When you undergo surgery for any reason, some risk factors can be particularly dangerous to your health and the ultimate success of your treatment. Smoking and tobacco use is one such factor that should always be avoided as much as possible, but this is particularly true of oral surgery.When patients have dental implants installed, for instance, both the surgery itself and the recovery process require gum and underlying bone tissue to be as healthy as possible. Abstinence from smoking is therefore a necessity for at least part of the dental implant treatment process in order to avoid dental implant failure. To fully understand how smoking can negatively affect the results of your implants, see the information provided below by our Fort Worth dental practice.
What Is Implant Failure?
The reason dental implants are so effective is because, like the roots of real teeth, they integrate naturally into gum and bone tissue. This provides implants with strength and stability, and allows them to feel and function just like a normal tooth would. This also means that an implant must take time to heal with surrounding bone tissues in a process called osseointegration. During osseointegration, it is vital that the mouth and jaw are healthy and free of disease. If any disease or infection does form, it can impede the healing process and prevent the implant from properly integrating into the mouth. This dental implant failure is referred to as peri-implantitis, and it poses a risk not just to your new implants, but also to your dental health in general.
Smoking and Peri-Implantitis
The reasons that smoking is bad for one’s dental health are essentially the same reasons why it can cause implant failure. Namely, smoking lowers the effectiveness of one’s immune system and promotes the spread of gum disease. Either or both of these risks are primary reasons for peri-implantitis.
After oral surgery, there is a low risk of infection that can usually be avoided through proper rest and post-operative care. When caught early, inflammation or infection may not even result in implant failure, as patients can quickly combat it through antibiotics and professional care. Both the risk and severity of infection are elevated, however, when patients smoke throughout the treatment process. Even if infection is detected and treated, any prescribed antibiotics will likely have a reduced effect due to tobacco use.
Gum disease poses a similar risk to dental implants that is elevated through smoking. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an inflammation of the gums that normally results in a receding gum line, loose or tender gums, pockets of infection, and increasingly exposed teeth. When gum tissue also needs to heal around an implant, the presence of disease can prevent healing and, if not treated, continue to spread through soft and hard tissues. If gum disease also infects bone tissue, it progresses into periodontitis, which can result in gradual bone loss and eventual tooth loss. Needless to say, any degree of gum disease is a significant risk to the success of dental implants.
Instructions for Smoking Cessation
When you meet with your dentist to discuss any upcoming implant surgery, you will be given instructions regarding when to stop smoking. In many cases, patients are instructed to stop smoking completely for at least one week prior to surgery and for at least a month following surgery. Some patients may be asked to begin cessation as long as one month in advance, continuing throughout the rest of their recovery. Of course, the more one abstains from tobacco, the better his or her chances of success will be, and recovery will be made easier and shorter overall.
Speak with Dr. Steve Brown
The best way to increase your success is to consult a dentist with a wealth of knowledge and experience with dental implants. Dr. Steve Brown, founder and lead practitioner of The Dental Implant Place, is happy to meet with you to discuss your dental goals and help you on the path to a full, healthy smile. Schedule a consultation to learn more about the benefits of implant dentistry.