post wisdom teeth extraction: can i start smoking again now?
October 8, 2006 2:04 AM   Subscribe

how long should i wait before smoking after i had my wisdom teeth removed? did i mention that i'm deathy afraid of dry socket?

so this little handout my dentist gave me said that i should abstain from smoking for five days after my operation. i got my teeth out at approximately 2 pm, october 3rd. right now it's 4 am, october 8th. if my gums still feel noticably sore (more or less how they felt two days ago) but not getting any worse, is that a green light to start smoking again?
posted by defmute to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The longer you can wait, the more effective and faster the healing process. If you can wait another 3 or 4 days, you'll reduce your chances of problems still further, until you can visually see with a mirror that your gums have initially healed in that area.

I was a smoker when my first impacted wisdom tooth was removed. It was a lower one, and a very difficult extraction. I began smoking again within about a week, and experienced dry socket, but I don't know that smoking caused the dry socket, so much as it probably exacerbated the condition. At any rate, it was awful. Anything that you can do that allows healing to proceed, is greatly in your interest.

Get nicotine patches if you need them.
posted by paulsc at 2:17 AM on October 8, 2006

I smoke too. I know that it if hard to go w/o a cigarette for five days. I smoked after getting wisdom teeth pulled and I got dry sockets. Believe me, it was not worth it. It was really, really bad.

If you feel like you are going to f-ing die if you can't have a cigarette, may I suggest going on the patch until you are allowed to smoke again? I would stay away from the oral NRTs such as nicotine gum or lozenges, though.
posted by SteveTheRed at 2:18 AM on October 8, 2006

I drastically reduce cigarette smoking after any extraction, but I don't quit entirely. I usually go home, take the pain pills and smoke some stuff, then go to sleep. I allow myself a cigarette after the sleep, then repeat (rinsing my mouth out with warm salt water, as directed).

If you want to play it real safe, just quit smoking. It's stupid to suffer 5 days w/o a smoke, then start again!
posted by Goofyy at 4:50 AM on October 8, 2006 [1 favorite]

Oh, I never had dry sockets, and I've had lots of extractions (wisdom teeth came in sideways, destroying all molars, slowly).
posted by Goofyy at 4:51 AM on October 8, 2006

If it still doesn't feel healed, wait a bit longer. Or, as others have mentioned, use this as an excuse to try quitting for a little while.
posted by antifuse at 5:55 AM on October 8, 2006

Sometimes in life it takes an intervention of fate to help overcome an unhealthy habitual behavior. You have one now. You know you want to at the least be conservative on smoking so as to avoid dry socket. Get a patch to ease the pain. However, this could be your opportunity to stop not just for several days, but forever. Best of luck to you whatever you decide.
posted by caddis at 6:32 AM on October 8, 2006

Have you had your stitches out (or have they dissolved if they're the dissolving kind)? You should be able to smoke once the stitches come out. They're sort of what's holding the the big old clot that makes it a "wet" socket as opposed to the great gaping mess of a "dry" socket. The fear is if you smoke, you'll suck out your stitches and the clot and ta-da! Dry socket! But if the stitches are out, you should be in good shape.

You should fear dry socket. It sucks ... sucks harder than not smoking. Not only is it painful, if you're unlucky enough you'll witness the clot coming out of your mouth. That was one unpleasantry I never hope to experience again.
posted by macadamiaranch at 6:57 AM on October 8, 2006

Holy god. Based on my friend's experience with dry suckets, you should wait about a decade.
posted by danb at 8:19 AM on October 8, 2006

I carefully smoked the next day with no problems. I wouldn't recommend it, but you won't necessarily regret it.
posted by cmonkey at 8:56 AM on October 8, 2006

Going to agree with caddis. I'm not being preachy as I've socially smoked off and on for years (but no longer do) and quit due to extenuating circumstances. Channel the fear you have for dry sockets to see how long you can go without a smoke.

I feel for you - I have to "channel my fear" to have 6 wisdom teeth (that's right!) pulled by the end of the year.
posted by photoslob at 9:36 AM on October 8, 2006

I smoked in the car going home, but I'm crazy. They tell you not to pull any suction in there, it pulls the clot out.
If you can quit, it's a good time to.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 9:44 AM on October 8, 2006

I had a cigarette about a day and a half after getting four wisdom teeth extracted and as far as I know I didn't suffer any ill effects. But I'm stupid. You should listen to your dentist and get some patches.
posted by lekvar at 11:07 AM on October 8, 2006

Ditto the smokers who smoked afterward - *careful*, careful smoking, by which I mean don't actually suck, *gentle* saline rinses afterwards, and if that sounds like far too much of a risk, patches.

My dentist was great with my extraction, though. A minimum of aching for a few days when the anaesthetic wore off, no blood, and very well-sewn stitches that dissolved 5 days afterwards. YMMV, so if you're still painful after 2 days, I'd have to be angels' advocate here. Patch yourself up.
posted by paperpete at 12:02 PM on October 8, 2006

I started smoking carefully again the next day after having all my wisdom teeth out. No problems whatsoever (this was four years ago).

You're not going to guarantee yourself a dry socket just by smoking; apparently the mechanical effect of sucking hard just ups the odds, I guess? I listened to the horror stories and decided that all in all, I'd still prefer to smoke and take my chances. I made sure to rinse with the saline pretty frequently though, and took pretty good care of my mouth the whole time. I also drank a lot of whiskey.
posted by evariste at 1:10 PM on October 8, 2006

(By the way, they gave me a metric shitload of hydrocodone, which I never ended up needing to take. I took one out of curiosity and it didn't really make much difference to me, so I never bothered taking the rest).
posted by evariste at 1:12 PM on October 8, 2006

Ooo, I had a dry socket. I'm not a smoker, but I suspect that an over vigorous mouth rinse did it.

Up to the point of the dry socket, I had had almost no pain at all. My extremely powerful painkillers sat untouched, not due to personal machismo but through a lack of requirement. All was well with the world.

Then, the pain. A website linked above describes a `dull throbbing' but this was more like a constant and bright agony. I took lots of uber strong painkillers, and while the codeine gave me weird dreams, it didn't touch the pain.

I spent about 4 days putting up with it, exhaling a revolting miasma with every breath, constantly short tempered. I got a LOT of work done because it took my mind off it a bit.

I got to the dentist, who looked at it, scraped a bit of crud out, then packed it with some sort of cotton fibers soaked in clove oil. The relief was complete and immediate, the sun broke through the clouds, and angels sang a heavenly chorus.

The cotton fibers remain in the now healed over socket, and I never had any problems with it. My dentist didn't even charge me for his time.

So, if you suspect you have a dry socket, get thee to a dentist immediately. I mistakenly thought the mouth pain was normal healing, and I put up with a lot of agony I didn't need to tolerate.
posted by tomble at 7:56 PM on October 8, 2006 [1 favorite]

You've gotten through the toughest part of quitting smoking, plus you don't have to worry about dry sockets, which I've seen reduce grown men to sobbing, wailing babies. I'd just keep the fear of dry sockets as a motivator to end the habit. Use the money you save to get yourself a nice set of grills for your remaining teeth.
posted by anildash at 8:33 PM on October 8, 2006

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