Dental Implants And Smoking – Why It’s A Risky Business

Feb 14, 2024
woman smoking a cigarette
Many people looking to replace missing teeth have concerns about dental implants and smoking and wonder whether their habit prevents them from having the procedure. This article explains the risks, options, and failure rates.

Many people wonder whether getting dental implants will affect their daily habits and have particular concerns about smoking. Questions we’re frequently asked include: “Can I still get dental implants if I smoke?”, “Can I smoke after getting dental implants?” and “Does smoking make it more likely for implants to fail?”

This post examines the relationship between dental implants and smoking and answers all of the questions above. It also provides tips for lowering the risk of implant failure if you are a smoker. So, getting straight to the crux of the matter ….

Are dental implants a possibility for smokers?

The short answer is yes, smokers will be considered for dental implants. However, there are vital factors to consider. Research has shown that smoking increases the risk of implant failure. A systematic review concluded there was a 140.2% higher risk of implant failure in smokers compared to non-smokers.

However, smoking doesn’t just affect dental implants, it also harms oral health, which in turn affects an individual’s suitability for implant treatment.

How does smoking affect oral health?

Smoking cigarettes is detrimental to oral health, negatively impacting the mouth and teeth, leading to various issues, including:

  • Periodontal disease: Smoking ranks among the primary causes of periodontal disease, a bacterial infection affecting the gums and supporting bone structure. It leads to redness, swelling, bleeding, and potential tooth loss. Smoking weakens the immune system, hampering the body's ability to combat infections, including gum disease.
  • Bad breath: Smoking also contributes to bad breath, known as halitosis, by fostering bacterial and plaque buildup in the mouth. This condition can be embarrassing and diminish a person's self-confidence.
  • Tooth discoloration: Smoking causes yellow or brown stains on teeth that resist removal through regular brushing or professional cleanings.
  • Oral cancer: Furthermore, smoking cigarettes poses a significant risk factor for oral cancer, which may affect the mouth, throat, or lips. If not detected early, oral cancer can lead to life-threatening consequences.
  • Delayed recovery: Smoking slows down the healing process following dental treatments like tooth extraction gum surgery or implant placement. This slowdown increases the likelihood of complications and infections.

People who smoke should know about these bad effects and try to lower their risk. The best way to stop more harm to your mouth is to quit smoking.

It's also important to keep your mouth clean by brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing every day, and seeing your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. Doing these things can help stop gum disease, tooth stains, bad breath, and other problems caused by smoking.

How smoking affects dental implants

Dental implants and smoking do not work well together. When a person smokes and receives dental implants, it can lead to problems such as:

Slower healing

Smoking can slow down the healing process after getting a dental implant. This means it may take longer for your mouth to recover, and the implant might not join properly with the jawbone. It also raises the chance of implant problems like infections.

Higher chance of implant problems

Smoking makes it more likely for dental implants to fail. The chemicals in cigarettes weaken bones and make it harder for the implant to fuse to the bone. Smoking can also raise the risk of infections, which can cause implants to fail if not treated quickly.

Vulnerability to infections

Smokers have a higher risk of infections. Chemicals like nicotine in cigarettes weaken the body's ability to fight off infections. This raises the chances of implant problems or needing more surgeries.

Greater risk of Peri-Implantitis

Peri-implantitis happens when the tissue around the implant gets infected and swollen. Smoking increases the risk of this condition, which can lead to implant failure and more surgeries. Smokers also have a higher chance of getting gum disease, which can cause gum recession and bone loss, causing the implant to loosen and eventually fall out.

Implant failure

One of the biggest worries is that smoking raises the chances of implant failure. The reduced blood flow, higher vulnerability to infections, and weaker bones altogether make it more likely for the implant not to integrate correctly.

A study discovered that individuals who smoked more than 10 cigarettes daily had a higher rate of implant failure compared to those smoking less than 10 cigarettes daily. Even the group of lighter smokers still faced a greater risk of implant failure compared to non-smokers.

Suggestions for Quitting Smoking

Smoking cigarettes can harm dental implants and raise the risk of early implant failure. Giving up smoking is crucial for enhancing the success of dental implant placement. Here are some tips to help patients quit smoking:

  • Join a support group: Being part of a support group connects patients with others who are also trying to quit smoking. This support network offers motivation, encouragement and accountability, even after dental implant surgery.
  • Try nicotine replacement therapy: Nicotine replacement therapy like patches, gum, or lozenges can ease cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms. Patients should consult their healthcare provider or implant dentist before starting any nicotine replacement therapy.
  • Seek professional help: Healthcare providers can offer resources and support to aid patients in quitting smoking. This might involve counseling, medication, or a combination of both.
  • Avoid triggers: Triggers such as stress, alcohol, or being around other smokers can make quitting smoking harder. Patients should steer clear of triggers and find healthy ways to manage stress, which can boost their chances of success.
  • Set a quit date: Setting a quit date establishes a clear goal and helps patients stay focused. Choose a date that allows enough time to prepare and gather support.

Discover if dental implants are right for you

Before undergoing dental implant treatment, individuals who smoke need to commit to quitting both before the treatment and throughout the recovery phase. If stopping smoking for the required duration proves challenging, exploring alternative tooth replacement options might be worth considering.

For residents in Chesterfield contemplating dental implants, reach out to our experienced dentists today. With our extensive knowledge in implant dentistry, we will assist you in identifying the most suitable tooth replacement option for your needs. Why not schedule a free dental implant consultation today?