Alcohol can be a pleasurable indulgence, but when this indulgence happens too often and in considerable quantities, it can begin to affect your health on many levels. The ways in which alcohol can affect your teeth have been well-documented, and certain dental procedures can become more complex than they otherwise would have been. What does this mean when you need dental implants?
The Healing Process
The first few days after dental implant surgery are crucial in terms of alcohol consumption. Alcohol can have an extremely detrimental effect on the healing process. The surgery will have triggered an inflammatory response in your body, and alcohol can impair this response. It also can inhibit certain functions that your body will trigger in order to initiate the healing process, such as collagen production and angiogenesis (which is when new blood vessels develop from existing blood vessels). This is why you will be instructed to avoid alcohol for several days following your surgery. You shouldn't make a distinction between beverages with comparatively low alcohol content (such as beer) and beverages with higher alcohol content (such as spirits). No alcohol means no alcohol.
The way in which a dental implant stabilizes is a form of healing. This is called osseointegration and involves your jaw bone and soft tissues healing around the titanium alloy bolt implanted into your jaw, integrating it with your body. Failure to strictly follow your dentist's instructions pertaining to alcohol consumption (and indeed, all aftercare instructions) can prevent successful osseointegration, and this can ultimately result in implant failure.
Your Relationship with Alcohol
Most patients should be able to moderate their alcohol intake in line with their dentist's instructions. However, someone whose relationship with alcohol might be problematic may not be able to abstain. While consuming alcohol immediately after dental implant surgery will jeopardize the implant, there can be other long-term complications for long-term drinkers.
Blood Supply and Bones
Long-term drinkers may be at risk of a condition known as avascular necrosis, which is when blood supply to bones has been impeded to the extent that the bone tissue begins to die. This is because heavy alcohol consumption can lead to the excess formation of triglycerides in your bloodstream. These are a type of lipid (fat) and can block the small blood vessels supplying the blood flow to your bones. Avascular necrosis can affect the jaw, which in turn affects the stability of a dental implant. Dentists might be hesitant to perform dental implant surgery on a heavy drinker and might recommend an alternative tooth replacement system. It may also be possible (and certainly beneficial) for someone who has a problematic relationship with alcohol to take steps to address this problem prior to receiving a dental implant.
Light and moderate alcohol consumption won't affect a dental implant, but heavy alcohol consumption can. However, all alcohol must be avoided for several days after your implant surgery.
Reach out to a local dental surgeon to learn more about dental implants.