Smoking can impact your oral health. It is well known that people who smoke are at higher risk of developing various health problems. The mouth is the first one to be in contact with the cigarette rod, meaning that this is also the first place where all the harmful chemicals spread; with that said, it is no surprise that a smoker’s oral health fastly deteriorates with every act of inhaling.
The most common dental diseases caused by smoking tobacco, are:
1. Bad Breath
Perhaps the most notorious symptom of tobacco usage for both the smokers and the people around them. “Smokers breath” is usually caused by the low saliva production that happens when consuming cigarettes (saliva acts as a natural rinse in your mouth, so if there’s no saliva to wash down the smell, guess where it stays?).
Not only that: the smoke can also get trapped in your lungs, creating a build up that makes bad breath (or halitosis) stay for even longer. This condition can usually be seen in people who have been smoking for several years. In conclusion, “smokers breath” is caused by 3 main reasons:
- The chemicals from the tobacco itself
- An alteration to the mouth’s moisture (that causes dry mouth, hence the odor)
- Faster tartar buildup and bacteria proliferation due to the lack of saliva production
How can you get rid of cigarette breath? Stay hydrated, chew sugarless gum, brush your teeth regularly or go under a professional dental cleaning.
2. Gum Disease
Gum disease or periodontitis, is a condition that starts when bacteria, plaque and tartar accumulates under the gumline, causing an infection that can affect the bone structure that supports the teeth. This can make gums become red, swollen and bloody; if left untreated, it may even lead to tooth loss.
So, how is tobacco consumption related? Smoking weakens the immune system, making it difficult for your body to fight a gum infection; also, if the gum damage is already done, smoking makes healing harder. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), smokers are four times more likely to have advanced periodontal disease.
How can you prevent gum disease? By brushing your teeth regularly, flossing after every meal and, if you are already noticing some inflammation in the area, get a deep dental cleaning.
3. Darkened Teeth
Another noticeable consequence of smoking is discoloration on your teeth, which manifests in the form of stains that may be yellow, brown or even back, depending on the severity of the case.
The teeth’s surface is porous – as a result, anything you eat, drink or in this case, smoke, will be absorbed into them. Nicote, the primary chemical contained in cigarettes, is the leading cause of teeth staining; nicotine itself is colorless, but when combined with oxygen, it turns different shapes of yellow.
How to remove stains from teeth caused by smoking? The fastest solution would be to undergo a teeth whitening treatment, which can be done professionally in-office (with instant results) or with an at-home kit (with complete results after of application).
4. Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the world and is usually linked to alcohol and tobacco use, being males over the age of 40 the main population affected by this disease. The possibility of developing oral cancer depends on the duration and frequency of tobacco use and it can be manifested as cancer in the cheeks, gums, and inner surface of the lips.
Why does smoking cigarettes put you at such risk? Because some of the chemicals contained in tobacco cause genetic changes in cells of the mouth cavity, which can promote or initiate cancer. According to different studies, smoking tobacco (with cigarettes, pipes, or cigars) increases your chances of developing cancer by up to ten times, compared with non-smokers.
How to prevent oral cancer? The best solution involves two things: to quit smoking and to see your dentist for regular checkups.
5. Delayed Healing After Tooth Extractions
As we’ve talked before, smoking affects a patient’s immune system, which can make the healing process to be slower and prone to infections at the wound site after tooth extraction. The are two main reasons why a professional will ask you to stop smoking after a procedure like this, which are:
- The chemicals contained in tobacco stress your heart and affect blood pressure by reducing the amount of oxygen in it and other body tissues.
- The motion of sucking onto a cigarette to inhale is not good for an open wound, as it can cause more bleeding by dislodging newly formed blood clots (which are needed for the extraction site to properly heal).
How to heal faster after a tooth extraction? Avoid any activities that include a sucking motion, don’t eat greasy foods, and most importantly, quit smoking for at least 5 days after the tooth extraction, especially if you underwent surgery.
Although all we’ve talked so far may leave you worried, we are glad to say that there’s a positive side to everything! Oral diseases caused by smoking tobacco can be prevented or treated with various dental services. The first step is to attend regularly to your dentist, so that any abnormality can be detected on time. Call us today (858) 832 – 4027 or send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for more information or directly schedule an appointment.