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Smoking can cause dental implants to fail: study

If you've just gotten a dental implant, dental researchers advise you not to light up: smoking increases the risk of dental implant failure.

Spanish researchers studied 66 patients who received 165 implants and followed their progress for 5 years. The implant failure rate for smokers was 15.8 percent, compared to just 1.4 percent in nonsmokers.

"People who smoke are at greater risk of infection following surgery and may heal more slowly," said Dr. Arturo Sanchez Perez, a researcher at the University of Murcia in Spain. "When an implant is placed in a smoker, it is more likely to fail."

Implants are manufactured devices that are placed surgically in the upper or lower jaw, where they function as anchors for replacement teeth. Implants are made of titanium and other materials that are compatible with the human body.

Implant surgery can be done either in a dental office or in a hospital, depending upon a number of factors. A local or general anesthetic may be used. Usually pain medications and, when necessary, antibiotics are prescribed. Your dentist will give you instructions on diet and oral hygiene.

Because implants require surgery, patients must be in good health, have healthy gums, have adequate bone to support the implant and be committed to meticulous oral hygiene and regular dental visits. If you are considering implants, a thorough evaluation by your dentist will help determine if you would be a good candidate.

The American Dental Association offers information about dental implants, including an overview, frequently asked questions and more at "www.ada.org/public/topics/implants.asp". For more information about how smoking can affect oral health or how to quit tobacco, log on to "www.ada.org/public/topics/smoking_tobacco.asp".

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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