I lost my teeth because of severe gum disease. I have that under control now but want to switch from straight dentures to implant overdentures. I’m running into some trouble finding a dentist or oral surgeon who’s willing to do the procedure while I’m still a smoker. Do I really have to quit to get the implants?
First, I want to say congratulations on getting your gum disease under control. That took a lot of work on your part, especially if it was advanced enough for you to lose so many teeth. Bravo on taking things in hand.
You’ve also chosen a great replacement asking for implant overdentures. As you’ve likely already noticed, dentures have a ton of problems that come right along with them. No matter how well fitted they are, you lose about 50% of your chewing capacity.
The worst side effect however is the facial collapse. You won’t have noticed yet, if they’re fairly new. Your jawbone is slowly shrinking because there are no teeth roots in your jawbone to alert your brain that it is needed anymore.
Because of that, it starts using those minerals elsewhere. In about 10 or so years, you won’t have enough jaw bone left to keep your dentures in your mouth. Implant overdentures solve that by placing dental implants in your jawbone, preserving the minerals.
The Problem with Smoking
I’m not going to lecture you about your lungs. You’ve likely heard that countless times and if that hasn’t stopped you, I don’t think hearing it one more time will.
What you may not be aware of, though, it the effect on your gums. Any nicotene (including vaping) causes the blood vessels in your gums to restrict.
This has three negative effects:
- It slows down healing. When healing doesn’t progress, then infection sets in. Infection is the leading cause of dental implant failure.
- It also prevents osseointegration. Once the implants are placed, your bone will need to fuse to the implant. With constricted vessels that becomes harder. If the bonding doesn’t take place, the implants will fail.
- Smoking puts patients at greater risk for gum disease. You’ve already been dealing with that. Continued smoking will make it more likely for you to develop it again as well as cause the implants to loosen and fail.
While you are likely to find a dentist willing to give you the implants, most will be those who care less about your outcome than their profit. Consider carefully who you use to do this procedure if you continue smoking.
This blog is brought to you by Atlanta Periodontist Dr. David Pumphrey.