When you have lost teeth, dental implants offer confidence and reliability that is not attainable with other restoration methods, such as dentures. Implants look like natural teeth and stay put, just like real teeth.
But to make the “magic” happen, there is some serious work to be done. Implants are an invasive cosmetic dentistry treatment. During the surgery, a structure that will hold the new prosthetic tooth is embedded in the jaw bone. After the implant and bone have fused, which can take two to six months, extensions and false teeth are attached. This can be done at our Orange County offices.
The ideal candidate for dental implants has good oral health and good overall health, which means smokers have some obstacles to overcome. Because smoking inhibits recovery after surgery, smokers have a higher risk of implant failure. A key step smokers can take is to stop smoking, ideally permanently. If you can’t stop entirely, you should at least stop for a period before and after surgery to improve your chances of a successful implant.
How Smoking Affects Implants
Smokers have a higher post-operative infection rate and tend to heal more slowly, which can cause additional difficulties. Specific issues caused by smoking include:
- Periodontal Disease - Smoking puts you at greater risk for gum disease, which is the number one cause for tooth loss and dental implant failure. Smokers are not only more likely to suffer from gum disease than nonsmokers, but they are also likely to have more severe gum disease.
- Peri-implantitis - Smokers are more likely to develop peri-implantitis, which occurs when mucosal pockets form around the dental implant and prevent the implant from bonding with the bone. This can lead to implant failure if not treated. Though non-smokers can suffer from the disease also, smokers tend to be more susceptible and have more severe cases.
- Infection - Smoking can increase the risk of infection around an implant and make it more difficult for the body to fight the infection.
- Complications with Medication - Smoking may interfere with medications, like antibiotics. This increases the risk of infection and implant filature.
- Slow Recovery - By reducing oxygen to the blood, smoking inhibits the body’s ability to heal. This can make it hard for the jaw bone to fuse around the implant and increase the likelihood of implant failure. Nicotine reduces blood flow in the mouth, which slows healing.
As the above complications show, smoking presents obstacles. Studies show a smoker’s risk of implant failure is two to 10 times greater than a non-smoker.
What You Can Do
You can take the first step to a successful implant now by quitting smoking. The effects of smoking begin to reverse after quitting, improving your chances for a successful implant. If you cannot stop smoking entirely, then you should at least stop smoking for a period before the surgery and throughout the recovery phase.
To find out if you qualify for implants, please call us. We can sit down and discuss your concerns, mapping out any extra steps we can take to improve your chances of success.