Even with modern techniques and technology, receiving one or more dental implants can still be a stressful experience. If you are a smoker, odds are you will look to alleviate that stress with the help of cigarettes. However, that is not a great plan, as it can potentially cause the implant to fail, which means more surgery, stress, and discomfort.
If you are a smoker looking to replace a missing tooth with a dental implant, it is important to know this information and the why and how behind it because both your new smile and oral health are riding on it.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are a highly popular method of tooth replacement. They involve the fusion of a titanium post to the jawbone and the attachment of an abutment (a connector between the implant and a prosthetic designed to look like a natural tooth) to the titanium post.
Next, osseointegration occurs as the dental implant becomes a part of the gums and jawbone. Because of this process, dental implants offer an unmatched level of strength and bite power.
What Are the Risks of Smoking with a Dental Implant?
After receiving a dental implant, your oral surgeon and dentist will tell you to refrain from smoking. They do this for a variety of reasons, including the following:
Smoking can prolong dental implant recovery time because it lowers blood oxygen levels and weakens the immune system. This means that any attempts to alleviate the stress of recovery by smoking may only be extending that stress further.
While an elevated level of discomfort and the inability to go about your daily life are relatively short-lived aspects of your dental implant recovery, it can take about six months for your implant to fully fuse to your jawbone. This is something to keep in mind when deciding whether you want to potentially prolong recovery by smoking.
Higher Risk of Infection
Following your dental implant surgery, your mouth will have a few incisions that will need to heal. Open wounds are more susceptible to bacteria, and smoking increases the number of bacteria in your mouth, which results in a higher risk of infection.
While the infection risk is at its highest during recovery, it still remains higher throughout the lifespan of the implant for smokers than it does for nonsmokers.
Higher Risk for Peri-implantitis
Peri-implantitis is one form of infection you may incur by smoking with a dental implant. It is an infection of the gum tissue and bone surrounding the dental implant, resulting in the implant’s inability to heal and properly fuse. This can ultimately cause a failure of the implant altogether.
The Risks Do Not End with Recovery
It is crucial to remember that all of the risks of smoking with a dental implant remain after you fully recover. They are not quite as high as when your body is still healing, but they are still there. Choosing to smoke after your procedure may result in another surgery and recovery down the road.
Check out the Los Angeles Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery’s blog today to learn more about dental implants.