Why Smoking and Dental Implants Are a Bad Combination

Posted on: 20 January 2020

Smoking is bad for your health, which is hardly a shock. It affects your overall body, but it can also directly affect the point of entry, namely where it's inhaled (which is your mouth). This is very bad news when you need to maintain the most hospitable condition inside your mouth to ensure the best chance of success for a dental implant. Smoking and dental implants simply don't go well together. But what are the potential complications when a smoker needs a dental implant, and how can you overcome them?

Potential Complications

The inhalation of smoke over the site of a newly installed dental implant can increase the likelihood of a condition known as peri-implantitis, which is inflammation of the tissues surrounding the implant. This can lead to a serious infection and can inhibit osseointegration, which is the process of your jawbone and corresponding tissues fusing to the implant's titanium bolt. This can result in implant failure. The toxicity of the inhaled carbon monoxide will also affect the site's ability to heal. So, what can you do about this?

Certain Precautions

Giving up smoking is your best defense against implant failure, but this is hardly going to be so straightforward for a long-term smoker. You should tell your dentist that you are a smoker during your initial consultation about whether you are a good candidate for dental implants so that certain precautions can be suggested. What might these precautions involve?

  1. Your dentist will undoubtedly suggest that you quit smoking well before the implant procedure, and you might find it helpful to taper off smoking in the weeks before the appointment in order to wean yourself off nicotine. 
  2. If you opt to go cold turkey immediately prior to the implant procedure, you might need some assistance. This can involve a nicotine patch or a nicotine inhaler.
  3. Vaping can be an effective substitute for cigarettes without the smoke, but be sure to tell your dentist about your intention to switch your method for nicotine intake. 

Once the site has healed and osseointegration has been successful, you can generally resume smoking, although you might wish to take this opportunity to quit for good. 

Although dental implants are a straightforward medical procedure, they're still a medical procedure, and given the healing time and financial cost, you will want to do everything within your power to make sure that the implant is successful. And this definitely includes saying goodbye to smoking, whether permanently or temporarily.