Asking questions about what you can and can’t do after dental implant surgery is a valuable and important part of preparing for your treatment. This is because the answers you are given can let you know what steps you need to take to make a smooth recovery and get the best result from your procedure. One of the most common questions that we are asked is ‘can I smoke after my dental implant surgery’.
While physically there is nothing to stop you from smoking after dental implant surgery, we cannot advise against it strongly enough. We all know that smoking is bad for our health and well-being. However, if there is one habit that could severely compromise your dental implants it would be smoking.
Why is smoking bad news for dental implants?
Smoking increases your risk of gum disease
By far the biggest threat to dental implants from smoking comes in the form of gum disease. Gum disease is a condition that is characterized by an infection in the soft tissue of the gums. This infection stems from bacterial growth in the dental plaque that forms in the pockets around your teeth when you fail to brush them properly. If plaque dries and hardens because it hasn’t been effectively removed, it forms something called tartar.
Studies have shown that smokers have far more tartar on their teeth than those people who do not smoke, and one of the main reasons for this is believed to be the decreased production of saliva that they experience. Saliva is our body’s natural defense against dental decay since it helps to wash away food particles and bacteria. This decrease occurs due to damage to the salivary glands caused by smoking.
If left untreated, gum disease can affect the bone structure that supports your teeth. However, if you have dental implants and the structure of your jaw bone is compromised, it could cause the implant posts that are holding your prosthetic teeth in place to come loose and potentially fall out. Some studies have shown that smokers see a greater rate of bone deterioration than non-smokers, as much as 0.16mm per year. While this may not sound a great deal, over the course of a number of years, it could reduce the lifespan of your dental implants.
Smoking affects your ability to heal
Another key problem with smoking after dental implants, particularly if you light up within hours or even days of your surgery, is that smoking actually inhibits the healing process. This is due to the chemicals contained within nicotine interfering with the flow of oxygenated blood to the gums, which is essential if the cells are to repair and heal themselves.
Dental implants are reliant on the jaw bone and gum tissue healing around them to secure them permanently in place – a process known as osseointegration. If this healing process is compromised, it could drastically affect the success of the procedure. The initial few weeks following surgery are the most crucial as this is when osseointegration starts. Smoking during this time can significantly increase the chance of infection or lead to implant failure, the latter which can render the entire surgery a waste of time.
So, how long should I give up smoking for?
If you only intend on giving up smoking for the minimum possible duration, you should be aware that you are putting the longevity of your dental implants at risk. However, if you do not intend on giving up forever, we strongly recommend that you stop smoking at least a week before your dental implant surgery, and for at least two to three weeks after. While everyone should follow a robust oral healthcare routine, it is especially important for smokers as it can help reduce your risk of suffering from periodontal disease.
For more information on smoking and dental implant procedures, or to schedule a consultation to discuss dental implant surgery with us, call PGA Dentistry today at 561-627-8666.