I’m a life-long smoker. I started when I was eleven and haven’t stopped since. I smoke about three packs a day. My teeth are seriously stained. I’ve also lost a couple of teeth due to gum disease. I’m considering just pulling the rest of them and getting implants so I can have a decent smile. But my sister said smokers can’t get dental implants. Is that true?
You’re in a tough spot. However, I’m going to try to help. The absolute first thing that has to be dealt with is your gum disease. That is the reason your teeth are falling out. It also tells me your gum disease is fairly advanced. Without healing your periodontal disease, you will lose your dental implants for the same reason you’re losing your teeth. You won’t have enough support to keep them implanted.
Let’s fast-forward and pretend you’ve worked on getting your gums beautiful and healthy. You never want to remove healthy teeth. Even with damaged or infected teeth, you’ll want to fight to keep them. Trust me when I tell you that saving as much tooth structure as possible is in your best benefit.
Now we need to deal with the missing teeth and the stains. Before you get any permanent replacement teeth, you’ll want to whiten all your remaining teeth. Once your implant crowns are made, there is no way to change the color without completely re-doing the crowns. Get your teeth whitened first, then the implants can be made to match your fresh, new white color.
Dental Implants and Smoking
You’re likely going to find many dentists who’ll refuse to place dental implants on heavy smokers. The reason for that is they have a high likelihood of failing. Smokers have much higher than normal instances of gum disease, as you’ve discovered yourself.
One of the reasons for that is it reduces that amount of blood flow in your gums. This hinders the healing process, which often leads to dental implant failure. With the requirement of surgery and such a great expense, it may not be worth it to you, especially considering the amount of smoking you do.
Dental Implant alternatives
Once your gum disease is healed, you may consider a dental bridge. Then, as you’re able to cut down on your smoking, you can get dental implants. I wouldn’t do more than a two-unit bridge though, even after you’re healed, because it puts too much pressure on your adjacent teeth.
While you will likely be able to find a dentist who’d be willing to give you the dental implants, be careful. If they do so without warning you about the high likelihood of failure, then they’re just in it for the money.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Fred Arnold.