Dental Implants And Smoking: What You Need To Know

Dental implants are made of titanium posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone under the gum line. The titanium posts fuse with the jawbone in a process called osseointegration. Titanium is used for implants because they are safe for the human body and cause no issues to your oral and overall health. After osseointegration occurs, the implants themselves are positioned onto the posts to look and feel like your natural teeth. If you smoke, you need to be very careful before and after your dental implantation procedure, but more on that later. First, let’s examine why people need implants.

Why get dental implants?

When our natural teeth fall out or need to be removed by a dentist, we are left with a hole in our mouths where the tooth once stood. If the hole is not replaced with an implant, we run the risk of experiencing bone loss. Bone loss makes us look older because it causes our face to droop and our cheeks to sink. Furthermore, without implants, we won’t be able to properly chew our food or speak – and we could lose lip support. The adjacent teeth may also drift into the empty space where the missing tooth once stood and increase your chances of decay and periodontal disease.

Why smoking is dangerous to your oral health

You know that smoking causes lung cancer – but did you know that it can be detrimental to your oral health, too? Tobacco use increases your risk of oral, tongue and throat cancers. When you smoke, you are subjecting your gums to harsh chemicals that cause them to recede. When the gums suffer from recession they expose the roots of your teeth, leaving your teeth sensitive to hot and cold.

Besides increasing your risk for certain oral cancers and gum disease, smoking reduces your sense of taste and smell, causes bad breath, stains your teeth, adds to the accumulation of plaque and the formation of tartar, increases your heart rate, and leads to the dreaded “smoker’s cough,” a dry cough that eventually produces excess phlegm. Tobacco use is also the leading cause of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other breathing problems. Another issue with smoking is that it delays the healing process following dental work.

Why smoking with dental implants is risky

Dental implants provide you with many benefits, such as the ability to chew and speak properly and the restoration of your facial and jawbone structure. However, when you use tobacco products, you are negating all the positive aspects of implants. Implantation is a surgical procedure, after which your body will need to heal. As aforementioned, smoking delays our body’s natural healing process by decreasing the amount of oxygen and blood that flows through our circulatory system. Without the right amount of blood and oxygen, the healing process slows down and a simple procedure like dental implantation can take weeks, even months to recover from. Moreover, smokers are more receptive to infections and implant failure.

What is implant failure?

Although implants are made of titanium, which is a durable and safe material, smoking can damage your implant. When an implant fails it can bend or crack due to the excess pressure put on your mouth by smoking. When you inhale, the sucking motion can cause the implant to move over time. It can also make the tissue surrounding the implant become inflamed and damage the bone as well.

What are the symptoms of implant failure?

Implant failure is marked by swelling or inflammation of the gums and pain. You may also feel like the implant has become loose or is moving. At the first signs of implant failure, contact your dentist immediately. If implant failure occurs, your dentist will need to remove it and replace it with a new one only once the surrounding bone and tissue have healed.

How can you quit smoking?

If you are currently a smoker, smoking cessation is something that you really should consider. Talk to your dentist and doctor about strategies to quit smoking. Your dentist can also screen you for early signs of periodontal disease and oral cancer. If caught early enough, you may be able to reduce the effects of those diseases and slow down their progression. Your dentist can also recommend a brand of sugarless gum you can chew to help with your cravings and help you create a balanced diet so that these cravings don’t lead to cavities.

Please contact Dawson Dental for more information about the dental implantation procedure, the negative effects of tobacco use or to book your appointment. Smoking is detrimental to your oral and general health, but we can help push you in the right direction to finally kick this bad habit for good.