We’ve talked about it before: smoking increases your risk of tooth loss, and can put your dental implants at risk. Many of the effects of smoking can be very long-term or even permanent, but will quitting smoking help preserve your teeth or make it so that your dental implants will properly integrate? A new study sheds light on that question.
Comparing Smokers, Quitters, and Never-Smokers
The study, recently published in the Journal of Dental Research compared the oral health records of about 24,000 individuals in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)–Potsdam. Participants in this study were recruited from 1994 to 1998, and they’ve been followed continuously since.
In this study, researchers looked at tooth loss among smokers, never-smokers, and people who used to smoke but quit to determine the risk of tooth loss associated with smoking. Unlike many studies, the researchers used tooth-specific regression models rather than just looking at the total tooth loss.
They found that heavy smokers, men under 50 who smoked 15 or more cigarettes a day, had three times the risk of tooth loss compared to never-smokers. Women were a little bit lower risk, about 2.5 times more likely to lose their teeth than never-smokers.
They also found that when people quit smoking, their risk of tooth loss immediately began to decrease. However, it was a long road back to normal tooth loss risk: 10 or 20 years before they were comparable to never smokers.
What about Your Dental Implants?
This study doesn’t specifically look at dental implants, but it’s likely the changes in risks are similar. Cigarette smoking leads to dental implant loss in a similar way that it contributes to tooth loss: through gum disease and bone damage. So if you’re a smoker looking to get dental implants, it’s best to quit smoking right away so that you can improve your dental implant success rate.