Smoking and Dental Implants
Can You Get Dental Implants if You Smoke?
Yes. Yes, you can get dental implants if you smoke. But not everyone who smokes can get dental implants. At your initial consultation, Dr. Sean or Dr. Klein will decide if you are a candidate for implants. With an exam and X-rays, our doctors will determine the health of your gums and the strength of your jaw bone. It doesn’t matter what you smoke – cigarettes, marijuana, vape – one isn’t necessarily better than another. It’s important you understand that by smoking you are increasing the likelihood of complications and implant failure.
As a smoker you’ll have to pay closer attention to your implant maintenance. But, in doing so, along with the support of your dental team, you can have a smile that only 4M Dental Implants can provide you.
In the time of Christopher Columbus, tobacco was hailed as a medicinal plant, used often to stave off hunger over long working hours. We now know better.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Heart Disease
- Blindness, Cataracts, and Age-Related Macular Degeneration
There’s just no nice way to put this – nothing good comes from smoking in regard to your implants. But we understand quitting isn’t an easy thing to do. So if you are going to continue to smoke, it’s important to understand how it will affect you, your dental implants, and how best to care for them.
Smoking can adversely affect the success of your implants and permanent damage to your tissues may be present even after quitting, but this doesn’t prevent you from being a candidate for this specialized procedure. Certain measures can be taken to improve your chances of success – bone grafting, extended healing periods, conservative surgical approach, and kicking the habit.
How Long Should I Wait to Smoke After Dental Implant Surgery?
As with any surgery, there are post op guidelines you’re expected to follow to give yourself the best chance at healing quickly and without complication, such as a temporary soft food diet, limited physical activity, and a pause in your smoking habits.
Refraining from smoking cigarettes, marijuana, or vaping for as long as possible – both before and after surgery – is recommended. But if you’re counting the seconds until your next smoke, ceasing two weeks prior is suggested. Following surgery, waiting 2 to 3 months should allow enough time for osseointegration.
In the days after surgery, your body is making blood clots – which prevent bleeding, cover underlying bone and nerves, and protect food debris and bacteria from getting into the site. When blood clots are prematurely removed you can develop “dry socket,” which can become quite a painful condition.
Inhaling, drinking from a straw, and spitting all create forces within the mouth strong enough to loosen and remove blood clots. The first 72 hours are when you are especially susceptible to dry socket.
It may seem counterintuitive, but do not use a straw post surgery. Instead, stick to water and ask your doctor when he/she thinks it’s safe to start enjoying other beverages using a straw. Salt water rinses or antibiotic mouthwashes are often prescribed. If using one of these, do not spit the liquid out, simply lean over a sink, open your mouth, and let it fall out. In addition, smoking’s suction action is hard on blood clots and risks a slower and possibly unnecessarily painful recovery.
Cigarettes and Dental Implants
How Do Cigarettes Affect Dental Implants?
Inhaled cigarette smoke is hottest and most concentrated as it comes into contact with the inside of your mouth, effectively burning your oral tissues. Over time your mouth will produce keratoses – white scaly patches – that can damage or block salivary glands, resulting in dry mouth. Saliva is needed to “wash away” plaque and acids left in your mouth by bacteria, which otherwise can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Though your prosthetic (new teeth) is unharmed by this directly, the surrounding tissue can be affected – harming the gums and bone supporting your implants.
Nicotine – regardless of how it’s introduced into the body – is a significant factor in implant complication and failure. Nicotine constricts the superficial (peripheral) blood vessels in the mouth and skin and everywhere else. This restricts blood flow and oxygen to your oral tissues and bones, where it’s needed most for healing. Not only is healing slowed down, but immune defenses are also lowered.
Tobacco negatively affects postoperative healing for almost all surgeries performed in the oral cavity. Tobacco, along with all its byproducts, is a peripheral vasoconstrictor, which means it constricts blood flow to the smaller blood vessels and raises blood pressure. It causes increased platelet adhesiveness, which, combined with constricted blood vessels, heightens the risk of these smaller blood vessels completely closing off. Without adequate blood flow and oxygen, your body cannot heal, suppression of the immune system leaves you more susceptible to infection and, maybe most importantly, osseointegration may not happen.
Osseointegration is the fusing together of bone and implant. Success of this step is fundamental to the success of your implant surgery. The failure rate of osseointegration among smokers is considerably higher than that of nonsmokers. Clinical trials consistently rate smoking as a primary patient-centered risk factor for implant loss.
Do Dental Implants Stain?
Dental implants are impervious to cavities and you’ll never need a root canal again, but, like natural teeth, they can stain.
Brushing your teeth after eating and drinking – along with regular cleanings – works great for keeping stains at bay. However, there are certain foods, drinks, and habits that make stains harder to manage even with good oral hygiene: coffee, red sauces, berries, wine, and, you guessed it, smoking.
Implant crowns and prosthetics cannot be bleached like natural teeth. They can be polished by your hygienist and, with meticulous at-home hygiene, you should be able to keep them in good shape.
Marijuana and Dental Implants
Imagine you just had knee surgery. Would you unwrap the sterile bandages from your knee, take a hit, and blow marijuana smoke directly onto your freshly sewn incision? Keeping a new surgical site clean is essential for proper healing. Our mouths are already full of bacteria from everyday eating, drinking, and breathing the air around us. The more we add to that, the more difficult we make it for our bodies to mend.
The point is, regardless of whether marijuana smoke, or vape, or cigarette smoke is “better,” you’re introducing dirty, foreign matter into your mouth and onto a sensitive area. But in order to heal, you need to take it easy. Why make it more difficult?
If you smoke marijuana you’re well acquainted with “cotton mouth.” Cannabis decreases salivary flow, which encourages tooth decay. Some amount of bacteria is always present in your mouth. When you eat a piece of food, residue is left behind, and it’s this residue that bacteria eat. This is why it’s important to brush your teeth! The byproduct left by bacteria is an acid that promotes decay, which saliva helps to wash away. With an overly dry mouth, this acid sits on your teeth and becomes decay.
Separate from the smoke issue, the act of inhaling creates a vacuum – a suction – which can prematurely remove necessary blood clots. The purpose of a blood clot is like that of a scab. It helps your body stop bleeding and protects exposed, unhealed areas. Like a scab, if you pick at it, it remains painful and takes longer to heal. Smoking a cigarette, hitting a bong or vape pen, sucking a straw, and spitting can all dislodge blood clots. When this happens, you can end up with dry socket. Dry socket (alveolar osteitis) is a condition that occurs in either the upper jaw (maxilla) or lower jaw (mandible), but is most common in the mandible and can be painful. The pain comes primarily from exposed bone and nerves coming into contact with food, drink, etc.
Salt water rinses or antibacterial mouthwashes can help keep bacteria at bay during the first few days following oral surgery. Remember, the act of spitting can create a force strong enough to remove blood clots, so, rather than spitting, lean over your sink and let the liquid fall from your mouth.
If you suspect you’ve developed dry socket, you should contact your dentist right away to have it treated.
Vaping, E-Cigarettes and Dental Implants
Vaping and e-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes) are relatively new. Until definitive guidelines exist, as health care professionals it’s wise to remain cautious about the chemical effects on the body. What we do know is that, when vaping or smoking an e-cigarette, the aerosols and smoke are at their hottest and most concentrated, burning the tissue inside your mouth. Mouth and throat dryness and irritation are commonly reported side effects of e-cigarette use. The burning and the dryness don’t help the healing process and create an environment that encourages tooth decay.
The chemicals found in burnt tobacco smoke are also found in e-cigarettes, but at significantly lower levels. If you’re a person who can’t stop smoking – or doesn’t want to stop – switching to e-cigarettes could be effective in reducing the harm caused by traditional cigarettes.
The Patch and Dental Implants
A quick word on the patch. We do not endorse using the patch, but if you absolutely cannot put off smoking, the patch might be an okay alternative to a cigarette. At the very least, you’re avoiding the smoke and tobacco aspects, which is better than nothing, but remember what nicotine does to your body and how it affects you while you’re healing. The patch isn’t harmless. It still puts nicotine into your blood stream.
How to Take Care of Your Dental Implants When You Smoke
How To Quit Smoking
Obviously, the best thing you can do for your implants and your overall health is to quit smoking entirely. Quitting is a hard thing to do, but the benefits are countless and you don’t have to do it alone. There is a lot of help out there if you need it. Interested? Let us help you get started. Below are a few websites with tips for quitting smoking. Good luck! You can do it!