Does Smoking Cause Dental Implants to Fail?
Posted on: September 21, 2022
3 minute read
Smoking can negatively affect the outcome of many dental and surgical procedures, including dental implant surgery. The chemicals in cigarettes can interfere with the healing process and increase the risk of infections and oral health problems that can cause implants to fail.
If you’re a smoker and interested in replacing missing teeth with dental implants, book a consultation with our dentists in Perth to discuss your options. We’ll assess your suitability for treatment and recommend ways to help you achieve a successful outcome.
Implant success rates: smokers vs non-smokers
Dental implants have a high success rate when treatment is provided by an experienced dentist and the patient is determined to be suitable. Smoking is one of the primary risk factors that can affect eligibility for implants and long-term success of treatment.
A 2012 review of previous studies concerning smoking and dental implant failure found that:
- The failure rate of dental implants was consistently higher for smokers compared to non-smokers, ranging from 6.5% to 20% in different studies.
- The risk of implant failure was directly proportional to the frequency of smoking, with heavy smokers being the most likely to experience failure and complications.
- Smoking was also found to increase the risk of complications following implant surgery, including increased bone loss, infections and gum problems around implants.
- Smoking can also affect the success of bone grafting procedures for implants, with implants in a grafted upper jaw being twice as likely to fail in smokers.
Your eligibility for dental implants will depend on your oral health, overall health, how often you smoke and whether you are prepared to stop. Avoiding smoking during the healing phase will lower the risk of implant failure, but there will still be long-term risks if you continue to smoke afterwards.
Watch as our very own Dr Rainer Anderson explains the effects of smoking for patients looking to replace missing teeth with dental implants.
How does smoking affect implant success?
Implant failure and complications related to smoking are primarily caused by nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco smoke. As the tongue acts as a barrier for the lower jaw, problems are more likely to develop with implants in the upper jaw.
Smoking-related problems can include:
The absorption of nicotine into the bloodstream can cause narrowing of the blood vessels, reducing blood flow and oxygen to the mouth. This can affect healing from implant surgery and prevent implants from fusing successfully with the jaw bone.
Smoking during the healing stage may cause swelling or infection of gums around the implant (known as peri-implantitis). This can prevent the gum from tightening around the implant and holding it in place and causing implants to fail. Smoking also increases the risk of developing advanced gum disease, which can cause implant failure.
Infection of the implant site
The exposed implant site will also be vulnerable to infection from bacteria and chemicals in tobacco if you smoke during the initial healing phase.
Jaw bone loss tends to be higher in smokers than non-smokers. This can leave an insufficient amount of bone to anchor an implant in place and may also affect the success of a bone graft performed prior to surgery.
Got questions? Get in touch with our team today, or ask Dr Norcross a question directly.
How can I lower my risks?
The good news is that smoking doesn’t automatically disqualify you from getting dental implants. Whether you are a candidate for implants depends on your individual smoking habits and whether you are willing to follow your dentist’s advice for lowering your risks of implant failure and other complications.
If you’re a smoker, giving up the habit will significantly increase your chance of treatment success, along with improving your oral health and overall health in many other ways. If you’re a heavy smoker however, it’s best to book a consultation with the dentist so we can take diagnostics to determine if you’re suitable for dental implants.
If you’re not able to quit permanently, our dentists will recommend you avoid smoking at a minimum between two weeks before and two months after your implants are placed. By this time, most implant healing will be complete and the risk of failure will be reduced.
Cutting down on the number of cigarettes you smoke will also lower your risk factor, but this will still be considerably higher compared to a non-smoker.
Managing other lifestyle risks
You can improve your chances of a successful outcome further by addressing other risk factors for dental implant failure that are in your power to control, besides smoking. This may include:
- Not drinking excessive alcohol, which contributes to dry mouth
- Following a healthy and balanced diet to support healthy gums and immune response
- Getting plenty of exercise
- Talking to your doctor about any underlying health conditions that can be a risk for implant failure, such as diabetes or immune disorders
Improving your oral health
Looking after your oral health is important even if you’re replacing all or most of your natural teeth with implants, as problems such as gum disease can cause implants to fail and will affect your suitability for treatment.
Dental implant treatment is a big decision and a long-term investment in your oral health. Being able to lower your risk factor directly impacts treatment success and can help you retain the full function and aesthetics your teeth and overall smile for life.
You can maintain good oral hygiene by:
- Brushing your teeth and gums twice a day using a soft-headed toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
- Flossing between natural teeth or replacement teeth daily to remove trapped food and plaque
- Avoiding food high in sugar and carbohydrates that feeds plaque on teeth
- Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and wash away bacteria and acids
- Using an antibacterial mouthwash, if this is recommended by your dentist
- Keeping up with your scheduled dental appointments for a comprehensive check-up and professional cleaning
What if I’m not eligible for dental implants?
If our dentists determine that you may be at high risk of dental implant failure, we may discuss a plan to manage and improve your oral health over time to prepare your mouth for dental implants.
If there isn’t enough jaw bone to support dental implants we may discuss alternative solutions such as a dental bridge or dentures that may be more suitable. However, it’s important to understand that smoking increases your risk of complications for all dental treatments.
Book a consultation for dental implants in Perth
If you’re interested in replacing missing or damaged teeth with dental implants in Perth and want to know if you’re suitable , book a consultation with our experienced implant dentist Dr David Norcross at Perth Dental Implant Centre.
- Kasat V, Ladda R. Smoking and dental implants. J Int Soc Prev Community Dent. 2012;2(2):38-41. doi:10.4103/2231-0762.109358