Dental implants really are amazing. They replace single teeth and prevent bone loss, they provide solutions for patients with multiple missing teeth, and they can even act as a permanent solution for dentures that slip, fall, and won’t stay put.
Despite all of these great benefits our Rochester dentist office has identified a common problem for dental implant patients: smoking. Study after study has shown that dental implants are jeopardized by tobacco use during healing and for the life of the implant. It could take years but you could completely lose your dental implants due to smoking!
What Are Dental Implants?
Implants are tooth-sized titanium screws that are placed directly into your jawbone. Once healed they are restored with either crowns or bridges that are fixed in place permanently! They act just like the roots of natural teeth and bond strongly with bone, giving you realistic looking and feeling tooth restorations!
What Does Smoking Do To Implants?
We all know that smoking has several serious health risks associated with it and it’s also a problem for your oral health as well. Studies of the mouths of both smokers and nonsmokers show that the balance of oral bacteria is vastly different. There are over 300 strains of bacteria in the mouth of the typical dental patient but smokers have far less diversity!
The worst part is that the bacteria living in the mouths of smokers is mostly made up of the harmful strains of bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. While you might not have any natural teeth left to worry about cavities there’s still serious health complications tied to oral bacteria that can destroy your implants: peri-implant disease.
What Is Peri-Implant Disease?
Very similar to gum disease, peri-implant disease involves bacteria getting under your gumline and causing inflammation and infection. Gums that are irritated by bacteria will become inflamed, pull away from teeth, and start receding to show the roots of teeth, or in the case of implants the titanium portion normally hidden by healthy gums.
The first stage of peri-implantitis is similar to gingivitis and is called peri-implant mucositis. At this stage you’ll notice gums that are swollen and red, that bleed easily during brushing, and that start to recede. These are all signs that bacteria has started to take up residence beneath your gums and is causing them to pull away from your bone and implant.
Over time you’ll start to notice more and more gum recession that comes along with a far more frightening problem: bone recession. Your dental implants need bone to stabilize them and when oral bacteria starts to cause it to disintegrate you’ll notice your implants starting to loosen. This advanced stage is called peri-implantitis and its outcome is often complete implant loss.
The loss of a dental implant due to bone degradation is often irreversible. In some cases we can restore lost implants after extensive bone reconstruction surgery but the worst part is that it was completely avoidable!
Preventing Peri-Implant Disease
The most fundamental part of preventing peri-implant disease is to stop smoking right away! Your dental implants aren’t invincible and you don’t want to lose the investment you made in your smile. The time and money spent restoring your missing teeth and making life better just aren’t worth the harm that tobacco use can cause.
It’s also important to care for your dental implants the same way you would care for natural teeth. Brushing twice a day and flossing in the evening is a key part of preventing bacteria from getting below the gumline. But it isn’t always enough – you also need to see us at Northwest Dental Group for regular cleanings and exams as well. It’s all a part of maintaining a healthy mouth no matter how many natural teeth you have left!
We want to help your dental implants be a part of your life that lasts forever but that requires good home dental care, smoking cessation, and regular professional checkups at our Rochester dentist office. If you’re concerned about the stability and health of your teeth or dental implants don’t hesitate to call us right away!