The Hidden Dangers Of Vaping With Dental Implants

May 05, 2023
Young woman vaping
While vaping may avoid some of the medical concerns associated with conventional cigarettes, there are hidden oral health dangers, particularly with regard to dental implants.

Smoking e-cigarettes (vaping) has become increasingly popular over recent years. A recent study in 2021 showed 4.5% of US adults were currently using e-cigarettes (vaping), and they were also the most commonly used product among youth.

E-cigarettes have commonly been marketed as a safer alternative to smoking conventional cigarettes. While this may be true regarding an individual’s general health, evidence suggests that vaping can harm oral health and negatively impact dental implants.

This post discusses the hidden dangers of vaping and dental implants. But first, let’s take a closer look at vaping and what it involves.

What are e-cigarettes exactly?

E-cigarettes come in a variety of shapes and designs. Some resemble regular cigarettes, whereas others look like USB sticks or pens. Most of them are battery-operated devices and contain a heating element and a chamber for holding liquid.

When an individual puffs on the mouthpiece, the heating element vaporizes the liquid in the chamber enabling the person to inhale it (vaping). Typically, e-liquids contain differing amounts of nicotine, chemicals and other flavourings.

Risks of vaping and dental implants

Dental implants are titanium posts placed into the jawbone to support replacement teeth (crowns), bridges or dentures. The success of dental implant surgery relies on osseointegration – a natural process whereby the bone fuses with the titanium implant to become a permanent feature in the mouth. Once osseointegration has successfully occurred, the dentist can attach a replacement tooth or teeth.

Traditionally, dentists have advised smokers to quit the habit before getting dental implants. Chemicals such as nicotine from tobacco products can slow healing, increasing the risk of implant failure.

Like smoking, vaping also challenges dental implant success by disrupting healing. Nicotine in many e-cigarettes can cause the blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to the gums and bone tissue surrounding dental implants. Reduced circulation can slow down implant healing and may prevent bone from properly growing around the implant.

In addition to affecting gingival blood flow, available literature suggests that nicotine affects the gingival fibroblasts that create connective tissue around the teeth. Weakening of the gingival fibroblasts reduces the body’s ability to provide new tissue to effectively support the implant. Furthermore, vaping can damage the osteoblasts (cells) responsible for bone regeneration, a vital function for dental implant success. Osteoblast growth can also be challenged by nicotine-free vapor.

But that’s not all.

Oral health threats

Vaping can also cause infection in the gums and oral tissues, which may lead to gum recession. When gum recession occurs, the tooth roots and the supporting tooth structures beneath the gums become exposed, meaning vapers are more susceptible to bacterial infection. Without treatment, the infection can spiral out of control, leading to a condition known as peri-implantitis. This disease is a leading cause of dental implant failure and may also result in bone loss around the implant.

Another adverse effect on oral health from vaping is dry mouth. This condition reduces the production of saliva, which acts as a natural mouthwash, neutralizing the acids in the mouth and protecting the teeth and gums. When saliva production is limited, excess bacteria remain in the mouth, leading to bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. These bacteria can also cause peri-implantitis which we’ve mentioned can cause the loss of your implant.

What is dental implant failure?

An implant fails when it causes severe pain or doesn’t attach correctly to the jawbone. The implant may fall out of its own accord, or the dentist may have to remove it. Since dental removal requires oral surgery, the procedure can cost between $500 and $1000, and you may have to pay for a new implant.

Although there is insufficient evidence to directly relate vaping and dental implants, most dentists would not support vaping as a safer alternative to smoking.

How can I care for dental implants if I vape?

You should avoid vaping for at least two months after dental implant surgery. By this time, bone healing should have reached the osteoblastic phase, and the early stages of osseointegration will have been established.

Of course, quitting smoking and vaping for good would be the ideal scenario, but in the event that you simply can’t quit altogether, be sure to maintain good oral hygiene with the following:

  1. Brushing your teeth twice daily for a minimum of two minutes.
  2. Daily flossing between the teeth and very gently around the implant. If you find string flossing difficult, you may consider switching to a water irrigator that is kinder for teeth and gums.
  3. Follow all dental instructions.
  4. Attend regular dental check-ups and cleans.

As you can see, both smoking and vaping are significant risk factors for dental implant failure. Most dentists will likely recommend you stop vaping before and after dental implant surgery. While vaping can be highly addictive, there are ways to quit for good. These include:

  • Distancing yourself from others who vape
  • Working with doctors and addiction specialists
  • Focussing on the health benefits of quitting

For more information about dental implants and to find out if they’re suitable for you, please don’t hesitate to contact the friendly, experienced team at Chesterfield Dentistry. We provide a variety of implants for all situations.

Call today at 314-936-3621 or book online.