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How Might Smoking Affect Dental Implant Success?

Dental Implant  Windham NHOne of the questions that we ask ourselves when developing a course of treatment for any given situation is “how can we maximize patient outcome?” You see, patient outcome – achieving a result that will provide long-term benefit to the patient – is a measure of successful dental treatment. It is a measure of value for the patient. When we set out to prevent or repair a problem, this is at the forefront of our mind. It is for this reason that we must discuss the impact that smoking can have on the final outcome of dental implant treatment.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implant treatment is the new age of tooth replacement. We learned long ago that teeth, even replacement teeth, need roots in order to function properly. It has only been in the last few decades that the method to facilitate this was perfected. Now, dental implants are more routine than an upgraded form of dentistry.

Dental implants are small titanium cylinders that are used to replicate the structure of natural teeth roots. When these cylinders are implanted into the jaw, they set off the process of osseointegration; bone tissue literally grows around them. What this does is lay a new foundation on which artificial teeth can be secured.

Dental Implants and the Smoker

Because it is difficult to predict the possibility for long-term success when implant treatment is performed on a smoker, some dentists refuse to follow this protocol unless a patient stops smoking. Here’s why . . .

  • Bone growth may not occur as well in a smoker due to the lack of proper circulation. This could inhibit the integration of implants, even when bone grafting is conducted prior to implant surgery.
  • Oral tissues are directly damaged by the heat of smoke inhaled, inhibiting the regeneration of new cells needed to support dental implants.
  • Both healing and immunity are degraded by the toxic ingredients in cigarettes and the effects of these chemicals on peripheral blood vessels.
  • Salivary glands sustain damage from the inhalation of cigarette smoke (as well as other sources of smoke). This downgrades production, which leads to dry mouth, which increases the risk of gum disease. Where there is gum disease, there is a threat to the stability of dental implants.

Dental implant treatment has been around long enough for studies to take place. Studies on the effects of smoking suggest that smokers have twice the risk of non-smokers for implant failure.

Dentures and dental bridges are tooth replacement treatments that provide meaningful improvement after tooth loss. However, dental implants are considered the best option in most cases. To learn more about options for tooth replacement, contact our Methuen or Windham office.