Dental Implants are nothing new, with the ‘modern day’ version emerging in the 1950’s. Over the past several decades, they have been perfected as a dependable tooth replacement system. There are now many types of Dental Implants, designed to accommodate various needs and preferences. Dental Implants are designed to last a lifetime (having up to a 98% success rate). However, like anything that’s not a natural part of the body, there is a potential for failure.

Dental Implants are highly beneficial, restoring one’s natural ability to bite and chew comfortably. Because they recreate stimulation to the jaw bone like that of natural tooth roots, they also help to halt bone loss. This bone loss can contribute to the loss of neighboring teeth as well as changes in facial appearance. If you’ve every noticed a person who’s mouth seems collapsed into their face, this ‘granny look’ is a common result of bone loss due to missing tooth roots.

Any age can have a successful and lasting result with Dental Implants. Studies have shown that age is not a factor in implant success, with an equal success rate in younger and older patients. One such study included 133 adults over the age of 80 with no teeth. Results showed that the elderly patients had treatment results comparable to those in younger age groups. Factors that enhance the potential for a successful outcome, at any age, are having healthy gums and sufficient bone to support the implant. Patients must also be committed to good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups.

A significant contributor to implant failure? Smoking. Studies have shown that smokers have more calculus (tartar) than nonsmokers. Calculus is the cement-like buildup on teeth that is a concentrated accumulation of oral bacteria. When gums are already battling a bacterial onslaught, their ability to accept Dental Implants and promote successful healing is not good.

In studies, smokers were 3 – 6 times more likely to have gum diseases than nonsmokers. Smoking dries out oral tissues and decreases the production of saliva. Due to less saliva and constricted blood flow, smokers have less gum bleeding and redness. This can lead to the false perception that their gums are healthy. Smoking also hinders healing in your mouth, making treatment much more difficult.

To illustrate this point, one study found that smokers were twice as likely as nonsmokers to lose teeth in the five years after completing treatment for gum disease. Smokers also don’t respond as well to oral surgery treatments. It’s no surprise that Dental Implants are more likely to fail in smokers because of poor healing.

Researchers who have studied how tobacco smoke affects oral tissues say it appears to interfere with the body’s natural ability to fight disease and promote healing. Apparently, smoking affects the way gum tissue responds to all types of treatment, possibly due to tobacco chemicals that interfere with blood flow to the gums. This slows the healing process and makes treatment results less favorable.

Pipe and cigar smokers and those who use smokeless tobacco are just as likely to have Dental Implant complications than those who smoke cigarettes. According to a study at Temple University, 18% of former cigar or pipe smokers had moderate to severe gum disease, three times the amount found in non-smokers. Pipe smokers have rates of tooth loss similar to cigarette smokers.

The Surgeon General has good news for those wanting (or trying to) quit smoking. A recent study reported that people who had quit smoking 11 years prior had nearly the same rate of gum disease as those who never smoked.

Reducing the amount you smoke can also make a difference. One study found that people who smoked over a pack and a half a day were 6 times more prone to develop gum disease than nonsmokers. Those who smoked less than a half pack a day had only 3 times the risk.

While every Dental Implant placed is intended to have a successful outcome for your lifetime, and for all ages, those who smoke must accept the risks for failure. The first step is a thorough evaluation of your gums and existing bone to support Dental Implants. From there, we can help you take the first step towards the ability to eat the foods you love and laugh with confidence! Call (219) 987-5733 for an appointment.