After you receive dental implants, your gums and jawbone will need some time to heal. Unfortunately, one of the most common bad habits that can be quite harmful to dental implant healing: smoking tobacco. Here's what you should know about how smoking can harm your new dental implants.
1. Oral Tissue Damage
One primary oral health concern from smoking tobacco is the direct damage it can cause to tissues in the mouth. Tobacco smoke irritates, weakens, and discolors gums, a condition known as smoker's melanosis. Over time, smoking also contributes to gum disease and causes gum tissue to deteriorate more quickly.
Severe gum tissue damage from smoking may prevent some people from dental implant surgery. Smokers may not have enough gum tissue present to cover the root of the implant. Some patients can still be successful implant candidates if tissue grafting is used to rebuild damaged areas of the gums.
2. Slowed Healing Response
Dental implants rely on the body's natural healing response to fuse with the jawbone. Gum healing is also essential to hold the implant snugly in place. Smoking restricts blood flow to the bone and gum tissues around a new implant and may prevent the implant from fusing correctly.
Restricted blood flow caused by smoking also inhibits the body's immune response. Smokers are at greater risk of infection while dental implants are healing. The body must maintain a robust immune response to prevent bacteria from infecting the socket around a new implant.
3. Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is a known side-effect of smoking tobacco. Dry mouth is particularly detrimental while dental implants are healing. Saliva plays a crucial role in washing bacteria and food particles away from the implant. Many of the body's most important immune system antibodies and enzymes are contained in saliva.
A bacterial infection around a dental implant is known as peri-implantitis. This condition is characterized by swelling and soreness in the gums around the implant. Smokers should use mouthwash regularly and stay hydrated throughout the day while their implants are healing to fight the effects of dry mouth. Dental implant surgery has a high success rate, and your new implants will last a lifetime if they are allowed to heal properly. The best way to ensure the success of new dental implants is to abstain from smoking during recovery.
Don't assume dental implants aren't right for you just because you smoke. Talk to your dentist to determine if implants are the right choice to restore your smile! For more information about dental implants, contact a local dentist near you to learn more.
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