You may have read articles and seen news features proclaiming that smoking doesn’t have to limit you from dental implants. In fact, even videos that warn about lower success rates due to smoking often close with the comforting news that these issues can be mitigated.
While it is certainly true that dental implant technology has improved extensively over the years (e.g. the development of protein film-coated implants that improve integration), that doesn’t mean they are a cure-all for smokers. Many smokers have weak gums and will likely need a graft in order to support their implants. And even if they do get a graft, that healthy tissue could be wiped away if changes aren’t made.
While a temporary hiatus from smoking may help your initial recovery, the site 123dentist.com outlines why this habit could ruin your implants down the line:
Why is smoking bad for your oral health?
Decreased levels of oxygen in the blood leads to a weakened immune system and leaves your mouth vulnerable to infection. This means that bacteria found in your mouth can more easily build-up and infiltrate your gums. The bacteria can quickly destroy gum flesh, causing it to recede and become loose and unhealthy. The gums help to anchor teeth in place, so when their health is compromised teeth can become loose and potentially fall out. When gum disease progresses it can affect the bones and surrounding flesh, causing them to break down, too. Studies have shown that those who smoke are two times more likely to contract gum disease than those who don’t.
There are toothpastes and mouthwashes available on the market produced specifically for those who use tobacco products, however they are not nearly as effective at treating oral issues brought on by smoking as getting rid of the habit is. These products are generally more harsh and abrasive in an attempt to target destructive bacteria but they have no effect in restoring enamel, reversing tooth rot, root rot, gum rot, or preventing any kind of cancer. Read full article at 123dentist.com . . .
An abstract found on the NCBI website also backs up this article’s concerns. Again, this study gives positive information about the improvements of implant technology, but it also warns dentists that they need to notify their patients of all the risks if they smoke. For instance, oral maintenance will be much more stringent if a patient continues to smoke. And patients who smoke are at risk for peri-implantitis, or inflammation, around the surgical site.
In short, you may not have as much free rein as a smoker as you may think. Although dentists recommend abstaining from smoking for a brief time, it may be better to consider giving up the habit if you can. Thankfully, data from Drbicuspid.com shows that the habit is in decline:
CDC: Fewer U.S. adults smoke now than in 2005
The news is mostly positive, as the percentage of U.S. adults who smoke cigarettes declined from 20.9% in 2005 to 15.1% in 2015, and the proportion of those identified as daily smokers declined from 16.9% to 11.4%, according to lead author Ahmed Jamal, MBBS, and colleagues in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (November 11, 2016, Vol. 65:44, pp. 1205-1211).
“The [U.S.] Surgeon General has concluded that the burden of death and disease from tobacco use in the United States is overwhelmingly caused by cigarettes and other combusted tobacco products,” the authors wrote.
“. . . Proven population-based interventions, including tobacco price increases, comprehensive smoke-free laws, antitobacco mass media campaigns, and barrier-free access to tobacco cessation counseling and medications, are critical to reducing cigarette smoking and smoking-related disease and death among U.S. adults,” the authors concluded. Read full article at Dr. Bicuspid . . .
The big take-away from this article is that people are able to make this big change if they get the support of their dentist or family physician–either with prescription medications or cessation counseling or both! While you may be excited to get approval for dental implants, ask your dentist to be candid about how your future habits will affect these restorations.