Smoking hazards on dental implants

If you are a smoker then you are more vulnerable to develop an infection after implant placement. Photo: Google Images

ENGLAND, March 17, 2013 - Dental Implants are the best solution to replace missing teeth.  While an excellent solution, the fixtures need care. Smoking has negative effects on the overall health, and can significantly damage teeth. 

An implant is a root which is made out of titanium. This root is used to support a dental restoration. It can be a singular tooth missing or set of teeth. All the missing teeth can be replaced permanently with an implant.

Prior to the surgery of a dental implant, the surgeon undertakes a brief study of the patient. The following things are studied for this surgery:

  • Inferior alveolar nerve (sinus)
  • The bone in which the implant has to be fixed

The patient might have to conduct the following tests:

  • Orthopantomographs
  • CT scan (in some cases)

Once the surgeon acquires details on how to fix the implant, the actual dental implant process begins. The area is numbed, the gum is moved out of the way and the dentist bores a hole inside the bone of the patient. This is done by hand or with the use of precision drills. Then a screw is placed into the hole. Later on, the tooth or teeth are fixed on the screw. This surgery takes place in several stages and sometimes it cannot be conducted in one sitting.

It takes approximately two to six months to heal after surgery. During an implant, a patient is expected to have normal blood circulation, to ensure gum recovery. The bone also needs oxygen during the recovery.

Every surgery has risks. With dental implant surgery, there are sometimes failures when it comes to integrating the dental implant to the bone. Patients can also dental condition known as peri–implantitis, which involves development of a deep mucosal pocket. This leads to inflammation around the area of implant.

When this dental condition happens, the bone is unable to accept the implant and the entire procedure fails. Even though peri–implantitis can occur with any dental patient, the chances are relatively high amongst those who smoke.

Smoking can also cause patients to develop several other complications during dental implants which would lead to its failure.

For example, smoking slows the healing process. Nicotine has a negative effect on flow of blood. It affects the bones and tissues which are surrounding to your gums and teeth.

If you are a chain–smoker, then you are more vulnerable to develop an infection after surgery. Even the process to recover from the infection slows down due to smoking. Smokers stand a greater risk to bone loss and periodontal disease surrounding the dental implants.

Medication to help the healing has limited effect on smokers. The potency of any antibiotics which are prescribed by the surgeon or dentist can fail. Smoking snatches the body’s ability to heal naturally. On top of that, it does not allow medication to work. By any chances if your open wound comes in direct contact with smoke, the dental implant will fail.

Smokers also are at a high risk for losing implants.

What is the solution?

Many dentists refuse to treat smokers with implants. Because of the negative repercussions on dental implants it would be advisable for the patient to stop smoking prior to their procedure. It is an undeniable fact that smokers have a hard time quitting. But at least for the procedure of implants they need to stay away from this habit.

Unless you are mentally prepared to quit smoking until you fully recover from implants treatment (which takes months), do not opt for the procedure.

It is advisable to quit smoking 1 week prior to surgery and till the time you are fully recovered from the surgery. Seek the help from family and friends to motivate you to stay smoke free. If possible join groups who help individual fight back the habit.


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Dr. Priya Patel

I’m Dr. Priya Patel with over 10 years of experience in the dental industry and dental principal of Village Dental Practice in Stevenage, UK.  I qualified from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Dental Hospital in 2002 from London. I involve patients in their own treatment and enjoy seeing the improvement in a patient as their treatment progresses.

I also teach dentists at the Royal College of Surgeons in London who are completing postgraduate studies as well as overseas dentists who are studying for their equivalency exams.

You can follow Dr. Patel on Twitter at @dentistmum

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