Will Smoking Harm Your New Dental Implants?

Smoking has long been known to damage your gums and teeth, but what does that mean for your new dental implants? You might initially believe that a false tooth should not be affected at all by smoking, but the truth is somewhat more complicated. In fact, smoking has been shown to significantly increase the likelihood of an implant failing prematurely. These are three ways smoking cigarettes can impact your dental implants, as well as what you can do to protect and preserve them.

Damaging Your Gums

Dental implants may not be real, living teeth, but part of their appeal is their ability to integrate with your gum tissue. This is accomplished through a process known as osseointegration, where the titanium of the implant's post is accepted by your body, encouraging a sustained flow of blood and nutrients to your jaw. Smoking, however, is heavily linked to gum disease, decreasing the efficiency of those tissues. This can lead to slower healing of your surgical site and less structural support for the implant.

Speeding up Bone Loss

Like natural teeth, your implants need a strong jawbone to anchor them in place for chewing and speaking. Studies have shown that the more you smoke per day, the worse the condition of your jawbones, which can cause issues with both implants and your real teeth, and the difference is particularly pronounced during the healing process. If you require a bone graft before your implant is installed, your oral surgeon may only agree to do so on the condition that you quit smoking for several months following the procedure.

Increasing Your Risk for Infection

Gum disease can severely inhibit the delivery of vital oxygen and nutrients needed to help a surgical site recover quickly, and this delayed response can leave you vulnerable to infection. Bacterial infections can sabotage osseointegration, causing the implant to fail and forcing you to undergo another round or two of surgery to try again. 

Protecting Your New Dental Implants

Rather than putting yourself through the hassle, pain and expense of a failed dental implant, it might be wiser to simply stop smoking, even if it is only for a few months after your surgery. Doing so will give your mouth the time it needs to accept its new teeth, and it may even improve your overall dental health as well. If you are planning to receive dental implants but are concerned about the risks of smoking with them, talk to your implant specialist, like Gallery Dental, for an assessment of your current periodontal health as well as a professional evaluation of your chances for implant success or failure on your current smoking regimen.