Smoking and Dental Implants: Understanding the Relationship

Smoking and Dental Implants: Understanding the Relationship

Smoking can be detrimental to your health in many ways, including having an adverse effect on your dental implants. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the relationship between smoking and dental implants—including the risks associated with them—as well as helpful tips for preventing any issues down the road.

By understanding the connection between smoking and dental implants, you can take the necessary steps so that your implants last for years. Let’s get started!

Summary of the Article

  • Smoking reduces blood flow and healing, increasing the risk of implant failure and infection.

  • Smokers have higher implant complication rates, including implant failure and peri-implantitis.

  • Quitting smoking before implant surgery is crucial for success, as smoking affects healing, increases infection risk, and compromises bone density.

  • Patients can quit smoking with the help of their dentists who can create a plan involving avoiding triggers, and staying active and hydrated.

  • Pre-implant evaluation is necessary to assess oral and overall health status of patients, especially smokers.

  • Smoking impacts implant design and placement, requiring wider implants with rougher surfaces and placement in denser bone areas for stability.

  • Dental implant success rates in former smokers are lower, but quitting for over two years can improve the chances of success.

  • Managing implant complications in smokers involves quitting smoking, regular check-ups, cleaning, antibiotics, and surgery.

  • Alternatives to dental implants for smokers include dentures and bridges, but they may provide different long-term benefits.

How Smoking Affects Dental Implants

Are you a smoker considering getting dental implants? If so, it’s important to know the effects of smoking on its success. Here are some ways smoking affects dental implants:

  • Decreased blood flow:
    Smoking reduces blood flow in your mouth, slowing the healing process after implant surgery. This can increase the risk of failure.

  • Impaired healing:
    Smoking can also impair your immune system, making it harder for your body to fight infection. This can lead to an increased risk of complications during the healing process and implant failure.

  • Increased risk of infection:
    Smoking can cause gum disease, damaging the periodontal tissues (gums and bone) around your implants and increasing the risk of infection.

Smoking affects the long-term success of dental implants. Studies have shown that smokers have a higher risk of implant complications than non-smokers.

Here are some statistics to consider:

If you’re a smoker considering dental implants, you must talk to your dentist about the risks and consider quitting before the procedure. Quitting smoking can not only improve your oral health but can also increase the implant survival rate.

The Importance of Quitting Smoking Before Implant Surgery

Quitting smoking can be challenging, but it’s one of the best things patients can do for their health, especially before implant surgery. Smoking can have a significant impact on implant success rates and long-term survival.

Here’s why quitting smoking before implant surgery is crucial:

  • Smoking affects the healing process:
    Smoking impacts the body’s natural healing process, which is particularly important after implant surgery. It reduces blood flow, limits oxygen supply and nutrients, and increases inflammation. All these factors can compromise bone healing, leading to implant failure or complications.

  • Smoking increases the risk of infection:
    Smoking weakens the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight infections. After implant surgery, an infection can delay the healing process, cause pain and swelling, and even lead to implant failure.

  • Smoking compromises bone density:
    Smoking reduces bone density, which is crucial for implant success. Implants rely on a good amount of healthy bone to integrate properly and provide stability. If the bone is compromised, the implant may not be able to fuse or integrate correctly.

Tips for patients on how to quit smoking before implant surgery and manage cravings during the healing process:

  • Talk to your dentist or doctor:
    They can provide support and resources to help you quit smoking. They may recommend nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or medications to help manage nicotine withdrawal symptoms during healing.

  • Create a quitting plan:
    Choose a quit date, and plan to quit gradually. Consider telling friends and family, joining a support group, or finding an accountability buddy to help you stay on track.

  • Avoid triggers:
    Identify what triggers the urge to smoke and avoid them as much as possible. Common triggers include stress, alcohol, and being around smokers.

  • Stay active and hydrated:
    Regular exercise and staying hydrated can help reduce cravings and improve overall health. Pursue activities like taking walks or practising yoga to help reduce stress and anxiety.

  • Be patient and persistent:
    Quitting smoking is hard but worth it! Remember that the bone healing process may take longer for smokers, so patience and persistence are key.

Pre-implant Evaluation for Smokers

Smokers need to take extra care before undergoing the dental implant procedure. This is because smoking can significantly affect the success rate of implant placement, as it is known for its oral health risks and compromises healing. A thorough pre-implant evaluation is crucial for smokers, and it should include the following:

  • Assessment of Oral Health:
    It is essential to evaluate the oral health of smokers, including any existing dental or periodontal conditions that need to be addressed before the dental implant procedure.

  • Smoking History
    Knowing the patient’s smoking history is critical in determining the potential risks and complications associated with dental implant placement. Dental implants have lower survival in smokers. They have a higher risk of implant failure or other smoking-related oral health issues.

  • Overall Health Status
    A comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s medical history and overall health status is necessary to identify any underlying health conditions that may affect the implant procedure’s success. This includes checking for medications or medical conditions that could affect oral healing or increase the risk of infection.

Smoking and Implant Design

Dental patients must understand how certain habits can impact the success of their dental implants. Smoking, for one, can significantly affect implant design and placement, which may lead to poor healing.

Here’s how:

  • Implant size:
    Smokers have a higher risk of implant failure due to poor osseointegration, the process by which the implant fuses with the jawbone. As a result, implants placed in smokers should have a wider diameter and length to have better bone-to-implant contact and maximise implant stability.

  • Surface characteristics:
    Dental implant surfaces are usually chemically treated to enhance osseointegration. However, smoking can reduce bone formation and slow healing, hindering successful implant integration. To compensate for this, implants with rougher surfaces are preferred for smokers as they promote faster bone growth and improve implant stability.

  • Location:
    The location of the placement of implants is another crucial factor to consider in smokers. Implants for smokers should be placed in areas with denser bone and away from the sinuses to reduce the risk of implant failure due to lack of bone density.

Smoking and implant design are closely linked. Cigarette smoking habits can impact the success of dental implants. As such, smokers must be aware of the potential risks of dental implant placement and advised accordingly.

Smoking and Bone Grafting

Bone grafting is a common procedure preceding dental implant surgery, as bones must be strong and dense to support dental implants. Bone grafting involves the transplantation of bone tissue, and the procedure’s success depends on many factors, including the patient’s health, lifestyle habits, and Smoking, in particular, has a detrimental effect on bone graft procedure success, as it has negative effects on bone health and slows down the healing process.

Here’s what you need to know about the relationship between smoking and bone grafting:

  • Smoking increases the risk of implant failure:
    Smoking causes a decrease in blood flow to the bones, impairs the healing process and reduces bone density. As a result, the implants are more likely to fail or become loose.

  • Smoking delays bone healing:
    The chemicals in tobacco smoke can cause poor blood flow to the bones and decrease the production of cells essential for bone healing. Bone grafting procedures involve transplanting live bone tissue, and smoking can slow down the integration of the graft with existing bone tissue, reducing the chances of success.

  • Smoking increases the risk of infection:
    Smoking weakens the immune system and increases the risk of infections, which can be a major setback during bone grafting procedures. Infections can lead to implant failure, bone loss, and other complications that can affect the success of the implant treatment.

Smoking and bone grafting have a complex relationship, and quitting is essential for success. For optimal results, implant patients should be advised to quit smoking well before bone grafting procedures. Dental health professionals should also educate their patients about the risks of smoking and encourage them to adopt a healthier lifestyle for better overall health.

The Benefits of Quitting Smoking for Oral Health

Quitting smoking can bring about many benefits for your health, especially oral health. Here are some of the broader benefits of quitting smoking:

  • Reducing the Risk of Gum Disease:
    Smoking has been known to cause faster progression of gum disease. When you quit smoking, your risk of developing gum disease decreases significantly.

  • Improving Oral Hygiene:
    Smoking can lead to discolouration of teeth, bad breath, and plaque buildup, which can cause further worsen your oral health. When you quit smoking, you can maintain good oral hygiene and keep your teeth and gums healthy.

  • Reducing the Risk of Tooth Loss:
    Smoking can contribute to tooth loss by weakening the bone structure surrounding teeth. Quitting smoking can reduce this risk and keep your teeth intact.

  • Lowering the Risk of Oral Cancer:
    Smoking is one of the leading causes of oral cancer. You can significantly decrease your risk of developing this deadly disease by quitting smoking.

If you’re a smoker looking to quit, you can explore resources such as nicotine replacement therapy, counselling, and support groups. Your dentist can also provide tips and guidance on quitting and how it can benefit your oral health. Remember, quitting smoking is a journey, but its benefits for oral health and overall well-being are worth it.

Success Rates of Dental Implants in Former Smokers

Dental implants have revolutionised the treatment options for missing teeth. They offer a long-lasting solution to improve dental health, function and aesthetics. However, dental implant success depends on several factors, including one’s history of smoking.

Here’s what the evidence suggests about dental implant success rates in former smokers:

  • Compared to non-smokers, former smokers have a lower rate of dental implant failure but a higher rate than those who never smoked.

  • The implant outcomes in former heavy smokers are also affected by the length of time since they quit smoking. Those who stop longer than 2 years have similar success rates as non-smokers.

  • Smoking affects the body’s ability to heal, increasing the risk of implant failure due to decreased bone density, lower oxygen levels in oral tissues, and compromised immune responses.

  • Despite being a former smoker, there are still potential benefits to quitting smoking before implant surgery, including an increased chance of success and a reduced risk of oral health problems.

  • Quitting smoking can also improve overall health and well-being and reduce the risk of developing several health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Dental implant success rates in former smokers are lower than in non-smokers, but quitting smoking for over two years can dramatically improve the chances of success. Quitting smoking before implant surgery, even for a short period, can prevent further damage and enhance oral health in former smokers, leading to healthier and better-looking teeth. It’s never too late to stop smoking and improve oral and general health.

Managing Implant Complications in Smokers

Smoking can have numerous detrimental effects on one’s health, including increased dental implant failure rates and peri-implantitis. Fortunately, there are various ways to manage these complications, including:

  1. Quit smoking
    This is the most effective way to prevent complications from arising and improve implant success rates. Smoking cessation significantly reduces the risk of implant failure, enhances healing and promotes better tissue integration.

  2. Regular dental check-ups – It is crucial to schedule regular dental check-ups with your dentist to monitor the condition of your implants and detect any complications early on. Your dentist can perform a comprehensive examination, including X-rays and periodontal charting, to evaluate the health of the implant and the peri-implant tissues.

  3. Professional cleaning
    Regular professional cleaning is crucial to maintaining good oral hygiene and preventing the development of peri-implantitis. Your dentist can thoroughly clean the implant and the surrounding tissues, removing plaque and food debris.

  4. Antibiotics
    In cases where peri-implantitis has already developed, antibiotics may be prescribed to eliminate the infection and prevent its recurrence. Antibiotics can be administered orally or applied directly in the gum tissues of the affected site.

  5. Surgery
    In severe cases, a second-stage surgery may be required to manage implant complications. This may involve removing and replacing the implant with a new one or performing bone and tissue grafting to support the implant.

Implant complications in smokers can be managed effectively with preventative measures, regular dental check-ups, and appropriate treatment interventions. Quitting smoking is the best way to prevent complications, but if complications occur, timely and proper management is essential for preserving the health and longevity of the implant.

Alternatives to Dental Implants for Smokers

When it comes to tooth replacement options, dental implants are a popular and practical choice. However, dental implants may not be the best option for smokers, especially those who are not willing to quit smoking. Luckily, there are alternative options available that may be more suitable:

Removable Dentures


  • Cost-effective compared to dental implants
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • No surgical procedure required


  • Can feel uncomfortable and bulky in the mouth
  • May affect speech, particularly if not fitted properly
  • Can lead to bone loss in the jaw if used long-term

Dental Bridges

  • Cost-effective compared to dental implants
  • Can improve the appearance of the smile
  • No surgical procedure required


  • Requires healthy teeth on either side of the gap to support the bridge
  • Can lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease if not cleaned properly
  • Only lasts for a limited time and may require replacement.

It’s important to note that while these options may be more suitable for smokers, they may not provide the same long-term benefits as dental implants. Consult your dentist to determine which option best suits your individual needs and overall oral health. Remember, smoking can have a negative impact on your oral health, so it’s essential to maintain good oral hygiene and quit smoking for better overall health.

Final Thoughts

Quitting smoking is a significant step in protecting your oral health and overall well-being. Dental implants may be a good option for smokers, but it requires commitment to lifestyle changes in order to be successful. In addition to quitting smoking, regular visits to your dentist can help ensure that your teeth and gums remain healthy and strong. Taking these steps can help ensure you maintain a healthy and beautiful smile for years. Take charge of your oral health today and make those positive changes! Your future self will thank you!

At Mary River Dental, we understand the importance of good oral health and are committed to helping you achieve a functional smile. We provide comprehensive dental services that help protect your teeth, gums, and mouth from future problems.

Dr. Nick Peters


Dr. Nick Peters

Dr. Nick Peters joined Mary River Dental in 2014 and held Medical Laboratory Science and Dental Surgery degrees from the University of Otago in New Zealand. Before joining the practice, he worked for three years at a private dental clinic in Invercargill. Dr. Peters moved to the Fraser Coast region of Australia after visiting Mary River Dental in 2014.

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