You’ve probably heard about the effects smoking has on your health. It’s pretty well understood that smoking cigarettes, cigars, a pipe, or using smokeless tobacco is bad for your health, and having dental implants doesn’t make you immune to the oral health risks!
We place countless dental implants at New Albany Implants – it’s in our name! We always encourage patients who are smokers to break the habit for their health, and that includes their mouths! Dental implants might not be at risk for tooth decay but they are at risk for conditions very similar to gum disease! If you smoke and have dental implants you’re at risk to lose them completely!
Smoking, Dental Implants, And Bacteria: The Problem
Your mouth contains a lot of bacteria – that might sound gross but it’s a fact! We all live with oral bacteria in the form of plaque: the sticky white residue that builds up on your teeth. That plaque contains lots of different kinds of bacteria, some harmless and others that produce teeth-destroying acids!
Recent studies have shown that the mouths of smokers are much lower in the neutral or good bacteria and incredibly high in the bad stuff. That’s right – smoking actually kills the bacteria that doesn’t hurt you!
This poses a problem for your natural teeth and your implants. When plaque bacteria (the bad kind) gets ahold of the sugars in your food they produce those dangerous acids we talked about. Those acids eat away at your enamel and cause serious inflammation of your gums! Your dental implants might not be subject to decay but your gums and jawbone are still just a susceptible to damage!
What Can Happen?
The conditions that are caused by bacteria around dental implants is very similar to gingivitis and gum disease. Just like how gingivitis is the earlier stage of gum disease there are two names that are used to describe the same condition in relation to dental implants: peri-implant mucositis and peri-implantitis.
When bacteria gets below your gumline near a dental implant it has a great place to spread without your ability to stop it by brushing and flossing. Bacteria causes serious irritation to your gums, causing them to become inflamed and eventually recede and pull away from your teeth.
When your gums pull away from your teeth they start to form pockets that allow even more bacteria to become trapped! This is the peri-implant mucositis phase, which can cause bleeding gums, red gums, and gums that look puffy and irritated.
Once peri-implant mucositis has been around for a while and the bacteria has had time to make things worse you end up with peri-implantitis. The major difference here is a very critical one: you start losing the bone that supports your dental implant! You’ll also be experiencing the same inflammation and discomfort in your gums as before but the added loss of bone can potentially cause you to lose your dental implant!
Treating Peri-Implant Mucositis And Peri-Implantitis
If identified and treated in time it is possible to stop both conditions before they become severe. In the case of peri-implant mucositis, like with gingivitis, we can often stop damage and reverse the problems!
It becomes a bit more complicated with peri-implantitis. Unlike gum disease it’s much harder for peri-implantitis to respond to conventional treatments like scaling and root planing. Even deeper, more intense treatments can often fail to restore the lost bone and damage to the stability of your dental implant!
When it comes to reversing the damage of peri-implantitis many patients are only left with one option: regenerative oral surgery. This involves the use of bone grafts or other bone regeneration therapies – and expensive and unnecessary treatment!
The most effective ways to treat peri-implant mucositis and peri-implantitis are simple: good oral hygiene, healthy eating habits, and most of all – smoking cessation! By quitting smoking now you could be preventing damage to your dental implant, which was an investment in your long-term oral health that you probably don’t want to ruin!
Help Us Help You!
If you’re concerned that you may be showing some of the early stages of peri-implant diseases don’t hesitate to contact our New Albany dentist office today! You can reach us at (812) 945-7645 or you can request an appointment right here online! We look forward to helping you keep your teeth and dental implants healthy for life!