It should come as little surprise that smoking is associated with a wide range of health issues. Lung disease, cancer, heart disease, and a general increased risk of infection are all connected to smoking.
The health concerns connected to smoking also mean that it can interfere with dental implants. Dental implants are the most susceptible to the negative side effects of smoking in the first few months after surgery. This is the crucial healing time. However, smoking also has lots of longer term health consequences that can still lead to problems with dental implants later on – even if they seemed to be successful at the beginning.
Some of the problems for dental implants that smoking can cause are:
Smoking can cause inflammation in the tissues of the mouth. Inflamed tissue around implants is called peri-implantitis. This condition can lead to implant failure and the implants falling out.
- Poor blood circulation
Smoking reduces blood flow to the gums and other oral tissues. Good circulation is especially important during the healing time, because the tissues require adequate blood supply to re-grow and bond with the implant.
- Bacterial growth
Lots of different types of bacteria naturally live in our mouths and digestive system. Some types are harmless. Some actually help our health and aid digestion. However, some types of bacteria are harmful. Smoking increases the harmful kinds of bacteria that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
- Vulnerable to infection
Smoking impairs the body’s ability to fight infections. Right after surgery, the mouth is already vulnerable to infection, so smoking compounds this risk. An infection at this time could compromise the success of the entire implant.
- Weaker bones
Over time, smoking can lead to weaker bones, including the jaw bones. Since dental implants attach to the jaw bone, a history of smoking can make it harder for implants to successfully bond with the bone. That is why your dentist may recommend that you quit smoking well before your surgery instead of only after the surgery. This will give your bones a little time to recover lost density.
Smoking at any time can interfere with the success of dental implants, but the above concerns makes it very important not to smoke during the months right before and after your surgery. Studies have shown that implants were more likely to fail in smokers than non-smokers.