Bone Graft and Smoking: How Does This Effect the Healing Process?

Question:

Kathy asks:
Six weeks ago I had a bone graft (from my own bone) for a front lower tooth, that was pulled last year, to prepare for an implant. I quit smoking for almost 3 weeks, but did start again. I know I shouldn't smoke, but I also had some other serious upsets in my life which made it very hard for me to quit at this time. Anyway, my question is, how long does it take before the bone graft start to attach to your own bone or start to work or heal? Was the 3 week period that I was not smoking enough time for it to at least start to attach?

Answer:
Answered by: Aaron B. Carner, DMD

Greenwood, SC

Hi Kathy,

The short answer is that smoking can negatively affect bone healing at any stage. Generally in someone having a bone graft, the gum tissue heals faster than the bone. Most likely your gum tissue has healed over your bone graft and initial bone healing as occurred. However, 3 weeks is not enough time for the bone to heal as it usually takes months for bone to heal.

It is definitely better that you did not smoke during the fist 3 weeks but smoking does increase your risk of the bone graft failing and compromising what you have undergone so far in treatment.

I would recommend stopping smoking and discussing this with your surgeon right away. He may be able to give you other alternatives such as medications like Chantix or Nicorette gum or a patch to help you with your nicotine cravings.

Obviously not smoking again is best choice for your overall health, not only for your dental health or for the bone graft to heal well. Discuss smoking with your surgeon as soon as you can and I wish you the best in what you are undergoing in your life.



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