Darn that addictive alkaloid from the nightshade plant family! But this is precisely what nicotine is, and if you're a smoker, your brain has become accustomed to the presence of nicotine in your body and craves it when it's absent. In short, you're addicted. Of course, quitting smoking is very much in your best interests, but anyone about to receive a dental implant should stop smoking immediately.
The Simplicity of the Implant
Even though it's a sophisticated piece of dental technology, the principle of a dental implant is fairly simple. The implant (typically a titanium alloy screw) is inserted into your jawbone, which then secures the implant as it heals (a process called osseointegration). Once it's stable, the tip of the implant is fitted with an abutment, and an artificial tooth is then attached. But what does smoking have to do with any of this?
How Smoking Affects the Implant Process
Dentists may be reluctant to place an implant in a patient who's a heavy smoker. This is because smoking substantially increases your risk of implant failure. Smoking dries out your mouth, which includes the site of the implant—and this can be extremely disruptive to the healing process. Additionally, smoking reduces the flow of oxygen and blood throughout your body, which slows the healing process. Your natural healing ability, rather logically, needs to be as strong as possible for the implant to integrate.
Old Habits Die Hard
Even though your dentist may strongly advise you to stop smoking prior to your implant surgery, it's all too easy to slide back into old habits. You must understand that you're increasing your risk of developing an infection that can lead to implant failure. The first stage of this infection is called peri-implant mucositis.
Infected and Inflamed
Peri-implant mucositis is when the tissues surrounding the implant are infected and inflamed, but the implant's connection to the underlying bone is unaffected. Without urgent dental implant restoration, the condition will progress to peri-implantitis (affecting the bone), which is trickier to treat and often requires implant removal. If you make the decision to smoke following your dental implant placement, and then begin to notice discomfort and inflammation around the implant site, you will need urgent treatment.
Dental Implant Restoration
This treatment can involve mechanical curettage, which uses a small device to scrape contaminants away from the implant. This will be used in conjunction with antiseptic treatment, and antibiotics may be needed. Regular monitoring will be needed to ensure that the implant remains intact.
Anyone who decides to smoke after receiving a dental implant is at an increased risk of developing peri-implant mucositis, followed by peri-implantitis. This risk can largely be avoided by not smoking, but if this isn't possible in your case, please remember that you may need dental implant restoration treatment.
For more information on dental implant restoration, contact a company near you.