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How Smoking Affects Your Dental Implants

Richard Steinberg Oct 9, 2013

Ellenton Dental Implant Failure from SmokingDental implants are one of the most effective and recommended treatments for tooth loss. Whether you are missing a tooth or need to have one replaced, dental implant surgery can maintain the health of your mouth and jaw beyond the capabilities of other treatment options.

If you are considering implants, you should not only be aware of the procedure, but also the risk factors that may lead to its failure. Smoking is one such risk factor, as explained here by the dentists of North River Dental, a cosmetic dentistry practice in Ellenton.

The Effects of Smoking

Before you even consider having dental implants placed, smoking can already have a harmful effect on the overall health of your gums and teeth.

Research shows that smoking increases the chances of detectable gum disease by up to 300 percent, which also tends to produce a more serious case of periodontitis in smokers. This gum disease further weakens nearby teeth, leading to the risk of tooth loss and the need for implants. Additionally, smoking increases the risk of tooth decay by contributing to bacterial build-up and reducing saliva that would otherwise help clean the teeth.

When it is time to receive dental implants, continued smoking may cause the following complications: 

  • Implant failure: First and foremost, smoking greatly decreases the ability of an implant to properly bond within the jawbone. After having an implant installed, it takes months to fuse with the jawbone while bone, gum tissue, and muscle heal around it. Smoking poses a greater risk to these hard and soft tissues, causing them to become inflamed and unable to properly regenerate. This is a condition called peri-implantitis, and it is a primary reason for implant failure.
  • Infection: Like any surgery, the placement of dental implants carries with it a risk of infection. However, smoking amplifies the risk of infection significantly while lowering the effectiveness of any antibiotics you may be prescribed after surgery. In the event of infection, smokers will have more difficulty recovering. 
  • Slower recovery: Even if a smoker does not experience implant failure, the recovery process will still be longer than if the patient had abstained from the habit. Smoking decreases the body’s ability to regenerate new tissue and heal from wounds, while limiting blood flow, metabolic activity, and respiration - all contributing factors to a patient’s recovery.

All of these potential problems are elevated in patients who have a recent history of smoking. However, abstaining from any tobacco use prior to and following surgery will lessen their risk.

Increase Your Chances of Success

To minimize possible complications or failure of dental implants, patients are recommended to follow these guidelines over the course of their procedure.

  • Quit smoking: The best and healthiest option is to permanently quit tobacco use. The earlier this is done prior to surgery, the better chances one will have of a successful procedure. If permanent cessation is not a viable option, then patients should at least abstain for a number of weeks before and after the surgery, as instructed by the dentist.
  • Avoid alcohol: Similar to tobacco, alcohol can have negative consequences on an implant’s recovery and success rate. It can also result in complications while taking post-surgery antibiotics. Alcohol should be avoided for at least the first few weeks of recovery.
  • Maintain your hygiene: Just like real teeth, implants and their restorations require daily hygienic care. Brushing twice with fluoride toothpaste and flossing each day will help prevent plaque from accumulating on your new implant, while warding off infection.
  • Avoid sticky or hard foods: Any foods that will stick to your implant and pull at it should be avoided during the recovery period. Likewise, don’t eat anything overly hard or crunchy that would put undue pressure on your teeth.

Get Started with Us Today

Remember: there are steps you can take to increase the success of your implant surgery, but it’s equally important to consult a knowledgeable, experienced doctor. Each of our highly qualified dentists would be happy to further discuss the dental implant process with you. Contact our office to schedule a consultation or ask a question about our services.

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