Losing a tooth, or multiple teeth, is an extremely traumatic experience. Whether you suffer tooth loss in conjunction with illness or injury, the loss can leave you with a gap in your smile that impacts not only your appearance and your confidence, but also your ability to eat and in some cases, speak normally.
The good news is that there are solutions to restore your smile, return functionality, improve your appearance, and boost your confidence following tooth loss. The gold standard of tooth replacement is the dental implant.
While options like dentures and bridges are also available, dental implants that permanently affix to the jaw via a titanium screw that bonds with your jaw bone are really the best. Dental implants look and act the most like your natural tooth, which means you can eat, drink, brush, floss, smile, and laugh normally, without any fear of displacing less permanent replacement teeth.
In addition, the fact that the base of the implant bonds with your jaw in place of the roots of your tooth helps to reduce common problems like jaw bone recession and preserve the shape of your jawline. Of course, you have to be tested to ensure you’re a good candidate for dental implants, and this can be impacted by the use of tobacco products.
Can smokers qualify for dental implants or will you have to quit smoking to proceed? Here’s what you need to know if you’re currently a smoker in need of a dental implant.
Can Smokers Get Dental Implants?
In order to qualify as a good candidate for dental implant procedures, patients must first exhibit optimal oral health. In some cases, such as when tooth loss is related to conditions like gingivitis or periodontitis, you may first have to undergo treatments to eliminate infection, including cleaning by the dentist (in some cases deep cleaning) and perhaps the use of antibiotics.
In addition, your jaw bone has to be strong and healthy enough to support and bond with the titanium screw. If your jaw bone is too thin, there’s a possibility you could augment it through a bone graft procedure in preparation for the dental implant procedure. With or without such preparations, it could be at least several months or longer before the implant procedure is complete and you have your new tooth (crown) in place.
As for smokers, there are further complications. Tobacco use has been found to cause problems in all kinds of therapeutic oral procedures, including the installation of dental implants. Unfortunately, studies have shown that smokers are at higher risk of implant failure than non-tobacco users. As a result, many dentists won’t even offer this procedure to patients who persist in smoking or other forms of tobacco use.
There are several good reasons to quit smoking – chiefly to reduce risk factors for certain cancers, heart disease, and other diseases, of course, but also to improve lung function and overall health. Smoking also takes its toll on oral health.
You’re probably well aware of the fact that tobacco use can stain your teeth and cause bad breath, but it can also have more serious ramifications. It causes dry mouth, which results in less flushing by saliva, growth of bacteria, plaque, and tartar, and increased risk for the onset of gum disease and tooth decay.
Tobacco products, and particularly cigarettes, also inhibit your mouth’s ability to heal. When you inhale smoke, you singe the top layer of skin in your mouth, causing skin cells to thicken. Nicotine and other toxins also inhibit blood flow to tissues in the mouth, impacting healing.
This increases recovery following oral procedures, increases the risks for infection, and jeopardizes the process of osseointegration, by which the titanium screw implant bonds with your jaw bone to form needed support for your new false tooth. Studies show that smokers experience twice the failure rate for dental implants as non-smokers.
If you want the best opportunity to replace your missing tooth with a dental implant that lasts 20 years or more, you’re going to have to quit smoking to increase your odds of success. In truth, you may have to quit just to find a reliable dental professional willing to offer the service.
Whether you need to replace a missing tooth or you’re seeking cleaning or other dental services, you’ll find the caring and qualified dental professionals to serve your needs
Dental implants represent one of the most significant advances in modern dentistry. In the past, the only options available to those with missing teeth were dentures or bridges, each of which carry significant problems of their own. In contrast, dental implants provide an aesthetically pleasing and downright comfortable solution for those missing teeth due to injury or tooth decay. But what are they and how to they work? To answer that question, here are some ways dental implants can repair your smile.
1. The Good Stuff
Dental implants have the appearance and feel of normal teeth, lending an extra boost of self-confidence. Those accustomed to hiding their smile due to a large gap caused by a missing tooth, or because of teeth riddled with decay will feel comfortable smiling with dental implants. However, the advantages are not merely cosmetic.
Dental implants make eating and speaking much easier than dentures or bridges. This is because the dental implant procedure involves a titanium post that is secured into the jaw and holds the tooth in place much like a natural root. This means that unlike dentures, implants won’t loosen, allowing the patient to eat and chew their food as they would with a full set of teeth. Beyond that, dental implants offer significant oral health benefits, prevent bone resorption, and are much easier to clean than bridges (which are notoriously difficult due to their placement atop other teeth).
2. Prevention of Bone Loss
In addition to replacing missing or decaying teeth, dental implants also prevent the loss of jawbone tissue while guarding against further bone loss. As mentioned earlier, this is because dental implants replicate the functionality of a tooth root.
3. Success Rates
Not surprisingly, dental implants have greater longevity than bridges or dentures. And the technology is only continuing to improve. However, keep in mind that the best candidates for dental implants are those in good health. For the procedure to work as intended, it is crucial that the jawbone be able to grow around the implant. This process is called osseointegration. After it is successfully installed, the implant will function like a normal tooth, providing adequate stimulation to the jawbone and exhibiting typical regeneration.
4. Proper Care
In order for an implant to be successful, the patient must have good oral health habits. This means brushing and flossing teeth twice per day with a mechanical or interdental toothbrush capable of traversing between teeth with ease. It also means visiting the dentist on a regular basis, or every six months. This way they can make sure the implant remains in good condition for years to come. Proper care also means no chewing on hard foods. So say goodbye to the days of hard candy and ice, each of which can cause significant damage to both crowns and normal teeth.
5. I Don’t Have Enough Bone, Can I Still Get an Implant?
As mentioned above, the dental implant procedure requires a significant amount of jawbone in order to be successful. Unfortunately, those who have had untreated tooth loss or problems with their dentures are likely already experiencing degeneration of the jawbone. While not ideal, this does not stop those with jawbone loss from receiving implants. In fact, implants can still be installed after a bone graft or sinus lift, depending on where the bone has grown soft. A bone graft is required when the jawbone is too thin, while a sinus lift is required when the bone in the upper jaw or sinuses is too close to the jaw itself.
6. Prepare for the Cost
Unfortunately more and more insurance companies refuse to cover the costs of a dental implant, rendering the overall cost of the procedure much more expensive. How expensive? Implants can cost anywhere between $1000 and $2000 per tooth, and that doesn’t include the cost of the crown. However, don’t let cost be a deterrent. Few things are as socially and functionally important as a healthy smile, and there are still plenty of options in terms of financial assistance.
Those with unanswered questions about implants should consult their dentist prior to making any commitments to the procedure. That way any potential problems can be identified and dealt with prior to the installation.
In case you didn’t know, our mouths are full of bacteria, and at times it can get out of control. Often, we can keep it in check with a daily regimen of brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash, paired with regular dental visits. If bacteria start to build up on teeth or under the gum line, however, infection can spread, leading to issues like cavities, gum disease, and in severe cases, infected pulp inside the tooth that requires a root canal.
A root canal treatment is a procedure by which a dentist drills into your tooth to reach the pulp, removes the soft tissue and sanitizes the canals, and finally, fills and seals the tooth to protect against further infection. Dentists work hard to ensure that patients feel no discomfort during the procedure, and the treatment could help to save an infected tooth, which can survive even without pulp.
Of course, you first need a diagnosis that your pulp is infected, and this requires a visit to the dentist. How do you know if you need to see your dentist outside of your regular schedule of cleanings? How can you tell if something is wrong? Here are just a few common signs that you might need a root canal treatment.
The pulp of your tooth is soft tissue under the hard, outer layers of dentin and enamel. Pulp contains blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerves, and when it becomes infected, eventually it’s going to cause you pain.
Many patients will start to notice sensitivity first, but they might not think much of it. As we age, it’s natural to develop some sensitivity to cold or hot liquids, or when biting down on hard foods, for example. This is because enamel can weaken over time. However, infection is something different. If you notice sensitivity localized to one tooth, there’s a good chance you have some form of infection, either from a cavity or infected pulp.
If this condition goes untreated, you will probably start to feel more severe pain. This could be an ongoing ache, shooting pains when you bite down on the tooth, or both. As the infection advances, you might start to feel pain around the gum line and even the jaw where the tooth sits. Any time you experience unusual tooth pain, it’s best to contact your dentist to schedule an examination.
An infected tooth will impact surrounding tissues, namely the gum tissue in direct contact with the tooth. If you notice that gum tissue surrounding a particular tooth becomes red, swollen, and tender, it could be a sign that you’re in need of a root canal, whether you’ve started to notice sensitivity or pain in the tooth or not. It could also be a sign of gum disease, in which case you also need to see your dentist, but gum disease more often affects a large swath of gum tissue, rather than centering on a specific tooth.
3. Gum abscesses
Infection in the mouth will spread, often to the nearest tissue first. Swollen, tender gums are a side effect of the infection in your tooth, and there will be further problems if you
don’t seek treatment. As the infection progresses, you might start to notice painful, pimple-like spots on the affected gum tissue. These abscesses are filled with fluid and they may leak pus that smells and tastes bad.
Naturally, the appearance of such abscesses should be cause for concern at any time. When paired with other symptoms of infected pulp, such as sensitivity and pain in one tooth, you should definitely seek professional help and undergo a root canal and related treatment (like a course of antibiotics) if necessary.
4. Tooth discoloration
It’s true that tooth discoloration could be related to a number of factors. Drinking beverages like coffee or soda, smoking, and taking certain medications (like tetracycline) could all cause teeth to become discolored. Of course, the chances that these factors will affect only a single tooth are pretty slim.
However, when the pulp of the tooth becomes infected and eventually starts to die, it could cause surrounding dentin to begin decomposing, as well. This portion of the tooth will begin to visibly darken, causing your tooth to become discolored.
When this happens, your tooth is likely in pretty bad shape, and if you take no action, you risk losing the tooth. Whether you’re experiencing unusual sensitivity or tooth pain, swelling and tenderness of the gums, gum abscesses, tooth discoloration, or other symptoms of infected pulp, you need to see your dentist immediately for diagnosis and treatment.