Are E-Cigarettes Safer For Dental Implants?

Are E-Cigarettes Safer For Dental Implants?

In January, the FDA announced its intention to begin regulating e-cigarettes, but as tobacco products, and not as drug delivery systems, which some had feared. The FDA is currently receiving commentary from people in the industry and related fields before it makes the final rules, but in the meantime it notes that there are many things we don’t know about e-cigarettes, including:


  • Potential risks of e-cigarettes
  • How much nicotine and other chemicals the devices deliver
  • Whether e-cigarettes offer any benefits over conventional cigarettes

Another thing we don’t know about e-cigarettes is what impact they may have on dental implants. Traditional smoking leads to increased risk of dental implant failure, but will e-cigarettes do the same?

How Smoking Leads to Dental Implant Failure

One of the ways that smoking leads to dental implant failure is that it impairs the body’s ability to grow bone. Instead of creating actual bone, the body sometimes makes soft, fibrous tissue around the dental implant.

Smoking also increases your risk of gum disease. Just as this is the leading cause of tooth loss, it’s also the primary reason why dental implants fail.

What This Means for E-Cigarette Safety

E-cigarettes are a relatively simple mechanism. They contain a small chamber with liquid in it that is vaporized by a small heating and aerosol unit. The liquid could contain many things. Most often, it contains nicotine, some flavoring, and propylene glycol, which makes the liquid look more like smoke (it’s commonly used in stage smoke). Nicotine is also found in tobacco smoke, along with thousands of other chemicals.

So the key question here is whether nicotine or those thousands of other chemicals are to blame for dental implant problems. As far as the bone problem, it had been thought, based on animal studies, that nicotine wasn’t related. However, new research seems to show that nicotine interferes with stem cells changing into bone cells.

This also goes along with other studies that show that nicotine contributes to increased gum disease risk for smokers.

In other words, it doesn’t seem like e-cigarettes are likely to be better for dental implants than tobacco ones.

The Best Move Is to Quit

If you’re looking for ways to preserve your smoking habit without suffering the ill-consequences, you’ll likely be disappointed. If you want to make your health a priority, including your chance of having good results from your dental implant procedure, it’s best to quit smoking altogether and not look for cigarette replacements. Like the new dental implant surface treatment, e-cigarettes may provide some benefit, but it’s not the same as quitting smoking.

If you would like to talk more about dental implants and whether you are a good candidate, please contact Dr. Lance Timmerman in Seattle today.

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