Can I have dental implants if I smoke?

13 Dec 2017

‘“You saved my life ‒ you really did,” isn’t something I expected to hear so often when I trained as a dentist,’ says Dr Anthony Zybutz, Co-founder and Lead Dentist at Total Dentalcare Implant Centres (TDC).

‘When my patients say this to me, or write it in their online reviews, they’re often not just referring to the effects TDC Smile in a Day dental implants have had on their day-to-day lives by transforming the way they look, eat, and feel about themselves, but how it helped them to stop smoking.’

Smoking is not a barrier

We always celebrate this outcome at TDC but are aware that many people wrongly believe they can’t have tooth implant procedures unless they quit smoking.

This isn’t the case.

‘Of course, everyone now knows how bad smoking is for your health ‒ it increases your risk of developing everything from lung cancer to heart disease.

But we don’t believe that smoking should prevent our patients having the TDC Smile in a Day dental implant procedure,’ says Dr Anthony.

Assessing the risks

‘We’re really upfront with our patients and let them know the risks of continuing to smoke and how it can negatively impact on their health and surgical outcome as well as the long-term prognosis for their teeth,’ says Dr Anthony.

‘Smoking causes gum disease for both teeth and implants, damages the bone structure of the jaw, and results in bad breath and stained teeth.

We also let them know how the habit will affect the chance of success of their dental implants, but we’re non-judgemental and don’t preach to our patients or try to bully them into quitting.

However, if our patients need to have bone or gum grafts in addition to implant surgery we will not go ahead if they smoke as smoking has been shown to cause a high failure rate for grafting procedures.

Something else our patients need to consider is that unless they quit for good, smoking will continue to increase their risk of periodontal infections and bone loss leading to tooth loss.’

And what about smokers where smoking has already caused a significant amount of damage to their jawbone?

‘In most cases, even where there has been a lot of bone loss, we can utilise our Smile in a Day protocol to place dental implants. In patients with extreme bone loss, a zygomatic or cheekbone implant may be needed for the dental implant to succeed,’ says Dr Anthony.

How smoking will affect your dental implants

So exactly how does smoking negatively affect the placement of dental implants?

‘Our dental implants are made from titanium and when we place one in your jawbone the bone and gum integrate with the implant and hold it firmly in place,’ says Dr Anthony.

‘However, nicotine constricts your blood vessels, depriving the tissue in your mouth of oxygen and nutrients, and also reduces saliva flow, all of which slows down the healing process. Smoking also lowers your immunity and ability to fight infection.

Studies have shown that this means that integration success rates with smokers are about 90% compared with the 98% success rates we have with non-smokers. In other words, success is still highly predictable and hence being a smoker absolutely shouldn’t deter patients from having dental implants placed.’

Looking and feeling younger

Many patients find that when they’re making such a big investment in their teeth, they’re also ready to commit to quit. ‘It’s as if they’ve drawn a line in the sand,’ says Dr Anthony.

‘Smile in a Day makes our patients look and feel younger (often because they no longer have to wear dentures) and it gets rid of the heavy infection in their mouths. Many realise that being a smoker doesn’t fit with their new, more confident image. That’s why we give them as much support as we can to help them stop smoking before having surgery and suggest they speak to their GP about accessing help in doing this on the NHS.’

Emotional support

Patients often use smoking-cessation tablets (Champix and Zyban) and nicotine-replacement products (patches, gum, lozenges, inhalators, mouth and nasal sprays and e-cigarettes) to help them quit, but it’s important to be aware that there can also be an emotional or habitual element to smoking that these methods don’t address. ‘That’s why we provide our patients with a copy of the best-selling book Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking,’ says Dr Anthony.

‘We also refer certain patients to clinical hypnotherapist Lisa Jackson, who has over 10 years’ experience in combating dental phobias and helping smokers during the quitting process. According to a meta-study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology and reported in New Scientist magazine, hypnosis is the most effective way of stopping smoking – the study found that it’s five times more effective than willpower alone.’

A warm welcome at TDC Dental Implant Centres

‘Whether you’re a smoker or non-smoker, the professional team at TDC looks forward to meeting you and discussing how we can help you to have a smile you’ll love,’ says Dr Anthony.

To find out more about the benefits of Smile in a Day same-day dental implants, how treatment can help you to have a more confident smile even if you smoke, and the award-winning dental implant care that we offer, book your free consultation* with one of our friendly Patient Advisors by calling 020 3553 6415.

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We aim to provide you with information that helps you make the best treatment decisions. In this section, we provide useful articles to answer the questions we are often asked, and tell you more about the award-winning TDC team.