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Dental Implants and the Dangers of Smoking

By Alex Hecht on July 24, 2013

Staten Island Dental Implants and SmokingDental implants are a fantastic option offered by many cosmetic dentists for the permanent replacement of missing teeth. Though rare, however, complications can arise and cause dental implants fail. One of the biggest causes of dental implant failure is cigarette smoking. If you are a smoker and considering dental implant treatment, the following overview is intended to education you on the reasons why you should quit smoking during the dental implant process.

Complications Caused by Smoking

Dental implant treatment requires oral surgery and is associated with some risks. In order to ensure proper healing and implant success, it is important to prepare yourself for surgery and follow all post operative instructions. One way to improve the chances of dental implant success is to quit smoking before treatment and during the entire recovery phase. Smoking has proven to greatly impact the body's ability to heal following dental implant surgery and has been linked to the following complications.

  • Periodontal Disease: Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is an infection of the gums, which can lead to bone and tooth loss. Smokers are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease than non-smokers, and smokers are also likely to have more severe infections. When it comes to the dental implant procedure, gum disease can spread into the area around the dental implant and result in complications.  
  • Decreased Blood Flow to the Mouth: The nicotine in tobacco products is known to reduce the blood flow within the mouth. Without adequate blood flow, the body is unable to heal properly. Smoking can greatly increase recovery time following dental implant surgery. 
  • Tissue and Bone Loss: Research suggests that smoking is related to oral bone and tissue loss. This impacts dental implant recovery by inhibiting proper healing, specifically the jawbone's ability to bond to the dental implant, a process called osseointegration, which is vital to implant success. 
  • Peri-Implantitis: Smokers have a greater risk of developing a condition called peri-implantitis following dental implant treatment. Peri-implantitis is when mucosal pockets form around the dental implant. These pockets are generally deep and are also associated with inflammation of the surrounding gum tissue. Peri-implantitis can lead to implant failure if left untreated. Though peri-implantitis can happen in non-smokers following dental implant treatment, smokers have greater risk and generally have more severe peri-implantitis.
  • Dental Implant Failure: Smokers are far more likely to experience dental implant failure than non-smokers. Complications resulting from smoking, like peri-implantitis and periodontal disease, can ultimately cause the dental implant to fail.

Preparing for Dental Implant Treatment 

If you are a smoker and considering dental implant treatment, it is important to understand the complications that are likely to occur if you continue smoking following treatment. Most oral surgeons suggest giving up smoking at least three to four weeks prior to the dental implant procedure and for a minimum of six weeks following surgery. Many patients use this as an opportunity to quit smoking altogether.

Dental implants are not suitable for everyone. Most smokers who qualify for treatment will require extra attention during the dental implant process to ensure success. To discuss your treatment options, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our highly skilled dental team.

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