Although the number of smokers had steadily declined in the past few decades, over 30 million Americans still smoke cigarettes . Smoking increases your risk for many different chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease, and is one of the leading preventable causes of death worldwide. Cigarettes can cause tooth discoloration and increase your risk for oral cancer and gum disease, but did you know that smoking can also impact your dental procedures?
Here’s how smoking could jeopardize your chances of healing at the dentist’s office.
Higher Risk for Complications
Tobacco use has been shown to affect the success of almost all procedures performed in the oral cavity . What this means is that you have a higher risk for complications after any dental procedure, from tooth extractions to root canals. For instance, although dental implants have a very high success rate, smokers are more likely to experience infections and even dental implant failure, the risk of which is “considerably higher among smokers”. For some people who smoke, the complications following a dental procedure could mean the procedure needs to be reversed and other treatment options pursued.
Slower Healing After Procedures
After an oral procedure such as a tooth extraction, dental implant placement, or treatment for gum disease, your body needs time to properly heal. While everyone goes through a healing period following a procedure, smokers experience slower healing after a tooth extraction or another surgery to their oral cavity .
Not only does smoking cause your blood vessels to narrow, which can restrict the flow of blood and the nutrients it brings to the wound, but research also shows that smoking suppresses your body’s natural immune response, preventing it from healing like it should . This can result in a higher risk for infections and other complications.
You May Experience More Pain
Research shows that smokers experience more pain following a dental procedure than non- smokers . But why is this? In people who smoke, their immune system isn’t able to initiate a proper healing response. Not only does this result in a slower healing time, but it also means swelling, infection, and bleeding are all more common among smokers after an oral procedure.
All of these complications can increase your level of pain, and will likely require further treatment from your dentist after your procedure.
Need Help to Stop Smoking?
With any oral procedure, dentists advise that you stop smoking for a period of time both before and after the procedure so your body can properly heal. If you still smoke or use tobacco, ask your dentist during your next appointment about quitting. Your oral healthcare professional can provide you with some helpful resources to kick the habit once and for all and protect your smile from the consequences of smoking!