Smoking and Dental Implants

Smoking can lead to many dental health problems.   If you are a long-time smoker, it probably contributed to your tooth loss. Smoking also contributes to gum disease, bad breath, and a host of other oral health problems. It can also result in the failure of dental implants for a number of reasons. Various studies have shown that smokers can have as high as double the risk for implant failure than nonsmokers!!:

1.   Slows down the healing time after implant surgery. Slower healing times lead to a more painful, less efficient recovery and increased risk of complications. The nicotine in tobacco reduces blood flow in the oral tissues and oxygen levels in the blood, slowing down the body’s ability to heal. If a patient with dental implants does not heal in a timely manner, the implants may not properly integrate with the patient’s bone and gums.

  1. Smoking can Interfere With Medications.  In this context, it is not the Nicotine but the smoke that actually induces liver enzymes to break down medications at a faster rate. Medication prescribed to control pain can have an attenuated effect on smokers. So, not only does smoking interfere with healing, but it also limits the ability of medications.

3. Interfere with osseointegration: One of the reasons that dental implants are so effective at replacing missing teeth is that the titanium implant posts integrate with the jawbone through a process known as osseointegration.  When any of this tissue or bone is damaged by smoking, there is a higher chance that the dental implant will not form a permanent bond leading to implant failure.

4. Increased Risk of Post-Surgical Infection: Smoking enhances the chance of infection by exposing the implant to toxic chemicals as well as harmful bacteria. If the patient contracts an infection from any other source, the application of antibiotics for the treatment of the infection is made less effective by smoking. These infections after the oral surgery has been performed can affect the gum tissue as well as the bone structure, resulting in possible implant failure.

5. Greater risk of developing peri-implantitis. This is a common complication among smokers undergoing implant surgery. It occurs when inflammation forms in the pockets around the surgical site of a dental implant. Bacteria can fester in the gums, leading to redness, bleeding, and receding gums.   This condition can lead to increased resorption of peri-implant bone. If left untreated, peri-implantitis can lead to implant failure.

6.  Increased Risk of Gum Disease: Even after initial healing from surgery, a smoker’s risk of infection continues and in a way that can jeopardize their dental implants.  When gum disease occurs, the gum becomes inflamed and irritated. In later stages of the infection, the gum and bone tissue is unable to properly support the implant due to bone loss. This means the dental implants can come loose making implant failure far more likely.

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