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  • Writer's pictureHorizon Oral Surgery


If you are a smoker and are reading this, let me congratulate you for making it this far because it shows that you clearly are interested to learn how smoking can affect the success rate of dental implant surgery.

While most people are aware that smoking cigarettes can significantly increase the risk of oral cancer, many are unaware that it can also impair normal wound healing and thus potentially reduce the rate of success with many oral surgery procedures such as extractions, bone grafting and implant surgery.

Without going into much detail, here is a list of different ways that smoking can impair normal wound healing:

a) Smoking can damage the normal mucosal lining of your mouth. The smoke from cigarette smoking or vaping is at a high enough temperature that it can burn the top layer of skin cells in your mouth without you even realizing it. Smoking can damage the salivary glands in the mouth which is why most smokers complain of constant dry mouth sensation. A dry mouth can result in many other problems such as gum disease and tooth decay. The end result of this vicious cycle may be loss of gum tissue, loss of bone tissue and loss of teeth. An implant is a foreign man-made device which requires healthy gums and bones in order to successfully integrate. The baseline tissue foundation in smokers is diminished and what remains has poor healing capacity. As such, implant surgery in smokers can be associated with reduced success rate when compared to non-smokers.

b) The active ingredient in cigarettes is Nicotine. Nicotine has been shown to restrict normal blood flow. The jaw bones and overlying gum tissue have numerous tiny blood vessels which provide blood containing nutrients to the various regions of our mouths. With less blood flow, these tissues will not receive the nutrients needed for survival and the antibodies needed to fight off infection. Reduced blood flow can also significantly reduce the rate of normal healing. Slower healing and increased risk of infection, can again interrupt the process of implant healing and prevent it from bonding to the jaw bone.

c) Research has shown that chronic smoking has been associated with many other disease conditions that may adversely affect your oral health. In other words, smoking can adversely affect oral health both directly and indirectly by impairing other body functions. For example, tobacco can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and cancer. The downside to all these conditions is increased inflammation throughout the body. Long-term uncontrolled inflammation results in tissue damage and increased risk of infection. Again, all these factors will adversely affect the rate of success normally associated with implant surgery.

While, we highly recommend smoking cessation to all our patients to reduce the risk of developing oral cancer, it is important to understand that smoking cigarettes can also adversely affect the success of most oral surgery procedures and increase the risk of complications. So please, strongly consider smoking cessation and contact your physician or pharmacist to create a plan that can help you successfully quit smoking.


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