There are many options for replacing missing teeth, but dental implants are usually the best choice. At the Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, our dentists provide lifelike restorations for dental implants. Unlike dentures or partials, dental implants won’t slip around in your mouth, and the types of foods you can eat are not limited. Also, dental implants are anchored in your jawbone just like natural tooth roots, which helps you retain bone. But, if you are a smoker, there is another reason to kick the habit—smoking increases the risk of dental implant failure. Below are four factors to consider.
- Nicotine Constricts Blood Vessels
Any nicotine product can be damaging. This includes cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and even vaping, simply because it causes your blood vessels to constrict. In some cases, the smaller blood vessels can become completely cut off. Ultimately, this reduces blood flow and oxygen to your oral tissues and interferes with the healing process.
- Reduced Blood Flow Can Prevent Osseointegration
Dental implants are surgically placed in your jawbone. Under normal circumstances, the bone responds by healing or fusing itself to the restoration. This is known as osseointegration, and it takes several months to complete. Once the bone and implant are fused together, the bond is incredibly strong. However, smoking inhibits adequate blood flow to the area, healing is slower, and the dental implant can fail.
- Nicotine Can Mask Symptoms of Gum Disease
A key indicator of early gum disease is bleeding when you brush and floss. Plaque and bacteria can irritate and inflame gum tissue. Nicotine constricts the blood vessels and can mask the symptoms of gum disease. Early gum disease, or gingivitis, can advance into periodontal disease. As a result, gum tissue pulls away from the tooth, creating pockets where localized infections can occur. If constricted blood vessels make the problem difficult to detect, it’s harder to treat it. And if you’re struggling with localized infections, your new dental implant will likely fail.
- Tobacco Products Suppress Your Immune System
Although the details are not fully understood, the scientific community agrees that smoking suppresses the immune system. If you smoke around the time of surgery, your risk of infection and dental implant failure increases.
What Are Your Options?
At the Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, our dentists partner with oral surgeons who will ensure your implants are placed in the optimal position. After the healing process, one of our cosmetic dentists will provide you with natural-looking crowns.
You have several options:
- Proceed with implant surgery – Some oral surgeons will still perform the procedure if you smoke, but you should be aware that smoking can cause your dental implant to fail. It may not integrate, or the area around the implant can become infected. In these cases, you will likely need to have the implant removed, allow the area to heal, and start the process over again.
- Stop smoking – Stop smoking at least a few weeks prior to your surgery. Abstain from nicotine-containing products for several months after the surgery to allow the implant site to heal.
- Explore temporary alternatives – If you need to have a tooth replaced right away but also need more time to quit smoking, consider receiving a partial denture or an alternative form of temporary tooth replacement.
- Explore permanent alternatives – While dental implants may be the best choice, they are not the only form of tooth replacement. Dentures, partials, or bridges can all be viable long-term solutions.
Schedule a Consultation
When you’re ready to move forward with replacing your missing teeth, one of our cosmetic dentists will explain your options for restoring your dental implants with natural-looking crowns. Alternatives can also be discussed. Contact our office to schedule a consultation.