Can Smoking Interfere with Dental Implants?
Dental implants are titanium screws that are surgically placed in the jaw to provide a support system for dental restorations. Dental implants are an ideal replacement for missing teeth because they look, feel, and function like the natural teeth. They also provide stimulation to the jaw that is vital to preventing bone loss.
Dental implants can be a lifelong solution for lost teeth, but treatment will only be a success if osseointegrations occurs. Osseointegration is the process of the bone tissues fusing around the dental implants so that they essentially become a part of the jaw.
Smoking is one habit that can interfere with osseointegration and compromise the success of dental implant treatment. Dr. Burton Gooch discusses dental implants and the effects of smoking with our Birmingham, AL patients prior to treatment.
How Smoking Can Contribute to Dental Implant Failure
For many years, it has been known that smoking increases the risk of numerous diseases and health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
What some people may not realize is that smoking can also have a negative impact on oral health. Smoking has been linked to gum disease and other dental complications, and it is an especially bad habit for our Birmingham patients who are recovering from oral surgery, such as dental implant placement.
When the body is recovering from any type of injury or surgery, it relies on oxygen and nutrients in the blood supply to aid in the healing process. Unfortunately, nicotine constricts blood vessels and restricts the flow of blood and oxygen.
At the very least, constriction can slow down the healing process so that it takes longer for tissues to recover after dental implant placement. At its worst, smoking can compromise healing to the point that osseointegration cannot occur, in which case dental implant treatment will fail.
Smoking also threatens dental implants that have already successfully fused with the jawbone. Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of gum disease. Gum disease is an infection in the gum tissues that can cause symptoms such as tenderness, inflammation, and bleeding. If gum tissues are infected, they may no longer be able to support dental implants.
Protecting Dental Implants from the Effects of Smoking
The best way to protect dental implants from the effects of smoking is to quit this harmful habit altogether. Of course, Dr. Gooch realizes that this is not an easy process.
If one of our Birmingham patients in unable to quit smoking entirely, they must at least take a break in the weeks prior to and following dental implant treatment. Ideally, patients should refrain from smoking two weeks before dental implant treatment, and at least two to three months after implant placement. This should give tissues ample time to heal and allow osseointegration to occur.
If patients choose to resume smoking after they have recovered from dental implant treatment, they will need to take special care to maintain good oral health. Oral hygiene habits that are especially important to smokers include regular brushing and flossing and biannual dental exams and cleanings.
If you have experienced tooth loss and would like to know how dental implants can restore the strength, health, and beauty of your smile, contact us online at your earliest convenience or call (205) 545-8001. Dr. Burton Gooch would be happy to answer any questions you may have about the dental implant treatment process.