If you think dental implants are out of the question if you’re a smoker, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn otherwise.
While smoking does pose additional risks for complications – both during the healing process and after recovery is complete – being a smoker doesn’t close the door on dental implant surgery.
That said, oral surgeons recommend that patients quit smoking before getting tooth implants. Here’s why.
What Happens if You Smoke on Dental Implant Surgery Day?
Smoking immediately after leaving the oral surgeon’s office – or soon thereafter – can have a profound effect on the recovery process.
During implant surgery, titanium tooth roots are placed within the jawbone. Over time, these posts fuse with the bone, a gradual process called osseointegration. Smoking slows down osseointegration, which leaves tooth implants less stable and secure for longer.
And, lighting up on implant surgery day and during the recovery period doesn’t just delay healing. Smoking also increases the risk of a painful infection – an oral surgery complication no one wants to experience.
What Happens if You Smoke After Your Dental Implants Are Healed?
Once you’re all healed up from implant surgery, you might be tempted to light up again. Resist the urge, however, as smoking at any point after tooth replacement boosts the likelihood of future complications like peri-implantitis, a painful infectious inflammatory condition. And, research shows that the risks may compound over time.
In addition, smokers experience a greater amount of jawbone degeneration as they age. Replacement teeth need a strong foundation of bone to remain secure – and since smoking can lead to significant bone loss in the jaw, the habit may increase the chance of implant failure down the line.
How to Minimize the Risks of Dental Implant Failure
As we mentioned, oral surgeons advise dental implant patients to quit smoking before scheduling tooth replacement. Give up cigarettes for good, and you’ll have the best chance at a lifetime of strong, problem-free replacement teeth.
However, smoking cessation programs don’t work for everyone – and not all patients with missing teeth are ready to quit completely. If you’re struggling, try to take a break from the cigarettes. At the very least, aim to stop smoking for the week before your implant surgery and to stay away from tobacco for the two weeks after your tooth replacement.
Smokers with tooth implants also need to be diligent about oral hygiene. Following the proper procedures – brushing twice each day, flossing between the teeth and using a therapeutic mouth rinse – is absolutely crucial. In addition, if you smoke, you should schedule regular cleanings and oral surgeon examinations.
Smoking may not prevent you from getting implant surgery, but it does complicate the process of tooth replacement. For that reason, smokers should seek out an experienced oral surgeon who specializes in dental implants – like the professionals at Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery.
Our highly-skilled, board-certified oral surgeons, Dr. Garrison and Dr. Kelly, have decades of experience treating patients in the central Indiana area. We understand the challenges of tooth replacement for smokers, and we can explain your treatment options. To meet with the Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery team, contact our Indianapolis office and schedule a dental implant consultation today.