Dental implants are a popular choice for those looking to replace missing teeth. However, it is important to be aware that smoking can have a negative impact on the success of implants. You should speak to a dentist that offers free consultation appointments to discuss this in greater detail, but if you’re a smoker, you should seriously consider quitting. Read on if you’d like to know the risks of dental implants and smoking.
Oral health and smoking
Most people are aware of the dangers of smoking, although they may not have thought about it specifically in relation to their oral health. Tobacco use can cause various oral health problems, including gum disease, tooth decay, and oral cancer. Smoking also increases your risk of developing periodontitis, a severe gum infection that damages the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth.
Dental implants and smoking
Periodontitis is closely related to peri-implantitis — an infection that affects the tissue surrounding dental implants. Ultimately, it can lead to the loosening of a dental implant and failure of the treatment.
Smoking also impacts the healing process after dental implant surgery. It decreases the amount of blood flowing to the gums, slowing the healing and osseointegration that should occur (fusing with the jawbone). Additionally, if the healing process is affected, it leaves the area open to infection, leading to implant failure before it has had a chance to integrate with the jawbone.
How does smoking affect dental implants?
The chemical nicotine contained in tobacco smoke constricts blood vessels, reducing blood flow containing nutrients and oxygen. Immediately after dental implant surgery, this can have a disastrous effect, affecting the body’s immune response and leaving it open to infection.
Over the long term, smokers tend to have more tartar build-up on the teeth than non-smokers. Tartar is a hard deposit that forms on the teeth and can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning treatment.
While smoking does not directly cause tartar, it does contribute to its formation. Smokers are more likely to have tartar because of the staining that smoking causes. The teeth become stained and yellowed, which provides a surface for tartar to adhere to. In addition, smokers are more likely to have gum disease, which can also lead to tartar build-up.
Furthermore, inhaled smoke may burn the soft tissues in the mouth. In time, the top layer of skin may thicken, resulting in scaly patches (keratoses) that may block or damage the salivary glands. Saliva is essential to wash away harmful plaque to prevent damage to the gums and bone supporting your dental implants.
Is smoking e-cigarettes harmful to dental implants?
E-cigarettes have been marketed as safer than traditional cigarettes. Although e-cigarettes do not contain smoke, they produce a vapour that is inhaled. The vapour contains nicotine and other chemicals. Side effects from e-cigarettes include a dry mouth and irritation. This may create an environment that harbours harmful bacteria that affect gums, which may impact dental implants.
So, what are the risks of dental implants and smoking e-cigarettes? The truth is that no one really knows their effect on the body, as not enough research has been carried out.
Will I be able to have dental implants if I smoke?
Many dentists will not place a dental implant in people who smoke because implant failure is too high. However, each case is considered on its own merits. Get a free consultation at your local dental clinic to assess your chances of having successful dental implant surgery.
Taking care of dental implants if you smoke
If you continue to smoke with a dental implant, you must pay even closer attention to your oral hygiene regime and implant maintenance. You should—as a minimum—carefully clean around your implant twice daily.
Use floss—or interdental brushes—and brush the surfaces of the artificial tooth thoroughly with a toothbrush. You may need to invest in an oral irrigator to reach places where flossing or interdental brushes can’t. The process aims to remove plaque bacteria and prevent it from forming colonies that can attack the soft tissues in your mouth and lead to peri-implantitis around the dental implant.
As well as your regular oral hygiene routine at home, it’s essential to see a dentist as often as they recommend. Your dental implant will need to be monitored regularly as neglected implants can be susceptible to the tartar build-up that leads to peri-implantitis.
It may well be that you will require additional deep cleaning treatments at the dental clinic to keep your teeth and dental implants healthy. Treatments may include root planing and scaling—a dental procedure involving the removal of tartar, calculus, and plaque from the teeth, gums and dental implant. This procedure is vital for preventing gum disease and keeping teeth and gums healthy. A dentist or dental hygienist may carry out scaling and root planing.
Dental implants and smoking are not recommended— some dentists will not consider you for implants if you are a smoker. However, if you already have implants and are a smoker, you must pay close attention to your oral hygiene and maintain regular dental visits with the dentist. Dental implants are not a cheap option, so you’ll want to protect your investment and your health as best you can. Get a free dental consultation near you today, and call us for an appointment.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
Mayo Clinic: Periodontitis
American Academy of Periodontology: Peri-Implant diseases
CDC: Smoking, gum disease and tooth loss