Dental Implants and Smokers

Don’t compromise the implants process

Dental implants have had a dramatic impact on the way that people choose to replace lost teeth, something that we are well aware of at our Sutton Coldfield practice. They are strong and once in place can be cared for in exactly the same way as regular teeth. In fact, there are virtually no disadvantages if you have a healthy dental implant procedure. This is in contrast to dentures which many people find to be uncomfortable and can restrict the diet of a wearer as some foods can be difficult to eat.

Briefly, a dental implant is a titanium screw which is placed into the jawbone which then attaches itself to the implant in a process called osseointegration. It is this process which provides the extremely strong basis for a crown to then be attached to. Dental implants can last for a whole lifetime and should last for a minimum of 20 years given the correct care.

The success rate for having dental implants placed is extremely high, but there is one group for whom the risks of failure are significantly increased. Yes, I’m afraid it’s yet more bad news for smokers. As well as affecting a person’s overall health, smoking can have a negative impact on dental implants and many dentists will in fact refuse to perform the procedure unless the patient refrains from smoking for a period either side of the procedure. This is because smoking increases the risk of rejection of the implant and can increase the risk of gum disease too.

The reason for this increase in rejection is that for a healthy and successful implant, there needs to be a good supply of blood to the gums to speed up the healing process. Smoking is known to restrict the blood flow and therefore the healing period is slower and less effective in smokers. This also gives gum disease a chance to take hold as the chances of fighting infections decrease. It should be noted that whilst this article relates to dental implants, smoking has the same effect with extractions for example.

There is good news for determined smokers though in that even stopping smoking temporarily for a period of time either side of the procedure, perhaps two or three months, significantly increases the chances of a successful dental implant. Resuming smoking after this though will still have a negative effect on your oral health and also raises the chances of oral and mouth cancers in the future.

Another factor which smoking affects is bone density. Smoking has been shown to reduce the density of bone in the body and this applies also to the jawbone where the dental implant will be placed. If the bone is too thin, then a dental implant may not be able to be placed without the prior need for a bone graft. This procedure inevitably delays the process and also adds to the cost of the treatment as well.

Clearly there are all round benefits to stopping smoking, not just if you are thinking of dental implants but even more importantly for your overall health and well-being.