Smoking and its Impact on Dental Implants

Why this Burton dentist requests patients to stop smoking when having dental implants.

There is little disputing the fact that dental implants are the best option available to replace missing teeth. Whilst they may not be the cheapest option available, they offer a strength and stability that simply can’t be matched.

Other options, such as widely used dentures, certainly serve a purpose from a visual perspective, but convenience and stability are often cited as problems by many denture wearers, with an increasing number turning to dental implants as a solution.

Implant health

Anyone wishing to have dental implants placed though, should be aware that there are factors entirely within their control which can contribute to the success of the outcome.

Whilst our staff at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice in Burton are highly skilled and experienced, there are some things that we can’t control directly, such as a patient’s lifestyle.

If a patient is healthy, the risks of a dental implant failing are lower, and generally, failure rate is very low indeed. Some patients though have lifestyles which can add a potential barrier to the success of the implant.

These patients are generally those who smoke and drink heavily. Although there is now overwhelming evidence that smoking and excessive drinking can cause serious damage to your general health, many people do, for one reason or another, still smoke and drink.

Both smoking and drinking are contributing factors to mouth cancer (see our previous blog post), but can also affect dental implants in a number of ways.

Infections

If a dental implant is placed in the mouth of a smoker, a number of things may occur. Firstly, the nicotine in cigarettes has the effect of narrowing the blood vessels in the area where the implant has been placed. This inevitably restricts the flow of blood to the area which slows down the healing process. When this occurs, infections may take hold that threaten the survival of the implant itself.

Dry mouth and gingivitis

Is it well known that smoking and drinking can cause a dry mouth and not only is this an unpleasant feeling when we wake up in the morning with a dry mouth but it also creates the warm dry environment in which the bacteria that cause gum disease thrive. Again, this can threaten the dental implants stability and may cause it to fail.

Our Advice

At our Burton on Trent dental practice, it is not our job to tell people how to live their lives. It is, however, our job to advise them of how best to take care of their teeth and this includes dental implants.

Whether a patient is prepared to stop smoking permanently is a personal decision, but from a professional dental perspective, there is little point in placing a dental implant into the jaw of a heavy smoker unless they are prepared to stop for a period either side of the procedure, usually around three months.

By doing this, the gums and jawbone should be healthy enough to place the implant into and should allow the fusing between the bone and implant to take place successfully.

Providing that this ‘no smoking’ policy is adhered to, there is every chance that the implant placement will be a complete success.

For all implant patients, smokers or otherwise, regular check ups at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice should be maintained to keep the implant in good health.