Dental implants have been around for a while but it hasn’t been until recently that they really gained traction as the preferred tooth replacement treatment. If you wear dental implants you know how wonderful they are – there’s no better way to replace lost teeth!

At Panama City Smiles we’ve placed a lot of dental implants for our patients. We’ve seen countless people express amazement at the outcome of their treatment and nothing makes us happier! We want that treatment satisfaction to last for life, and that’s why we want to warn you about the number one risk factor for dental implant loss: smoking!

How Does Smoking Affect The Mouth?

If you smoke you’re probably aware of how bad it is for you. Smokers suffer from a lot of potential illnesses and those illnesses happen in the mouth too! Smoking raises the risk of two serious conditions that can cause loss of dental implants. Together they are known as peri-implant diseases.

Smoking increases the risk of these diseases by changing the bacteria content in your mouth. Your mouth is full of bacteria that exists in the form of plaque. Some of the bacteria is harmless and other strains have the potential to do a lot of damage. When harmful bacteria metabolizes sugars in the foods you eat it creates acids that eat away at your teeth, gums, and bone!

Studies of the mouths of smokers have indicated a startling trend: the bacterial makeup is so different that it’s almost as if the mouth if completely filled with harmful bacteria! It’s that bacteria that causes peri-implant diseases and the more of it that’s present the greater the chance for serious infection!

What Are Peri-Implant Diseases?

Are you familiar with gum disease? Basically, gum disease occurs when harmful bacteria makes it below your gumline. Once there it can spread unchecked, causing irritation, inflammation, and eventual bone and tooth loss!

Peri-implant diseases are essentially the same thing, only when it happens around implants instead of teeth. Unfortunately the outcomes can be largely the same too: complete loss of an implant and crown!

Peri-Implant Mucositis: Stage 1

This stage is similar to gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. At this point you’ll notice redness, swelling, color change, and bleeding from your gums when you brush. This happens because the bacteria that made it below your gumline has started infecting and irritating your gums.

At this stage there usually isn’t much permanent damage and we can treat and reverse any harm that’s come to your gums using a technique known as scaling and root planing. Using a series of instruments we’ll go below your gumline and remove harmful bacteria. Treatment usually only takes about an hour and is really easy!

Peri-Implantitis

This is where things start to get serious. If you’re familiar with gum disease you probably know that a serious case means that bone and teeth start to get eaten away by bacteria. In peri-implantitis there isn’t any tooth to be eaten and that isn’t good news for your bone!

Peri-implantitis is the stage at which bone loss begins. Once you reach this point there’s often too much damage to reverse at our Panama City office and you’ll need to see an oral surgeon! Left untreated you will lose your dental implant – it’s only a matter of time!

Prevent The Loss Of Your Implant Investment!

The first step in lessening your risk for peri-implant disease is to stop smoking! Over time the bacteria levels in your mouth will re-equalize and leave you much safer but it’s up to you to make that leap!

You also need to practice good oral hygiene habits! Brushing twice a day for at least two minutes and flossing every night is essential to preventing peri-implant disease! You should also be sure you’re seeing us for regular exams and cleanings. Even if you don’t have any remaining natural teeth we still need to take care of your implants!

If you’re concerned you might be suffering from peri-implant disease don’t wait another day. Call Panama City Smiles today at (850) 588-0185 or request an appointment by filling out our online form. We look forward to seeing you soon!