Are you a smoker who is contemplating receiving one or more dental implants?
Tobacco users should know that one of the greatest ways of improving your overall health – quitting smoking – is also one of the best ways of helping ensure your dental implants will succeed long term.
Dental Implants Are Meant to Last
Our experience shows a success rate of up to 98% for our dental implant placement. That means that most patients, given proper procedures, good home maintenance, regular visits with their general dentist, and routine periodontal hygiene visits after surgery can expect their dental implants to last a lifetime.
Smoking is one of the biggest red flags that can impede this success. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use in any form increases your risk of gum infection.
Similarly, the longer you smoke and the more cigarettes you smoke, the greater you’re risk of periodontal (gum) disease and bone loss on implants. Healthy blood flow is needed for optimum healing.
Smoking restricts this blood flow and can equate to a greater susceptibility to bacterial infection.
Individuals who smoke and continue to smoke while recovering from dental implant surgery are at a greater risk of experiencing negative outcomes.
What is Peri-implantitis?
Like gum disease, peri-implant diseases can initially present with bleeding or tender gums around the implants from accumulated bacteria.
If the issue is caught right away, we can stop or reverse it.
Assuming that much bone and gum tissue haven’t already been lost, the implants(s) can be saved.
There are many treatments available to help save the implant.
Nicotine Restricts Blood Flow
Nicotine inhalation weakens the body’s immune system defenses, restricting blood flow to your gums, and slowing recovery and healing.
This negative situation can also affect the way the jawbone bonds to the implant in an otherwise normal process known as osseointegration.
There’s a greater risk that the titanium “root” of the implant won’t attach to the jawbone properly.
Dry Mouth is Another Issue
Saliva is important not just for helping us digest food but in helping neutralize acids in food and to protect the gums and tooth enamel against decay and gum disease.
Smoking contributes to dry mouth, a negative situation that can create a condition in which bacteria are more apt to thrive.
Before Dental Implant Surgery
If you’re a smoker, you know there are many reasons to stop beyond increasing the success rate for expensive dental treatment.
You are undoubtedly aware that nicotine also increases blood pressure, heart rate, and risk for many types of cancer.
Your periodontist will strongly encourage you to try to break the habit completely or at least dramatically reduce tobacco use two weeks before surgery and then during recovery to assist in the natural healing process and help decrease the risk of infection.
Your healthcare providers can only control so much; the rest is up to you, the patient!
Are Dental Implants Right for Me If I Still Smoke?
Photo Credit: Unsplash
There is nothing good about smoking. If you smoke, you already know that but choose to do it regardless. That is your decision.
We know that smoking may have small but measurable determinantal effects on your recovery and future success with dental implants.
Tobacco usage isn’t a total contradiction to dental treatment but can increase complications and reduce the longevity of implants and other treatments.
In our experience, each case needs to be individually evaluated to determine the patient’s oral and overall health to see what we might recommend.
Dental Implants are undeniably today’s best solution for teeth replacement. The decision to obtain dental implants will require financial and time commitments.
Why increase your odds of possible failure by smoking?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a variety of smoking cessation tools and support systems to help you in your path toward better oral and overall health.
Good luck on your journey toward quitting. Your mouth – and the rest of your body – will thank you!
About The Author:
Dr. Jeffrey Ganeles is a periodontist, board-certified in periodontics and dental implant surgery, practicing at the South Florida Center for Periodontics & Implant Dentistry. Dr. Ganeles is a fellow of the International Team for Implantology (ITI) and a fellow and member of the board of the Academy of Osseointegration. He is on the faculty of Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine and Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine, where he teaches post-doctoral residents.