When it comes to crucial developments in dentistry, the dental implant placement procedure makes it in the list of top five. Implants help individuals to regain their lost chewing power, jaw support, and in controlling facial sagging.
The credit for introducing this revolutionary treatment goes to Per-Ingvar Branemark, a Swedish researcher and orthopedic surgeon. Back in 1952, he discovered titanium’s biocompatibility factor and its ability to integrate with the jaw bone. Thanks to his research, today, missing teeth can be replaced with artificial ones consisting of titanium screw root.
Implants contain a titanium screw and a ceramic crown. The screw is surgically placed in the patient’s lower or upper jaw. Dentists administer local or general anaesthetic to ensure the patient feels comfortable while undergoing the procedure.
The surgery can be performed at the dental office or a hospital. However, the individual should have healthy gums along with sufficient bone for supporting the titanium structure. Dentists evaluate the patient’s oral health and medical history before giving a green signal for the procedure.
The link between smoking and oral health
As per the data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, roughly 16 million individuals in the United States fall prey to diseases caused due to smoking. The country also witnesses 480,000 deaths related to cigarette smoking every year.
Selected dental care experts, surgeons, refuse to perform the implant procedure on longtime smokers as their jawbone and gums are often in unhealthy condition.
Several studies have already proved that smoking causes extreme adverse effects on a person’s overall health. It is linked with various types of cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, low birth rate, pneumonia, and atherosclerosis.
It is of common knowledge that smoking results in staining of restorations and natural teeth. The lesser-discussed fact is the impact of smoking on an individual’s oral health. Case studies have pointed out that smokers are prone to oral health issues. Gum tissue loss, bone loss in the jaw, cancerous lesions, and peri-implantitis are some of the problems triggered due to consumption of tobacco.
It results in delayed healing of wounds after orthognathic surgeries and even simple tooth extraction.
Studies have also highlighted that nicotine aggravates the periodontal disease. It interferes with wound healing by negatively impacting gingival fibroblast’s abilities as well as the cellular protein synthesis process. Smoking has the potential to burn oral tissues and damage the salivary glands, resulting in a dry month.
High exposure to nicotine can cause a dry socket after dental extraction. Plus, the outcome of orthognathic surgeries, as well as non-surgical periodontal therapies, can be negatively impacted.
Does smoking affect dental implants? Is there any evidence suggesting the same?
The effect of smoking on dental implants is serious. Back in 2007, scientists from the University of Murcia (Spain) released details about their study that placed a spotlight on the harm caused to dental implants due to smoking. Excerpts from this study were published in the Journal of Periodontology, February 2007 edition.
Overall, 66 patients had participated in the research that lasted for five years. Participants were divided into two groups, smokers, and non-smokers. A total of 165 implant surgeries were performed on them. Out of these, 15.8 percent failed implants were reported from the smokers’ group. On the other hand, non-smoking counterparts showed 1.4 percent failed implant cases. The affected implants were unable to integrate with the surrounding tissues. Their research also found that smoking slowed down bone-healing due to its adverse effects on the blood flow towards tissues and bone.
One of the researchers, Dr. Arturo Sanchez Perez, had stressed on the point that smokers faced a greater risk of an infection after the implant surgery. The chances of implant failure also remained stronger in patients who were chronic smokers.
Cease smoking for improving oral health
The most commonly raised queries by smokers during the pre-surgery visit are, ‘can I smoke after implant surgery?’ and ‘how long after dental implants can I smoke?’
Dentists create a plan and urge smokers to quit smoking at least a week before performing the procedure. As a part pre- and post-operation programs, dental care experts recommend patients to not to smoke for at least 90 days after undergoing the implant process. Antibiotics are prescribed during this period to minimize the chances of infection. Thus, as mentioned earlier, smokers are advised to ensure they do not smoke during the osseointegration period of three months after completion of the implant process. Smoking cigarettes or consuming tobacco products during this period can result in complications.
Resuming smoking at an early stage can be an open invitation to implant failure. The treatment may prove costly as it requires the removal of implants, reinserting fixtures, and cleaning the infected areas. Let’s not forget the extreme pain factor.
Exercising, drinking a lot of water, and chewing can prove to be helpful. Staying away from smoking areas as well as friends or family members who are chronic smokers is crucial in avoiding triggers. The patient must also ensure that he/she gets the right amount of sleep. Avoid caffeine, and keep ashtrays, lighters, cigarette packets away from sight.
Implants appear like natural teeth and need the same kind of regular oral care to avoid infection. Brushing, flossing, and gargling with special mouth rinses remains crucial.
Besides smokers, patients who have diabetes, bite misalignment, or oral hygiene issues, remain vulnerable to peri-implantitis. The infection affects the areas surrounding the implant.
Bleeding around the implant, difficulty in chewing, pus discharge in areas around the artificial tooth, and red or puffy gums are some of the symptoms that indicate infected dental implant.
After checking the severity of the infection, the dentist recommends anti-infection medication, antimicrobial therapy, laser therapy, or other surgeries to get the implant back on track.