How Smoking can Affect Dental Implants Treatment
It’s not a situation you can ignore for long because the mouth naturally responds to a gap in your smile by having the neighboring teeth lean in to fill it. These become looser themselves and could eventually fall out or need to be extracted, so you want to stop this process before it begins.
That means you need a full dental examination by Dr. Sayena, including a digital x-ray (which involves minimal radiation), to check whether the jawbone underneath the socket of the missing tooth is strong enough to hold a biocompatible titanium implant securely. This replaces the root of the tooth and needs strong bone to anchor it fully, a process known as osseointegration, which takes several months. When secured, a crown, which looks exactly like the visible part of a tooth, can be attached. With proper care, a dental implant can last forever and no one will even be able to tell you once had a missing tooth.
However, the strength of the underlying jawbone is reduced if you smoke because nicotine restricts blood flow and oxygen to the bone and the surrounding tissues (this is even true if you are using a nicotine patch). That impedes the optimal functioning of the immune system for healing and clinical studies show that smokers are less likely to have successful osseointegration.
It’s no wonder that smokers also have a higher degree of periodontal disease, since smoking dries the mouth, resulting in a lack of bacteria-fighting saliva (that also applies to chewing tobacco and smokeless cigarettes). Bacteria thrive on tiny particles of food if you don’t thoroughly brush twice a day and floss after your last snack at night.
It is possible for smokers to have dental implants if the damage thus far is not too serious, but Dr. Sayena will advise on how long you need to stop in advance of the procedure to make its success more likely. As little as one or two weeks may make a difference, if your gums and jawbone are reasonably healthy.
However, you should know that if you take up smoking again within a couple of months after surgery, you will be raising the stakes for failure. In the first 72 hours afterwards, blood clots are formed that prevent bacteria from entering the site of the implant and it is critical that you not only do not smoke, but do not spit or suck on a straw, which can loosen the clots. If you do smoke after that, brush your teeth and use a waterpik to help remove food particles.
If you are missing even one tooth, call Lotus Family Dental for an appointment in West Los Angeles to explore your options.
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