If you are a smoker and you have scheduled a wilmington tooth extraction, you need to consider your tobacco use prior to and immediately following your surgery. While it is not comfortable to think about having to quit smoking for more than 72 hours, but tobacco use after major surgery is not helpful to healing process. You may be swollen and in pain from the surgery but all you want is a quick cigarette. A little planning and extra care will help those 3 full days pass more easily.
After the dentist or oral surgeon removes your tooth, the spot where the tooth used to be develops a blood clot. This blood clot is like a scab in your gums to protect the jawbone and nerve endings and help the extraction site heal. Just like a scab that comes off too soon and sets back your skin from healing, when a blood clot gets dislodged too soon a dry socket can result. Not only will a dry socket slow the healing process, but it will add to the discomfort your mouth is already feeling.
If you are a smoker, of cigarettes, cigars or electronic cigarettes, you are at a higher risk of developing a dry socket. The nicotine from the tobacco causes your body to circulate blood less effectively and it decreases the oxygen in your blood. Both of these affect your healing ability. The additives in any tobacco products can introduce foreign material to the open wound in your mouth and cause a serious and preventable infection.
The act of inhaling and sucking on your cigarette can dislodge the blood clot from its place. Dentists encourage patients to avoid using straws after surgery so even electronic cigarettes are not good choices over regular tobacco products. More importantly, if you do not have stitches in place on the extraction site, aspirating your cigarette can lead to a dry socket. In order to ensure your mouth heals as quickly as possible and you do not have to suffer the sharp pain that spreads across your face from a dry socket, waiting to smoke 72 hours is the best suggestion.
Two weeks prior to your surgery, you may want to consider decreasing your tobacco use. This will help your body slowly adjust to lower nicotine levels, change your habits and allow your body to heal better without nicotine affecting the healing process as much. Some dentists even encourage their patients to consider using the oral surgery as a reason to quit smoking all together, but this rarely seems to be an effective argument. As your surgery approaches and you find that you are not yet ready to quit smoking all together, you can buy some nicotine patches to use immediately following surgery.
In the first 72 hours following surgery, you should only use a nicotine patch. Once you are ready to start smoking again, you need to remember to inhale as gently as possible. If you know you want to smoke after surgery, you should ask your dentist or oral surgeon to use stitches on your extraction site. The stitch will help keep the blood clot in place and keep you more comfortable and healthy. When you choose to smoke, try to keep a piece of gauze over your extraction site to help keep anything from getting into the hole in your gums. While you are still healing from the extraction, do not use nicotine gum or chewing tobacco and be sure to talk to your dentist before starting using those after surgery.
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