teeth removal?

Just like with normal tooth extraction, it's not recommended to smoke after wisdom tooth extraction either. Smoking after wisdom teeth extraction can result in the same problems as smoking after any other extraction.

In fact, the pain from smoking after wisdom tooth extraction could be even worse because wisdom tooth wounds are likely to be larger and already quite painful.

And, as we mentioned above, the chemicals from cigarettes can also delay the healing process, and smoking after wisdom tooth removal can result in dry socket.

How long after tooth extraction can I smoke?

Most dentists recommend that you refrain from smoking for at least 72 hours after you get your teeth extracted, wisdom or otherwise. That's three whole days without smoking a cigarette. This is the minimal time needed to allow blood clots to form and get the healing process up and running.

After three days it becomes significantly more difficult for the suctioning action of smoking to dislodge blood clots, however, it's always still a possibility.

What's more, every patient is different. If you suspect you will have difficulty not smoking after getting a tooth pulled, talk to your dentist to confirm the right timing for you.

Unfortunately, you may even find out that your dentist recommends you wait even longer to smoke, like if you've had multiple extractions or wisdom tooth removal.

Can you smoke 24 hours after tooth extraction?

If you're lucky, your dentist might say that you should stop smoking after tooth extraction for 24 hours. However, even they will tell you that it's best to wait the full 72 hours.

If you smoke after just 24 hours, you are putting yourself at a much higher risk of complications, delayed healing, increased pain, infection, and of course, the dreaded dry socket.

Vaping after tooth extraction

Smoking can increase pain!

While vaping is generally considered to be less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes, it can still be detrimental to oral and overall health.

And as far as vaping after a tooth extraction, well, the risks are pretty much the same as they are with smoking regular cigarettes. That’s because e-cigarettes and vape pens can also contain nicotine, which reduces the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream, can cause inflammation, harm oral tissues, and can make healing more difficult. 

Another aspect that we haven’t mentioned yet, is that vaping and smoking can also cause complications during the actual oral surgery. 

As far as dry socket goes, vaping requires the same sucking action as smoking, to draw the smoke from the e-cigarette and into your lungs. That means that you are just as likely to get dry socket from vaping as you are from traditional cigarettes. 

How long do I have to wait to vape after tooth extraction?

The same goes for vaping as for smoking traditional cigarettes. You should ideally wait 72 hours or three full days after tooth extraction before you begin vaping again. Anything less and you severely increase your risk of dry socket and other complications like increased pain, infection, and delayed healing.

How to smoke after tooth extraction

The answer here is easy: don't do it. If you feel that you absolutely need to smoke before the bare minimum of 24 hours (only for minor extractions) has passed since your extraction, then you need to speak to your dentist.

In the meantime, do your best to get by with nicotine patches and distract yourself with your favourite activities (besides smoking of course!).

If you know you're going to want to smoke after surgery, you can talk to your dentist about stitching the extraction site shut, which will help keep the blood clot in place.

Can I smoke after tooth extraction with gauze?

Smoking after tooth extraction with gauze is still not allowed within the first 24 to 72 hours after tooth extraction. However, when you do resume smoking, gauze is essential. Your dentist may advise you to place gauze over the site of extraction to further prevent dry socket.

Tips for avoiding smoking after tooth extraction

how long to wait to smoke after tooth extraction
When can you smoke after tooth extraction?

As we've mentioned above, patients who smoke tobacco or vape after a tooth extraction have a much higher risk of experiencing dry socket than those who don't smoke after tooth extraction.

In one study, it was found that dry socket happens in 12% of patients who smoked after getting a tooth removed. And among people who didn't smoke after a tooth extraction, only 4% developed dry socket.

Again, it's the sucking motion from inhaling smoke that can cause dry socket. The blood clot that forms over the site of extraction can be dislodged, which exposes the bare bone underneath and causes excruciating pain.

Conclusion

Dentists will instruct you not to smoke at all after tooth extraction and will recommend that you wait for at least 72 hours before smoking again. That's because smoking after a tooth extraction is dangerous for a number of reasons:

  • The heat of the smoke can cause inflammation
  • The chemicals in tobacco can cause gum disease
  • Nicotine can slow the healing process
  • The sucking motion of smoking can cause dry socket

The following table shows a brief recap of the best ways to avoid complications after tooth extraction and how effective each method is:

Prevention method

How effective is it?

Using a nicotine patch instead of smoking or vaping

Very

Getting stitches or using gauze

Not very

Smoking before you're supposed to

High risk of dry socket

If you've just gotten a tooth extraction it's also important to take care with what you eat — you can have a look at our article dedicated to what to eat after tooth extraction as well.

FAQs

Can I smoke just one cigarette after tooth extraction?

No, whether you have just one cigarette or several doesn't matter. It only takes smoking one cigarette to dislodge a clot and cause dry socket so it's best to wait 72 hours before smoking.

When can I smoke after tooth extraction?

Your dentist or oral surgeon will advise you to wait as long as possible after you get your tooth extracted to begin smoking. The minimum time is usually 72 hours, but you should ask your dentist.

How long after wisdom teeth removal can I smoke cigarettes?

Wisdom tooth removal can be an invasive process and require extra healing. That's why it's very important to refrain from smoking for at least 72 hours after the extraction.

How does smoking cause dry socket?

Smoking causes dry sockets because of the suction created when you inhale smoke from the cigarette. This motion can move the blood clot that forms over the site of the extraction. When the blood clot is gone, the bone underneath the extraction site is exposed, causing severe pain and delaying healing.

Smoking After Tooth Extraction: When Can You, and What Are the Risks?
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Contributors:
Natalie used to work as a Community Health Worker and Health Insurance Navigator. She continues to follow her passion for connecting people with the healthcare they need by writing informative content about dentistry and medicine.
Amanda combines her medical background with her love for writing to bring you informed and accurate content at Dentaly.org.