Dental implants and smoking

Can Smokers Get Dental Implants? How Does Smoking Affect Dental Implants? What Risk Does Smoking Pose After Implants Are Placed?

These are the most frequently asked questions when addressing implantology in patients who are regular tobacco users because, indeed, it is a factor that could jeopardize the success of the treatment.


How Does Smoking Affect Oral Health in General?

Oral health can be affected by many factors, which can be internal, even hereditary, or external. Among the latter, we find tobacco, which is one of the most harmful habits. There are numerous studies demonstrating that cigarette smoking has a particular impact on the lateral posterior area of the tongue and the floor of the mouth.

Moreover, it is directly related to malignant lesions of the oral mucosa, and needless to say, it is one of the most significant factors in the onset of oral cancer.

Tobacco can also be a risk factor for the onset of periodontitis, affecting gum health and negatively affecting the response to periodontal therapy, whether surgical or not.

Other possible negative consequences of smoking include peri-implant mucositis and peri-implantitis, conditions we will discuss later, which are related to dental implants.


Dental Implants and Smoking: Can I Get Implants If I Smoke?

The answer is yes, but with nuances. Being a smoker does not necessarily mean that dental implants cannot be placed or that, as commonly said, the body will reject them (something that occurs in very few cases and can happen whether the patient smokes or not).

The patient should have optimal gingival health, and if necessary, should undergo periodontal treatment before getting implants to ensure that their gums are healthy and free of any infection.

In any case, it will always be advisable for the person undergoing implant treatment to quit smoking for several weeks before the intervention and also for some time after the placement of the implanted pieces. These are the main reasons:

  • Slower Healing: Smoking slows down the healing process as it reduces blood flow, so if the patient is a smoker, the wound resulting from the surgical intervention in implant treatment will take much longer to heal.
  • Oral Infections: Smoking reduces the body’s defensive capacity. Therefore, if it is necessary to extract a damaged natural tooth for implant placement, it is usual to wait several weeks after the extraction, during which the gum is highly susceptible to infections. Smoking could cause complications in the entire process if the soft gum tissues suffer an infection.
  • Impairs Implant Integration: The success of dental implants depends largely on their perfect union with the mouth through a process by which the implanted piece adheres to the bone, a process known as osseointegration.

Why Is It Important Not to Smoke After Implant Placement?

As we mentioned, the success of implant treatments depends on osseointegration, i.e., the effective union of the implanted piece with the bone on which it is placed. This process ensures a firm and long-lasting union, allowing the implant to last almost a lifetime.

Once the implants are placed, it is crucial to control and prevent any type of infection. One of the risks of possible treatment failure in implantology is bacterial contamination from the implants themselves if the patient does not maintain adequate oral hygiene, overloading on the pieces that hinder the osseointegration process, and especially smoking.

The harmful elements derived from cigarette smoking are, in fact, the main factors causing failed implant treatment.

Smoking after implant placement alters the characteristics of the soft tissues of the mouth, and nicotine inhibits bone healing, making bacteria adhere more easily to epithelial cells.

Moreover, some of the most significant pathologies that may occur after implant treatment and are more likely to occur if tobacco is consumed are peri-implant mucositis and peri-implantitis, which we will discuss below.


Peri-Implant Mucositis and Peri-Implantitis: Is Smoking a Risk Factor?

Peri-implant mucositis is a condition that causes inflammation of the soft tissues and the mucosa surrounding the dental implant. In any case, it is an oral complication that can be reversed if treated properly.

Peri-implantitis, on the other hand, affects not only the soft tissues but also the bone supporting the implant. In some cases, it can lead to problems with gum recession, exposing part of the implant, which becomes more susceptible to external aggressions and accumulates bacteria and food debris that can cause infections.

Peri-implantitis progresses gradually and affects the bone mass supporting the implanted piece, so it can compromise implant treatment and cause unwanted implant mobility or even loss.

That’s why it is recommended to undergo thorough monitoring and attend follow-up appointments after implant treatment, as it will be easier to avoid these complications.

Several factors contribute to these two pathologies, although tobacco is one of the most important. In fact, numerous studies claim that the highest failure rate in implant treatments in smokers is not so much related to healing or osseointegration failures as it is to the fact that tobacco makes peri-implant tissues more susceptible to irreversible or very difficult-to-heal damage.


Consult Professionals

As you can see, there is a profound relationship between dental implants and tobacco, as all the processes that take place during implant treatment will determine its success.

The failure rate of dental implants in the medium and long term is considerably higher in smokers than in non-smokers, which is why it will always be advisable to quit or at least reduce smoking.

Do you want to know more about how smoking and implantology are related? You can listen to the latest episode of the San Andrés 90 podcast, where Dr. Liñares talks about implantology treatments in smokers, available on platforms like iVoox or Spotify.

If you want to visit the Antonio Liñares Clinic for a consultation, we will be happy to assist you.

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