Smoking and Dental Implants

You already know that smoking can lead to lung disease.

Yet smoking also can lead to a great variety of oral health issues, several of them serious: yellow and stained teeth, periodontal disease, tissue and bone loss, loss of teeth, peri-implantitis (a destructive, inflammatory process affecting the tissue that surrounds a dental implant), dental implant failure, and more.

In fact, most dentists recommend that smokers looking to get dental implants quit smoking before undergoing the procedure!

“But,” you may be wondering, “the smoke goes in my lungs; it doesn’t lie on my teeth. Why does it affect my teeth/mouth?”

The smoke you inhale – or the tobacco you chew – can change the type of bacteria that lives in dental plaque (all of us have plaque to one degree or another) and increase the amount of harmful bacteria. Smoking also reduces the blood flow to your gums as well as to the tissue that supports your teeth, making the tissue more likely to become inflamed, possibly loosening the tissue around your teeth, resulting in loose teeth, or even tooth loss.

Gum disease in smokers also worsens more quickly than in non-smokers. What’s more, smokers may not see the tell-tale symptoms of gum disease (bleeding gums) as quickly as non-smokers due to the decreased blood flow. They therefore may not go to a dentist as early for treatment, allowing the disease to continue longer and do more damage.

As for dental implants, because smoking decreases blood flow to the bone and tissues that surround your teeth, your bone doesn’t heal as well following the implant surgery. Smoking also can mean the implant will fail because it will not integrate with the surrounding bone tissue.

A Study found that about 15 percent of dental implants performed on smokers failed while the failure rate of implants on non-smokers was just a bit more than 1 percent.

Still, while the study found that about 85 percent of smokers’ dental implants did not fail, your dentist may still consider it too high a risk, considering the cost of the procedure and the greater risk of inflammation and even infection (sepsis, anyone?)

You smoke and that destroys your teeth or causes tooth loss, so you decide you need dental implants to replace the damaged or lost teeth. But you smoke, so your dentist says he can’t provide you with dental implants.

Still, if you and/or your dentist have noticed considerable bone loss, tissue inflammation, and so on, you really must decide to quit smoking. Your doctor or dentist can help you with advice and even smoking cessation aids.

Then, if your teeth are truly in bad shape and you’d like dental implants, your dentist will be able to perform the procedure with a much higher chance of success.

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