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Why Smokers Have A Harder Time Getting And Keeping Dental Implants

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If you are missing some teeth and are considering replacing them, you may be thinking about getting dental implants. Dental implants are the number one product for tooth replacement; however, if you smoke, you may want to think twice before going through with this. Smoking may not only affect your eligibility for getting dental implants, but it can also affect the ability of your body to keep them.

Why Is Smoking A Factor When Getting Dental Implants?

Before you can get dental implants, a dentist will have to evaluate your health to determine if you are a good candidate or not. This will involve taking x-rays and physically examining your mouth, and it will also involve answering a series of questions. One of these questions will be about smoking. If you are currently a smoker, the dentist may tell you that you cannot get dental implants.

When a person smokes, it makes it harder for a dentist to insert a dental implant and have it stay. This occurs for several reasons, including:

  • Smokers have a high risk of developing gum disease – People that smoke can develop gum disease easier than people that do not, and this occurs because smoking damages the teeth and gums. Smoking prohibits normal blood flow throughout your body, and this causes a decrease in oxygen to your gums. Because of this, your gums are not able to fight off disease as quickly as they should be.
  • Gum disease causes a loss of bone mass – Because smokers have a higher risk of developing gum disease, they also have a higher chance of losing bone mass in their jaws. A dentist cannot insert an implant if there is not enough jawbone present. While the dentist could perform a bone graft, the graft might not take because of the condition of the gums.
  • Infections are more likely – In addition, if you smoke, you have a higher chance of developing an infection after an implant is placed in your mouth. This happens because your body cannot fight infections and bacteria very well, and an infection with a dental implant can lead to failure. Smoking also makes it harder for a person to heal after a procedure. This creates a longer time span for an infection to form.
  • The osseointegration process does not occur fast enough – When a dentist places the implant in a person's jaw, a process called osseointegration should occur. This refers to the person's bone fusing with the titanium implant. Because of the other reasons listed here, this process does not always happen like it should. This can lead to a loose or weak implant.

If you smoke and want dental implants, it might be wise to stop smoking for a few months before you get them.

How Does Smoking Affect The Outcome Of Dental Implants?

According to a study on this subject, people that smoke had a much higher chance of having a dental implant fail compared to people that do not smoke. In this study, 16% of smokers that got dental implants experienced failures of the implants, whereas only 1.4% of nonsmokers experienced dental implant failure.

One dental implant can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000, on average. If you are planning on spending this much money to replace one tooth, it might be wise for you to consider quitting smoking before you go through with it. Your chances of having a successful implant will be much higher if you stop this habit before you get the implant.

While there are times when smokers are able to get and keep their implants for many years, there are also times when this is not the case. If you smoke and want to replace your missing teeth, contact a dentist, like Bruce Mathes DDS, that offers dental implants and other forms of tooth-replacement services to find out what option is best for you.