Will a Dental Implant Fail If You Smoke?

The effects of smoking can negatively affect your oral health. If you're a smoker, your dentist may not be keen to use an implant to replace a missing tooth on the basis that your habit reduces the chances that the procedure will work as it should. How does smoking affect an implant and how serious are the chances of failure?

What an Implant Needs to Succeed

Although an implant is a common procedure, it is a complex one that needs good oral health to work. The implant post is inserted into the bone in your gum; over time, the bone grows around the post to anchor it firmly into place. For this to work, you need enough healthy bone that is capable of integrating the post together with a level of oral health that allows your mouth to heal correctly.

The Impact of Smoking

If you smoke, your oral health may not be as good as you think it is. You may not have any specific problems at the moment, but your habit may make put you at risk of developing problems after implant surgery. For example, you may experience the following issues that may make the implant fail:

  • Smoking increases your risk of gum disease which may affect the bones in your mouth, making it harder for an implant to successfully integrate in the bone.
  • You may be more likely to develop an infection after the implant has been inserted and, according to Quit Now, your habit may also decrease your body's ability to heal after an implant procedure.

Although you may be willing to take a gamble and go ahead with the implant, the evidence that smoking causes implant failure may make your dentist unwilling to authorise the procedure. According to Tobacco in Australia, a study found that 15.3% of implants failed for respondents who smoked while only 2% failed for non-smokers.

Does Quitting Help?

If you give up smoking, your dentist may agree to take another look and consider you for implant surgery. You may need to give up for a while before you get the go ahead and to commit to not starting to smoke again immediately afterwards to convince your dentist that you're serious about quitting.

Even if you give up your habit, you may run into problems. If your smoking has previously affected your oral health, and you don't have enough bone density to hold the implant, your dentist won't put one in. You may be able to build up bone for the implant by using procedures such as bone grafts or may be advised to find an alternative to the implant such as a denture or bridge.