August 17, 2021
Dental implants are considered the gold standard of tooth replacement. They’re an excellent solution for patients with missing teeth, allowing them to eat, speak, and smile with full confidence once again! However, smoking can affect not only oral health but the long-term survival of implants as well. Are you a smoker and thinking about pursuing this method of tooth replacement? Here’s what you should know about smoking and dental implants.
The Link Between Smoking and Oral Health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 16 million Americans each year fall prey to diseases caused by smoking. Several studies have shown that smokers are more susceptible to oral health issues, including gum tissue loss, jawbone loss, cancerous lesions, and much more.
When smoke is inhaled, it burns the tissues inside your mouth, thickening the top layer of skin cells. It also affects your salivary glands, making your mouth drier and the perfect breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria. Plus, since nicotine and tobacco affect the blood vessels closest to the skin, it results in less blood flow to the gums. That affects immune mechanisms and the body’s ability to heal.
How Does Smoking Affect Dental Implantation?
Many dentists and oral surgeons refuse to perform the dental implant procedure on longtime smokers because their jawbone and gums are often in an unhealthy condition, preventing successful treatment. A dental implant relies on a process called osseointegration, where the bone fuses on and around the implant post. Once completed, the implant is held securely in the jawbone, providing a durable foundation for a restoration. However, smoking affects osseointegration and can delay healing. As a result, the risk of infection and implant loss is much higher.
Can I Smoke Once My Implants Have Healed?
Usually, dentists advise patients to avoid smoking at all costs during the osseointegration period to ensure successful treatment. But what about after the implants have healed? It’s still a good idea to stay away from tobacco products as they can result in implant failure. One study revealed that twice as many implant failures occurred in people who smoked compared to non-smokers. Plus, smoking can increase the rate of bone loss around dental implants.
How to Ensure Successful Treatment
Even though dental implants might not be a good solution for smokers, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re no longer an option! Here are a few ways you can minimize the risk of complications and failures:
- If you’re a smoker, try to quit completely before getting dental implants. Consult with a medical professional about solutions that could help.
- If quitting sounds impossible, try and stop smoking for at least a week before treatment and at least two weeks after.
- Practice good oral hygiene! Brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and see your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups.
Ultimately, your dentist will do everything they can to help you achieve a smile you’re proud of. If you’re a smoker, they can help you get started on a plan to quit smoking so you can get dental implants.
About the Practice
At Estrada Dentistry, we have helped patients achieve and maintain their best smiles for over 25 years. We offer comfortable, state-of-the-art, personalized dental services that are guaranteed to leave you satisfied. If you’re missing one or more teeth, we can restore a full grin with dental implants. Visit our website or call (757) 548-1611 to get started on your journey!
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