You should already know that smoking is bad for your overall health. If you’ve been researching dental implants, you may also have noticed that smoking is one of the most common causes of implant failure. In fact, it’s relatively common for dentists who normally offer no-fee touch-ups in the event of a problem to withhold that offer if you smoke.
So, any smokers who are considering dental implants should think long and hard about quitting, and here’s why.
Smoking Damages Your Mouth
To understand why smoking is such a common cause of dental implant failure, you need to understand how inhaling tobacco smoke affects the mouth. Smoking can affect the mouth in several unpleasant ways, but two issues are particularly important when discussing dental implants:
- Keratosis: This refers to a general thickening of your skin cells. It’s common in smoker’s mouths because inhaling smoke slightly burns oral tissue. This blocks off and inhibits the proper functioning of the salivary glands, which in turn robs your mouth of a vital weapon in the battle against disease-causing bacteria.
- Blood Vessel Constriction: When your body takes in nicotine, the blood vessels constrict. This is why smokers suffer from an increased risk of hypertension. Because the blood vessels are constricted, healthy blood cannot be carried as effectively around the small blood vessels in your mouth.
Smoking Leads to Dental Implants
When you have a dental implant fitted, your dentist will be relying on a process known as osseointegration. This process occurs when a functional connection is established between the jawbone and the implant. If the titanium used in the implant doesn’t fuse with the jaw bone, the implant will fail.
If your mouth is unable to properly fight against bacteria, your immune system is less able to cope with the situation, making infection more likely. If blood vessels are constricted, proper healing cannot take place.
What Can You Do?
By far the most effective solution is to give up smoking entirely. If this is impossible, giving up smoking for a few weeks before and after the procedure can help, but you should still talk to your dentist to make sure this is the right option.