Smoking and a Wisdom Tooth Extraction

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The third molars in the human mouth, also called the "wisdom" teeth, often require extraction. You may require wisdom teeth removal for a number of different reasons. There are certain aftercare procedures you must follow after your oral surgeon removes your wisdom teeth. If you are a smoker, you must take extra care during healing.

Causes

The University of Maryland Medical Center advises that a common cause of wisdom tooth extractions in smokers is periodontal disease. Smoking cigarettes, pipes and cigars causes inflammation of the gums. This inflammation causes a greater production of cytokines, immune factors that cause periodontal disease. Wisdom teeth already provide an excellent place for the bacteria that lead to periodontal disease, like P. gingivalis, to grow. Adding nicotine to these bacteria also increases cytokine production.

Immediate Aftercare

The University of Oregon Health Center recommend biting on gauze until the numbness from your wisdom tooth extraction wears off. This generally takes one to two hours. During this time, you must be careful to keep the area clean, so you can't smoke and you must keep your fingers away from the area.

Day One Aftercare

Within the first 24 hours after your wisdom tooth extraction, a blood clot will form over the hole. This blood clot is vital, as it keeps you from experiencing dry socket, or alveolar osteitis. The American Dental Association reports that dry socket may delay healing and require special treatment like medicated gauze dressings and additional pain medication.

Sucking actions, such as drinking from a straw or dragging on a cigarette, may dislodge the blood clot and increase your risk of developing dry socket. Therefore, you should not smoke during the first day after your oral surgery.

Continued Healing

You should avoid smoking for at least the first five days after your extraction, advises the University of Oregon Health Center. There is a continued risk of the sucking action of smoking dislodging the clot. The nicotine in the cigarette may also cause dry socket by breaking down the blood clot.

Warning

If you wait five days to smoke, but the blood clot still dislodges when you do, be alert for symptoms of dry socket. The Mayo Clinic advises that these symptoms may include bad breath, pain at the extraction site that may extend back to your ear, and swollen lymph nodes. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your oral surgeon immediately.

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