How Does Alcohol Affect Dental Implant Success?

Sep 30, 2022
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Patients are commonly told that alcohol can affect the success of dental implants. But what exactly does this mean and do you have to stop drinking alcohol altogether. Read on to learn more.

Dental implant surgery, like many other surgical procedures, has an impact on what you can eat and drink. This includes cutting back on alcohol consumption during the post-operative care period and in the longer term.

Alcohol is a toxin and, when consumed in excess or at the wrong time, can negatively affect oral health and increase the risk of dental implant complications.

This article will look at the relationship between alcohol and dental wellness. First of all, what is a “normal” amount of alcohol?

What Is A "Normal" Amount Of Alcohol?

Moderate drinking can be considered a normal part of a healthy lifestyle. Problems occur with regular excessive drinking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), moderate alcohol consumption is no more than one drink a day for a woman and two drinks a day for a man. One drink is calculated as 14 grams (.6 fl oz) of pure alcohol.

Alcohol and Oral Health

Drinking alcohol causes the kidneys to expel more water than usual, which leads to dehydration. One consequence of this is a decrease in the flow of saliva, which leads to dry mouth. Once this happens, periodontitis is more likely to occur. This disease is characterized by gum recession, plaque, bleeding gums and infection. Other oral consequences of excessive alcohol consumption include tooth loss.

Alcohol and Dental Implants

Your dental implants are at their most vulnerable to alcohol during the first few days after the procedure. That´s because drinking alcohol right after placement can impact your body's normal healing response.

When your gum is healing, the body is rebuilding things that were damaged or lost, such as blood vessels, bone cells, skin and collagen. Alcohol delays some of the body's healing signals, especially with regard to blood vessel formation. It can also trigger something called avascular necrosis (AVN), which is when bone begins to die. Developing AVN after dental implants is rare, but it can happen.

Not only can alcohol delay wound healing, but it can also interfere with prescribed painkillers and antibiotics, rendering them less effective.

Other problems caused by alcohol after getting dental implants are:

Alcohol dehydrates oral tissues - dry mouth after dental implant surgery can be very painful. Also, reduced saliva consumption means that bacteria aren’t being flushed away as they would normally be. This creates the perfect conditions for infections.

Alcohol and increased pain - many people believe that drinking alcoholic beverages can soothe post-surgical discomfort/pain. However, they often have the opposite effect. Alcohol can dilate blood vessels which will make your gums more sensitive than usual.

Alcohol can change the pH balance in the mouth - drinking alcohol can lead to an overly acidic oral environment. Upsetting the natural pH balance can make the mouth more prone to inflammation, infection and disease.

Alcohol affects vitamin and mineral absorption - your body needs adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals before and after dental implant surgery. However, alcohol reduces vitamin and mineral absorption, which can slow down osseointegration. This is the natural process where bone cells fuse with the implant material so they cannot be separated (unless there is a fracture due to injury/trauma).

How Long Should I Wait Before Drinking Alcohol Again?

Your dentist will advise you to refrain from drinking alcohol for at least the first 72 hours after your implant procedure. During this period, you should be resting to create the optimum conditions for your gum and jaw to heal.

Alcohol Consumption and Long-Term Dental Implant Health

Once your dental implants are fully healed, you may still be at risk if you consume a lot of alcoholic beverages. Heavy drinking is bad news for dental implants because, over long periods, it can lead to significant bone loss, especially in the jaw. And since the long-term success of implants relies on a healthy jaw, alcohol can put paid to your dreams of having a healthy smile. This doesn't mean you have to abstain; it just means drinking a safe amount following guidelines such as those issued by the CDC.

Tips on Cutting Down

If you're looking to cut down on alcohol consumption, here are a few helpful tips:

  • Create a plan. Give yourself a limit on how much you'll drink in any given week.
  • Start a drink diary. Note how much alcohol you’re drinking, what you're drinking and who you're drinking with. This will give you insights into your habits.
  • Set a budget that limits the amount of money you spend on alcohol.
  • Let friends and family members know that you're going to cut down. It's important that they support you and don't put temptation in your path.
  • Consider having lower-strength drinks. For example, swapping strong beers for weaker ones.
  • Have smaller drinks. Instead of downing pints of beer, try bottled varieties.
  • Stay hydrated. Have a glass of water to quench your thirst before an alcoholic drink.
  • Have at least a couple of dry days weekly where you don't touch alcohol.
  • Take it one day at a time. Cut back a little each day and reach your cutting down goal gradually.

Have Any Questions Before Your Dental Implant Procedure?

At Chesterfield Dentistry, we know that choosing to restore your smile with dental implants is a big decision, and you most likely have lots of questions. We take great pride in providing a caring customized approach to each client and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and find out more about dental implant surgery.