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Smoking After Tooth Extraction : First thoughts
Picture having an odor coming from your mouth, not the regular bad smell in the morning before brushing your teeth, but a disgusting stench that will simply not go away even after trying all possible mouth-wash formula. And before contemplating about losing those close physical contacts with family and friends from a bad breath, imagine also a situation where you experience an intense pain that spreads all over your face and to vital head organs, such as your ears.
Well, it is not even easy to imagine all that.
Bad news, however, is that one can undergo such traumatizing experiences, when, after a tooth extraction, they continue with their smoking habit. But fortunately, the good news is that if smokers can heed the dentist’s usual advise for temporarily quitting smoking for at least 72 hours, such humiliation from a bad-smelling mouth, and pain from a decaying extraction site, could be avoided.
What Happens in a Tooth Extraction
In most cases when a tooth is extracted, bleeding occurs. What follows is clotting at the extraction site. This clotting is regarded by dentists as a necessary condition for healing, mainly because it protects the wound from entry of germs or other alien particles from food, drinks, or smoke. For this reason, dentists usually advise patients to avoid any risk factors that can hinder a successful healing of the wound. On top of that risk factors list is smoking.
Before leaving the surgery room, dentists always ask their patients whether they smoke, and proceeded to give this common warning- that they should refrain from cigarettes or other smoking paraphernalia, such as pot, or cigar, for at least 3 days (72 hours).
Indeed for smokers, 72 hours can seem like forever, considering that most cannot go for a whole hour without taking some puffs. To many still, a few hours, say 3-6 hours is the maximum they can go, leave alone a single day; so, talking about 72 hours could also be torturous to them. However, many are them that have kept heed of their doctor’s advice and luckily for them, they have escaped from the negative effects prophesied to them whenever they decide to take the forbidden route. (1)
On the contrary, for those who have ignored, it is not a surprise to seem them go back to their doctors claiming not only of a decaying wound, but also of infection of other teeth in the same jaw. As you may be aware, dental nerves are joined, which increases chances of infection of several teeth caused by one decayed one. The situation is almost similar to the case of one rotten potato in a sack, but the tooth situation gets even worse considering the network of nerves and electric-charged dendrites. (2)
Therefore, though the urge to smoke may persist, it is prudent for one to be patient for at least 72 hours regarding smoking after tooth extraction.
Smoking Effects on the Extraction Site
Every puff of smoke contains chemical toxins, which disrupt the normal healing of a wound in the mouth, and more dangerous for bigger wounds, such as a tooth extraction wound. The toxins, higher in number in cigarettes, cause this disruption by delaying healing.
Delayed healing leads to complicated conditions, including dry socket and inflammation.
While inflammation refers to a serious condition of swelling of the affected area followed by pain a deformed face, dry socket is mainly characterized by an odor in the mouth. The chemical toxin’s other way of disrupting the wound is by dissolving the clot, a clot which is supposed to be tough and dry. This leads to further decay in that site, especially after the dissolving clot mixes with other foreign particles.
Smoking has also been found to cause an effect on the normal blood supply, hence causing a risk during crucial healing moments. Smoking shrinks blood vessels, and therefore, hinders sufficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients, especially to needy areas such as wounds, or during exercise. (3)
Smoking also pumps in more carbon monoxide into the blood vessels, indicative of less amounts of oxygen and higher amounts of carbon monoxide. An insufficient amount of oxygen, and even nutrients in the healing wound is simply an oracle of disaster. It gets even uglier when one tries cheap medications or unprofessional interventions, the results of which can be life-threatening.
When one continues smoking after tooth extraction the chances are those effects on the extraction site will continue and finally the person starts feeling uncomfortable with the effects on him/her as a person. The decay, for instance, continues and finally dislodges the clot from its rightful spot on the extraction site.
This becomes very serious as it exposes the tooth nerves and the inner delicate tissues of the gum. (4)
Their exposure leads to deadly infections and complications that are a catalyst for a bad smell and excruciating pain. The bad smell comes from the worsening decay, while the pain comes from infected nerves at the extraction nerves. Since these nerves are connected to others at the jaw, in the mouth and across the face, the pain emanating from the site can be transferred to conjoined areas like electric current.
Hence, if it is not about the psychological trauma caused by friends running from the odor, it is about undergoing a very intense physical pain that would not give in to any medication, and throbs constantly. Such a complication is only solved through expensive medical interventions, such as gauzing of the affected area.
But what would be the need to go through all that when smoking can be avoided temporarily for at least 72 hours. Moreover, considering the other death threatening effects of smoking, such as blood vessel constriction, the temporary break could serve as good opportunity to quit smoking once and for all.
Indeed, it is always easier said than done. However, when it comes to a matter of serious repercussions, as those caused by smoking after tooth extraction, it is better and wiser to be safe than sorry.
The period ensuing a tooth extraction is as delicate and sensitive as the dental nerves can be and I bet you do not want to experience the wrath of dry socket and other serious complications that can result from smoking before at least 72 hours are over.
On that note, after a tooth extraction, it is highly recommended that one keeps away the cigarettes, cigar, and pipes, for a better day, or better yet take that moment as a perfect get-away to a life free of smoking.