Smoking With Stitches In Your Mouth, Yea or Nay?

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

It is NOT recommended to smoke while you’ve stitches in your mouth because it will disrupt your surgical recovery. The heat from the smoke as well as its vasoconstrictive properties will delay healing by interfering with it.

smoking sign

If you decide to smoke despite having mouth stitches, there will be consequences. What these consequences are will depend on what type of surgical procedure you had done that required sutures.

  • Did you get an implant placed?
  • Did you get a tooth pulled?
  • Was it an abscess that needed to be drained?
  • Perhaps it was a large laceration?

Let us explain what will happen if you smoke after each of these procedures.

Dental implant placement

We highly recommend against smoking with stitches in your mouth if you just had a dental implant placed. Doing so will increase the risk of implant failure and you may need to redo the procedure once more.

x-ray of a dental implant

Increased risk of failure

Studies have demonstrated that implant failures due to smoking were 9% vs 1% in non-smokers. That means there is a 9x greater risk for surgical failure if you smoke.

  • 31% of the failures in the smokers were in patients who had good bone quality.
  • Only 4% of the failures in non-smokers but they were often from poor bone quality.

Overall, other studies have also shown that smoking significantly enhanced the risk for implant complications. Therefore, please don’t smoke if you want the procedure to succeed.

Redo the procedure

If the implant fails you will need to have it removed so that you can try again in a couple of months. Typically with the failure of the fixture, your dentist may want to place a bone graft prior to trying again.

What all of this means for you is additional expenses because you will need to pay for the implant procedure again. Do you remember how much you paid for it the first time? You’re going to have to pay for it once more.

Therefore if you want to save yourself money and headache, you may want to rethink smoking with stitches in your mouth after getting an implant.

Tooth extraction

You may get stitches after having a tooth extraction and you definitely shouldn’t smoke afterwards. The smoking may cause a dry socket or dislodge the blood clot. Neither of which you’d want because they’re extremely painful and potentially life threatening.

tooth extraction cartoon

Dry socket

Dry socket is a painful dental condition where a blood clot fails to form in the extraction socket. Once it occurs, healing will be severely delayed and only palliative treatment is available since there is no cure.

Smoking after a tooth extraction can increase the chances of getting this condition by a factor of 3. Studies have shown that smokers are 3 times more likely to get it vs non-smokers. That is statistically significant and it means you shouldn’t smoke. Yes, you can get it even with stitches.

Dislodged blood clot

When you smoke, you create a lot of suction pressure in the mouth that can dislodge the blood clot. If that happens you will resume bleeding from the socket. That would completely defeat the purpose of biting on gauze which is to get the bleeding to stop.

Non-stop bleeding can be potentially life threatening when left untreated for an extended period of time. If you don’t want to bleed to your demise, you shouldn’t smoke.

Wisdom teeth removal

Smoking after wisdom teeth removal will have the same detrimental consequences as a regular tooth removal. The wisdom teeth stitches aren’t any different from any other stitches aside from the fact that they’re placed over the wisdom tooth hole.

Basically what we’re trying to tell you is that you can still end up with a dry socket or dislodge the blood clot. The latter will lead to severe bleeding.

Dental abscess drainage

You may receive sutures after getting an abscess drained. The reason why you wouldn’t want to smoke is because nicotine is a natural vasoconstrictor. What that means is it decreases blood flow to the surgical site.

What you want is increased blood flow to the surgical site because you’ll most likely be taking antibiotics. If you restrict blood from going there, there will be less antibiotics traveling to the area with stitches. Therefore there may be an increased risk of re-infection from smoking.

Laceration repair

It’s quite common for lip injuries to sustain some type of laceration which would need stitches. If the cut is on the inside of the lip it may not be as important as one on the outside that affects the vermillion border. If the vermillion border isn’t stitched up correctly, it can ruin your entire facial appearance.

vermillion border of lip
Credit: Mikael Häggström

For a situation that involves sutures for a laceration repair, we highly recommend against smoking while it’s healing. Constantly pursing your lips to draw in smoke and the delayed healing will be detrimental to your recovery.

So, can you smoke with stitches in your mouth?

No, you shouldn’t smoke with stitches in your mouth because there are consequences for doing so. It may result in surgical failure, delayed healing, persistent bleeding, and possibly having to redo the surgery all over again.

If none of those adverse effects dissuade you, perhaps the fact that you have to spend more money to redo the procedure does. You can bet your dentist will charge you for it a second time for a do over since it was completely your fault that you smoked.


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Long Island City, NY 11101

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