Tobacco smoking and surgical healing of oral tissues: a review

Indian J Dent Res. Oct-Dec 2008;19(4):344-8. doi: 10.4103/0970-9290.44540.


It is believed that the crew of Columbus had introduced tobacco from the 'American India' to the rest of the world, and tobacco was attributed as a medicinal plant. It was often used to avert hunger during long hours of work. But in reality, tobacco causes various ill effects including pre-malignant lesions and cancers. This article aims at reviewing the literature pertaining to the effect of tobacco smoking upon the outcome of various surgical procedures performed in the oral cavity. Tobacco affects postoperative wound healing following surgical and nonsurgical tooth extractions, routine maxillofacial surgeries, implants, and periodontal therapies. In an experimental study, bone regeneration after distraction osteogenesis was found to be negatively affected by smoking. Thus, tobacco, a peripheral vasoconstrictor, along with its products like nicotine increases platelet adhesiveness, raises the risk of microvascular occlusion, and causes tissue ischemia. Smoking tobacco is also associated with catecholamines release resulting in vasoconstriction and decreased tissue perfusion. Smoking is believed to suppress the innate and host immune responses, affecting the function of neutrophils--the prime line of defense against infection. Thus, the association between smoking and delayed healing of oral tissues following surgeries is evident. Dental surgeons should stress on the ill effects of tobacco upon the routine postoperative healing to smoker patients and should aid them to become tobacco-free.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Ischemia / chemically induced
  • Microcirculation / drug effects
  • Mouth Mucosa / blood supply
  • Nicotine / adverse effects
  • Nicotinic Agonists / adverse effects
  • Oral Surgical Procedures*
  • Platelet Adhesiveness / drug effects
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / adverse effects
  • Wound Healing / physiology


  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Nicotine