For patients who’ve lost one, several, nearly all, or all of their teeth, dental implants can provide an impressively lifelike and long-lasting solution to rebuilding their smiles. However, while many patients qualify for dental implant placement, the long-term success of their replacement teeth relies largely on what they do after the procedure – like smoking.
When taken care of through excellent hygiene and regular dental care, dental implant posts can last for life, and their restorations can last well past ten or more years. But patients who smoke or chew tobacco are at a significantly increased risk of dental implant failure due to infection and an inhibited ability to heal properly.
How Implants Work
Dental implant-supported replacement teeth consist of three parts:
- One or more implant posts that are carefully inserted into the jawbone.
- A connective abutment for each post that extends above the gum line.
- An appropriate restoration (i.e., dental crown, partial denture, or complete denture), depending on how many teeth you’ve lost.
Each implant post is made from biocompatible titanium, and as your jawbone heals, it bonds to the post as though it were genuinely a part of your anatomy. This process – known as osseointegration – is the basis for the success of dental implants, but it can become compromised when patients continue to smoke after receiving dental implants.
Smoking, Dental Health, and Implant Failure
Even if you still retain all of your teeth, it’s no secret that smoking cigars, cigarettes, and even electronic cigarettes increases your risks of serious dental disease and tooth loss. The myriad chemicals found in tobacco and tobacco smoke can wreak havoc with the body’s immune system and healing properties, making periodontal disease and infection more likely. For patients who smoke, the risks of implant failure are over 15%, compared to the just over 1% of implant patients who don’t smoke.