It is no surprise to learn that smoking is bad for your health. You may know about its detrimental effects on your lungs and heart, but did you know that a nicotine habit is a major threat to your oral health too. While bad breath and yellow teeth are certainly consequences of smoking, it can also disqualify you from getting dental implants – unless you’re willing to stop.
Dental implants represent the gold standard solution in replacing missing teeth. They require the surgical placement of a titanium post that is inserted into the jaw bone. The success of a dental implant is largely based on the implant’s ability to heal and naturally fuse to the surrounding bone over time. This provides a strong and secure base for an implant restoration, such as a crown, bridge or overdenture.
To understand why smoking and a successful dental implant just can’t exist together, we must go back to the importance of healing after implant surgery. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, which means that when you light up, you are restricting proper blood flow to all parts of your body, including your oral tissues and gums. Without adequate blood flow, your body has a hard time healing and repairing itself and your immune system may also be compromised. Therefore, this is a primary reason why patients must quit smoking before they undergo dental implant surgery and for a period of time afterwards. If the implant doesn’t heal properly, it does not form a stable “tooth root” and there is a high risk for dental implant failure.
Smoking can also mask the symptoms of gum disease. If gingivitis or more advanced stages of gum disease are present at the time you are seeking dental implants, you’ll have to put your tooth replacement on hold until your periodontal health is restored. Not only is it important to rid the mouth of infection before undergoing surgery, but untreated gum disease can eventually destroy the underlying bone. Without sufficient jaw bone density and height, a dental implant cannot be placed.
Dental implants are undoubtedly the best option to replace a missing tooth. However, they require a notable investment. If you smoke cigarettes, don’t jeopardize your restorative dentistry dollars by not kicking your habit before surgery. At Mitzi Morris, DMD, we want every patient to have the best chance of success in implants dentistry. Therefore, we are happy to work with you to help you find ways to overcome your nicotine addiction.