Does Smoking Impact Dental Implants?

Does Smoking Impact Dental Implants?

We are all aware of the negative health risks associated with smoking – heart disease, emphysema, lung cancer, etc. But if you plan to have dental implants, and want the best possible results,

We want to answer the question, does smoking impact dental implants?

As you might imagine, your mouth and lungs are on the front lines of the smoking “assault” on your oral health in these and other ways:

  • Inhaled smoke actually burns the oral tissues producing a thickening of the top layer of skin cells, and decreases the body’s ability to regenerate new tissue.
  • It also damages the salivary glands, resulting in mouth dryness, which promotes growth of disease-causing bacteria, increasing the risk of infection, while decreasing the effectiveness of antibiotics.
  • Smoking increases the risk of periodontal disease, oral cancer, root decay, delayed healing after oral surgery, and implant failure.

Dental implants are made of titanium and other materials compatible to the human body.  It has special surface properties that allow live bone to fuse with it.  The first three weeks after oral surgery is a critical time for healing. Your recovery will be delayed if you are smoking during this time, and you will have an increased risk of infection and early implant loss, especially when a bone graft has been incorporated.  Even when healing is complete, the environment in the mouth of a smoker is more dangerous, making implant failure a higher risk over time.

When you are considering dental implants, it’s important to know the good news — that 92% of all dental implant patients report complete success and long-term implant survival. Of the 8% that report dental implant failure, over half of those reporting were smokers.  A study in Spain showed that smokers with dental implants had a failure rate of almost 16% while non-smokers had only a 1.4% rate of failure.

So you might be wondering, how does smoking work to impact one’s healing process?  Whether it’s oral or any other kind of surgery, you may know that oxygen is a critical component to healing:

  1. Smoking increases the amount of carbon monoxide attached to hemoglobin in the blood, which has the effect of decreasing oxygen supply.
  2. Carbon monoxide makes the heart pump poorly, further decreasing the amount of oxygen that is delivered to the body.
  3. Nicotine increases the amount of oxygen that the body needs, meaning the oxygen supply is being compromised at the same time that more oxygen is being utilized.
  4. Nicotine and its by-products constrict blood vessels in the mouth and skin that are necessary to deliver oxygen and nutrients for effective healing.
  5. Less oxygenation to the skin, gums, and bone in people who smoke makes recovery slower.
  6. Because of restricted blood flow, smokers are two or three times as likely to have gum disease, usually more severe, and often weakening nearby teeth.

Another negative factor is the Polonium in tobacco products.  Polonium is said to be “the most carcinogenic substance known to man.”   Smoking causes additional exposure to it.

Studies have shown that within 12-24 hours of smoking cessation, there is a significant decrease in the effects of carbon monoxide in the body, and much of the nicotine in the bloodstream will be gone.  Unfortunately, a short-term cessation of smoking in terms of pulmonary effects, is not really enough, and at least four to six smoke-free weeks prior to oral surgery is needed to reach optimum risk reduction.

Patients who have been able to quit for ten weeks or more will have their risk reduced to almost the same level as patients who have never smoked.

However, even if you smoke, you still should consider implants to replace missing or failing teeth.  According to the American Dental Association (ADA), dental implants are one of the most important advances in dentistry during the past 40 years. Smoking will impact dental implants.

It is important to get the expert opinion of a knowledgeable and experienced implant specialist in Costa Rica to discuss a plan for your smoking cessation.  If you’re missing one or more teeth, dental implants are a great way to help you look and feel more confident.  Our dental experts at Costa Rica Dental Guide can help you decide whether implants are your best option, but keep in mind that smoking is also detrimental to conventional bridgework.

Implants are a good excuse to start a smoking-cessation program.  But if you think you can’t stop, at least stop smoking for one week before and two weeks after implant placement. And if even that is going to be too difficult for you, at least go on a smoking “diet”: restrict the number of cigarettes you smoke by 50% (we know you can do at least that much!).  Dental implants are a big investment, and we want to make sure that your dental implants succeed for a lifetime!


If you’d like to find a dentist or learn more about dental care in Costa Rica, please fill out the ‘Find a Dentist” form on this page. A qualified dental specialist will contact you to discuss your case. Our team of dentists and dental surgeons can help you understand what you need to learn about the risks and benefits associated with dental implants and smoking.

We’re here to help.