If you’re partial to a glass of wine or beer every now and then, you’re not alone. According to a recent Gallup poll, 63% of Americans drink alcohol.
In moderation, your favourite drink can be a good way to relax after a long week. Some evidence even suggests that alcohol is good for the heart and circulatory system when taken in small amounts.
But what if you’re considering an implant-based tooth restoration? What’s the deal between alcohol and dental implants?
Let’s find out.
Oral surgeons suggest that if you are considering implant surgery, alcohol will affect the outcome, But how?
The most crucial aspect of any dental implant procedure is bone fusion (osseointegration). This process ensures the implant and bone become one.
When an implant is first placed, it’s secured into the jaw but isn’t stable enough to support a dental crown or the ability for normal chewing – hence the initial dietary restrictions. However, over time, the bone tissue fuses with the implant, and in doing so, it creates a super-strong foundation or platform that eventually becomes part of the mouth.
Typically, bone fusion takes around 3-5 months to complete. However, like smoking, alcohol affects this process.
Essentially, alcohol slows down bone fusion by altering the metabolic makeup of bone tissue. It does so by impairing the proliferation of osteoblasts - cells responsible for new bone regeneration - while increasing osteoclastic activity – the function responsible for bone resorption.
The result is a disrupted process that can lead to implant failure.
The second link or association between alcohol and dental implants is that it has a drying effect on the body, including the mouth. Saliva is your mouth’s best friend. It moistens the mouth for comfort, rinses away bad bacteria, and speeds up wound healing.
When little or no saliva is present, it impinges upon proper healing. A dehydrated mouth can also lead to heightened sensitivity in the area. All in all, not a pleasant experience.
Alcohol is known to alter the structure of blood by decreasing hemoglobin levels, a protein responsible for carrying oxygen. Because oxygen is critical for many aspects of wound healing, a lack of it would prevent wounds from healing quickly while increasing the susceptibility to infection.
In addition, alcohol also thins the blood, which may prevent a blood clot from forming at the implant site. A clot is essential for healing because it acts like a barrier, protecting the area from bacteria.
As well as decreasing oxygen, alcohol also increases the fat content (lipids) naturally found in the bloodstream. As a result, blood vessels can become clogged or blocked. This is known as Avascular Necrosis (AVN). When a blockage occurs at a vascular level, other essential nutrients used to aid implant healing cannot reach the implant site, and therefore, the bone supporting the implant eventually dies.
In one study, a patient suffered a failed dental implant after drinking alcohol just one day after implant placement.
Now we know what the negative connotations between alcohol and dental implants are, does this mean you should abstain completely?
Well, yes, and no.
If you are an occasional drinker who likes the odd glass of wine or beer, you will be instructed to quit drinking - certainly during the surgical and healing phases of the implant process. However, after the implant has fully stabilized, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy an occasional drink.
But what about heavy drinking?
We know that excessive alcohol consumption can have a negative impact on the metabolic makeup and supply of blood. Over time, heavy drinking can contribute to dental implant failure, even several years later.
In other words, excessive alcohol consumption and dental implants don’t mix, ever!
Therefore, if you are a heavy drinker – In the US, that’s 8 drinks or more per week for women and 15 drinks or more for men, you would need to consider whether dental implants are the best option.
If you are considering an implant-based restoration, following any post-surgical guidelines to the letter is vital, including drinking alcohol. During an initial consultation, Dr Akinwande will discuss the procedure, including what you should and shouldn’t do after surgery, so you can decide whether dental implants are right for you.
To learn more, contact our practice at 314-936-3621 or book a free dental consultation today.