Vaping and smoking traditional cigarettes have long been associated with affecting both oral and overall health. Smoking restricts blood flow which can harm oral tissues, causing gum disease and gum recession, which can expose the roots of your teeth.
After dental surgery, vaping is not advised for at least 96 hours (four days). Smoking e-cigarettes after a wisdom tooth removal can impact your healing as nicotine products restrict blood flow, inflame the gums, and damage your overall oral health.
During these 96 hours, your mouth is recovering from the invasive process of oral surgery. The adverse effects of smoking after tooth extraction can include inflammation, infection, delayed healing, and a painful condition called dry socket.
A cigarette and an e-cigarette contain some of the same toxins and require the same sucking motion. Every time you draw smoke after a tooth extraction, the sucking action can cause serious problems at the extraction site, and the risks for other complications increase.
What Are The Potential Side Effects Of Vaping After Oral Surgery?
Unfortunately, for smokers of both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes, there are many potential side effects if you resume smoking too early after a wisdom teeth extraction.
Some of these complications are unrelated to the chemicals in tobacco use and e-liquid, but nonetheless can be pretty brutal. They include:
- Pulling out the blood clots at the extraction site (dry socket)
- Irritation and inflammation of the healing gum tissue
- Delayed healing
- Infection and abscess
Dry socket occurs when a clot is forcibly removed from the socket created at the tooth extraction site. The clots keep the extraction site shut and stop bleeding.
If the clots are gone, the bone underneath your jaw is completely exposed. This causes severe pain, increases your risk for infection, and delays healing.
But dry socket isn’t related to the chemicals in vape pens (and cigarettes). So how does smoking a vape cause it?
Well, the same sucking action used to take a drag from your vape pen is the same one used to smoke cigarettes. After tooth extraction, this sucking motion can essentially vacuum the clot out of the socket, causing severe pain and delaying healing.
Other side effects of smoking after tooth extractions are irritation and inflammation. If you begin smoking too soon, you can seriously irritate the extraction wounds, which can lead to inflammation, delay healing, and cause increased pain.
Because smoking restricts blood flow, if you begin smoking immediately after wisdom teeth removal, you can slow the healing process in the gums (where expedited healing is what you want most).
Lastly, vaping immediately after tooth extraction can cause infection and abscesses. An abscess is caused when harmful bacteria penetrate the gums into the underlying tissue.
If you happen to be the unfortunate victim of an abscess, you’ll quickly realize that the pain of a dry socket is a walk in the park in comparison. An abscess will likely require a visit to the oral surgeon, antibiotics, and extra healing time.
Even minor extractions of impacted teeth (that are removed without “full” surgery) can leave you vulnerable to these annoying and painful complications.
What To Do During The 96-Hour Waiting Period
We don’t want to sound preachy here, but the number one thing you should consider during your 96-hour wait is to quit smoking. Having actual oral surgery could be the kick-start you need to walk away from smoking for good.
We know it’s really hard to stop smoking or vaping. But now, you’ve got a four-day, medically necessary, smoke-free timeframe – three-quarters of which is the roughest part of nicotine withdrawal!
If quitting isn’t in the cards, nicotine patches are a good option for keeping your sanity while you wait out the clock. You will not be able to chew nicotine gum after having teeth extracted, so a nicotine patch should help.
There are also plenty of other products, including lozenges and prescription medication, that can help you quit or, at the bare minimum, manage your withdrawal. Talk to your oral surgeon about what might work best for you.
Vaping Before A Tooth Extraction
Not only is vaping not recommended for at least four days after a wisdom tooth extraction, it’s also not recommended for at least 12 hours prior.
Besides increasing your risk for the post-op complications listed above, smoking cigarettes or vaping before any surgery can also mess with the following:
- Fighting infection
Firstly, nicotine is known to cause problems with anesthesia, increasing the amount of sedative needed to be effective. Trust us, you don’t want to wake up during surgery. It’s weird.
Secondly, for patients who smoke or vape, your likelihood of infection during surgery also increases. This includes nasty stuff like pneumonia and other respiratory problems.
Finally, smoking increases the chance of inflammation during surgery, which will slow down the healing process and prolong your discomfort after.
When Can You Stop Worrying About Dry Socket?
Of all the complications that can occur from smoking after tooth extraction, dry socket is the most common. Vaping only increases the likelihood because it is a risk regardless of whether you smoke.
While the common advice is to wait for 96 hours, dry socket can still happen between seven and 10 days after surgery. The reality is, if you’re worried about it, you should wait to vape for seven to 10 days.
How Can I Recognize Dry Socket?
A dry socket is often accompanied by a lot of pain, and you’ll generally know as soon as it happens. Your jaw bone will be visible through the gum line and it will be pretty obvious that the blood clot is no longer there.
If your pain is accompanied by a foul smell or the taste of pus, then you have a bigger problem than just a dry socket and you need to contact your doctor or dentist immediately.
Will Vaping Harm A Newly Healed Extraction?
Once the socket created from your tooth extraction has healed, vaping isn’t likely to affect it any longer. That doesn’t mean that vaping is good for it, however, as inflammation, gum recession, and the potential for mouth cancer still exist.
If you’re still concerned about it after four days have passed, you can place a ball of cotton or two on the extraction sites and very lightly inhale from your vape. Don’t purse your lips as you normally would when smoking (or sucking from a straw).
Basically, the more suction you create when you take a drag, the higher the likelihood you will pull free a blood clot, and it really doesn’t take much.
All Things Considered
If you can be strong for the full 96 hours, you’ll probably cross the goal line without having to worry about pulling free a blood clot or causing any other smoking-related complications to the healing process.
Not smoking isn’t the easiest thing to do for four days, but after getting a tooth extracted, smoking a vape and smoking regular cigarettes carry the same risk to your health and healing.
If you can think about it in these terms, and want to avoid the expense of another trip to the dentist, just hold out for a few days. We believe in you. Good luck.