Smoking after tooth extraction is not a good idea. If you're a smoker, your dentist will give you strict instructions to hold off smoking for as long as possible after you get a tooth removed—ideally 72 hours.
But when you're really jonesing for that nicotine, or you sorely miss your after-dinner ritual, it's certainly easier said than done.
That's why in this article we'll go over the following:
- How long do you have to wait to smoke after you get a tooth extracted?
- 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 dive deep into the topic of smoking after you get your teeth pulled.
Table of contents
Why you shouldn't smoke after a tooth extraction
Smoking cigarettes involves heat from smoke and countless chemicals that can harm teeth, gums, and oral tissue.
As a smoker, you're probably familiar with the effects of staining that smoking has on teeth, but the damage caused by smoking can go far below the surface. Another risk of smoking to your oral health is oral disease.
Specifically after getting a tooth pulled, cigarette smoke can actually increase the pain at the tooth extraction site. What's more, it slows the healing process, leaving you more susceptible to infection and complications.
Bloodflow is also 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.
Why does smoking cause dry socket?
There is a direct relationship between smoking and dry socket. That's because when you get a tooth pulled, part of the healing process requires a blood clot to form at the site of extraction. This blood clot stops more blood from exiting the site, helps protect against infections, and makes sure that your extraction wounds heal.
Stopping bleeding after a tooth extraction is critical for speedy healing.
Any disruption to this clot, like dissolving or falling out, could cause a condition called dry socket. Dry socket is a painful experience, caused by the bone beneath the extraction site becoming exposed. It must be treated immediately to prevent further unbearable pain and infection.
So, 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.
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 caused by smoking could be even worse after wisdom tooth extraction because wisdom tooth wounds are likely to be larger.
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?
So when is it safe to smoke after tooth extraction?
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. 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 that you are going to have a difficult time 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. Read more in our article on dos and don'ts after a tooth extraction.
Can you smoke 24 hours after tooth extraction?
If you're lucky, your dentist might say that you should stop smoking for at least 24 hours after extraction. 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
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 also can contain nicotine, which reduces the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream, which 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.
You can read more about the effects of vaping on oral health in our full guide.
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 smoking 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 favorite 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
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.
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 not to 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.
How to prevent dry socket while smoking
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 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.
This video is not meant to be official advice, but its 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.
Smoking after tooth extraction is dangerous for a number of reasons:
- The heat of the smoke can cause inflammation
- The chemicals in the 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:
How effective is it?
Using a nicotine patch instead of smoking or vaping
Getting stitches or using gauze
Smoking before you're supposed to
High risk of dry socket
If you're looking for professional advice on smoking after tooth extraction, you can talk to a dentist online for free. Talking to a dentist online can help answer any specific questions you have about recovering after a tooth extraction.
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 socket because of the suctioning or sucking motion you use to draw 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.
NCBI: Dry Socket: Frequency, Clinical Picture, and Risk Factors in a Palestinian Dental Teaching Center. Consulted 7th May 2021.