Losing your teeth can feel devastating but with dental implants, it feels like you’ve earned a second chance at oral health. Dental implants are not only the best solution for missing teeth, but they’re the most comfortable, secure, and natural feeling tooth replacement solution. Once you have them, you will wonder why you wasted time without them before.

To help you enjoy all the benefits dental implants have to offer for as long as possible, we strongly encourage you to avoid certain bad habits. Bad habits like smoking can contribute to implant failure and thus cause you to lose your implants. Learn which bad habits you should avoid with dental implants.

male's hands holding a cigarette between his fingers

1. Smoking

One of the top bad habits you should avoid when you get dental implants is smoking. Firstly, smoking can interrupt the healing process after implant surgery. Nicotine reduces blood flow to the soft tissue which interrupts the healing process. Smoking impairs osseointegration (where the bone surrounds the implant) and causes the entire treatment to heal improperly. Additionally, if you need a bone graft prior to implant placement, smoking can also affect the healing process of the bone graft. A successful bone graft is necessary to ensure your dental implants survive. With an impaired healing process, the long-term success of dental implants suffers.

Not only does smoking cause issues with healing, but it can also contribute to periodontal disease. Smoking causes dry mouth which means plaque and bacteria are staying in the mouth longer than usual which is a major contributor to gum disease. Gum disease can then cause destruction to the jaw bone which is necessary for holding implants in place.

2. Drinking Alcohol

Another bad habit that can eventually lead to implant failure is drinking alcohol. Not only can alcohol consumption result in oral cancer but it can also do a number of damage to your gums. For instance, when you drink alcohol, it inhibits blood flow to your gums. So if you’re drinking it after implant surgery, your gums and bone won’t heal and instead, they may suffer irreversible damage. Alcohol also reduces the number of white blood cells which can inhibit your body’s ability to fight bacterial infections. Alcohol also impairs the production of proteins your body uses during the healing process.

In addition to harming the healing process after implant surgery, alcohol can contribute to dry mouth and dehydration which can lead to gum disease. In the end, alcohol should be avoided while you heal from implant surgery and then only drank in moderation thereafter.

3. Using Your Teeth as Tools or Chewing on Hard Objects

Just because you no longer have real teeth doesn’t mean you should treat them any differently. This means that you only use your teeth for eating, not for anything else. For instance, if you were to use your teeth to rip open packages, or bite your fingernails, they will experience pressure that they shouldn’t. Just like you shouldn’t use your teeth as tools, you also shouldn’t chew on hard objects like ice, hard candy, or fingernails.

The excess pressure can then lead to implant failure in addition to the damage to the crown, bridge, or denture.

4. Overindulging in Sugar

A high sugar diet causes more bacteria in the mouth and if you’re not properly brushing and flossing regularly, it can result in gum disease. As you know from before, gum disease can result in bone loss which can cause implant failure. For best results, stick to a healthy diet and eat sugary foods and drinks in moderation. Your implants and heart will thank you.

5. Not Brushing or Flossing

You might not have real teeth but brushing them is still just as important. Brushing helps remove plaque, bacteria, and food debris from your teeth and mouth. Brushing twice a day is one of the best ways you can prevent bad breath, gum disease, and ensure your implants and restorations extend their lifespan. In addition, even with dental implants, you should still continue to floss! Whether you still have a few natural teeth left or just implants, it’s important to floss around the implant to ensure no bacteria lingers. Many patients prefer using a water flosser after getting dental implants because they’re easier to navigate.

6. Eating Popcorn

As much as you love this buttery, salty snack, it can actually lead to implant failure. Biting an unpopped kernel can create damaging forces on an implant (or even natural teeth) and the shells have been known to become lodged under the gumline, causing damage below the surface of the gum. While an occasional indulgence is fine, routine consumption of popcorn can affect implants. Make sure to eat your popcorn in small amounts and pay attention to unpopped kernels.

7. Putting Off Dental Appointments

Even if you have no remaining natural teeth, you still need to visit your Rochester dentist regularly. During these appointments, your dentist will remove plaque and tartar and examine your mouth for any signs of gum disease or harm to your dental implants. The best way to prevent implant failure is to address problems in their earliest stages.

If you’re not up to date to date on dental appointments or you’re interested in learning more about dental implants, please contact Contemporary Dentistry to schedule an appointment with one of our Rochester, NY dentists. Please call (585) 244-3337 to get started.