Dental Implants & Smoking

Posted on Jun 03, 2013 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

We all know that smoking isn’t good for our health, which certainly includes oral health. Smoking complicates the body’s natural ability to heal. It has a drying effect on gum tissues and minimizes blood oxygen, resulting in delayed healing process. Smoking also contributes to a greater potential for bacterial build-up.

To place an implant, both gum tissue and bone are involved in the process. The dental specialist must go through gum tissues to reach the bone, placing each implant at a precise depth and angle. Once the implant is placed, it can take two to six months to become fully anchored by the bone.

For proper healing during this time, a patient needs normal blood circulation to ensure gum recovery and sufficient oxygen levels for the regeneration of bone surrounding the implant. Failures most often occur during this ‘osseo-integration’ phase when the bone is growing around the implant.

In addition, patients can develop a condition known as peri–implantitis. This can cause inflammation around the implant site and pockets of pus that form in gum tissues. Although the potential to develop peri–implantitis exists for any dental implant patient, smokers have a substantially higher risk.

For smokers who develop infections after implant surgery, medications used to combat the infection have a lesser effect because the potency of antibiotics does not work as well on smokers. When infection is not eliminated and works its way into the implant area, your risk for losing the implant is significant.

Because of the greater risk factors, some dental specialists refuse to place dental implants in smokers. With so many negative effects, it is highly advisable to stop smoking prior to implant placement. Just like a hip or knee replacement, implants are not guaranteed because of extenuating circumstances while the healing process is primarily in the hands of the patient.

You can greatly enhance your success rate by quitting smoking at least one week prior to placement and throughout the recovery period. Consider using dental implant treatment to motivate you to become smoke free.

Keep in mind that dental implants enable you to eat a healthy selection of foods while restoring eating comfort and smiling confidence. The many benefits you’ll reap with dental implants are well worth kicking the habit.

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