Smoking And Its Effect On Dental Implants

Smoking, both before and after treament, could be devastating for your new implants

Diagram of a dental implantIt seems like a lifetime ago now, when pubs were full of smoke and doctors sometimes suggested smoking as a way to ease stress. With advertising of cigarettes now banned in many arenas, and a ban on smoking in pubs etc, this definitely seems to have encouraged more and more people to quit.

This is obviously a good thing, not only from a health perspective, but even a 20 a day smoker would now be spending around £4,000 a year, an amount that would buy a very nice holiday indeed. Despite all this though, there are still thought to be in the region of seven million smokers in the UK. Many of these will develop general health issues because of it and will also be at significant risk of poor oral health.

General oral health issues

Before we move on to discuss smoking’s relation to dental implant problems, it is worth taking a brief look at some of the main general issues that smoking can cause in relation to your oral health.

Gum disease – Smokers are at a much greater risk of gum disease than non smokers. A combination of chemical irritants and dry mouth are at least partially responsible for this. In addition to this, nicotine narrows the already tiny blood vessels in the gums which help to supply the blood flow and help healing. Infections are therefore also more likely.

Bad breath/halitosis – The smell of cigarette smoke on someone’s breath is not attractive. The worst of the smell though often comes from poor gum health (see above) and can be very unpleasant indeed.

Oral cancer – Although not the most prominent cancer; oral or mouth cancer, can have devastating effects. In some cases it can lead to facial disfigurement and even fatalities. We always look for possible signs of this during your check up at our Canterbury practice and will refer you to your GP for further investigation if we see anything of concern.

Smoking – Implications for implant placement

As many of our Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic patients will be aware by now, a tooth implant is, in essence, an artificial tooth root that is placed into the jawbone to replicate a natural root. It isn’t just a case of placing it though. For the new implant to be held securely, sufficient time (usually around 3 months) is needed to allow the bone to bond with the implant. It is this which gives dental implants their strength and stability.

As we know, gum disease, and especially periodontitis, can severely affect the bone and cause a degree of bone loss. The less bone that is available for the implant to be placed into, the more difficult the procedure becomes. As we mentioned earlier, smoking is the single biggest cause of gum disease and it is therefore essential that implant patients cease smoking for a period of time before treatment commences. We will also provide a thorough gum health check in order to give the implant every chance of being successful.

Smoking following a new implant

If you are thinking that you could stop smoking in order to have the implant placed and then resume afterwards, please think again. Smoking at any time at all is a threat to your implants and, in fact, all of your teeth. Especially in the osseointegration period though, when the implant and bone are fusing, smoking can be very harmful indeed and infections are much more likely which could cause the implant to fail.

Although periodontitis is the main risk to both implants and natural teeth, there is another condition which is specific to dental implants. This is called peri-implantitis and is similar to periodontitis except that it also affects the soft and hard gum tissue that surrounds your new implant. Again, this is more likely if you smoke and could cause implant failure.

A positive implant outcome

Whilst the above might sound a little ‘doom and gloom’ the fact is that if you don’t smoke, the chances of a successful dental implant placement are very high indeed. Our Canterbury patients can be assured that they will be given the best possible care. For conveniene and speed, we also have our own laboratory on site with experienced dental technicians. We appreciate that having a dental implant placed can be a big step for some people. It does involve a minor surgical procedure, albeit one that should not be uncomfortable and no more so than any other invasive treatment. It is not the cheapest tooth replacement method available and so we will be pleased to discuss our payment plans to help you spread the cost of the treatment.

We pride ourselves on helping our patients as much as possible and are always available to answer any questions that you might have about this and any other procedure. If you would like to arrange a consultation with one of our implant dentists, please call Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic on 01227 463529. We look forward to seeing you!