4 Ways Smoking Effects Your Oral HealthJanuary 21, 2021
When most of us think of the risks associated with smoking, we largely think about heart disease or lung disease. But smoking can be just as damaging to your oral health.
As the gateway to the rest of your body, your oral health significantly affects your general health, with the risks associated with smoking going well beyond stained teeth and bad breath.
Let’s take a look 4 ways cigarette smoking affects your oral health.
Effects Of Smoking On Your Oral Health
Smoking Discolours Your Teeth
While the effects of smoking on your heart, lungs, and other organs are more out-of-sight, smoking’s effect on your teeth is on display every time you speak and smile.
Many smokers succumb to a group of noticeable smoking effects commonly known as “smokers mouth”. One of the more obvious of these effects is the discoloration of teeth from the build-up of tar and nicotine that gets absorbed into the cracks and crevices of your enamel. This staining cannot be brushed away and often is a permanent fixture for smokers.
If you are a regular smoker, you will need regular teeth whitening treatments to maintain a white and bright smile.
Other aspects of smokers mouth include:
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Plaque and tartar build-up
- Mouth sores
- “Smokers tongue” – a condition that turns the tongue shades of grey or green sometimes with a hairy appearance.
Smoking Delays The Healing Process
Smoking can reduce the body’s ability to absorb oxygen which is needed for the body to effectively recover. If you want a cosmetic dental procedure or need dental surgery like a root canal, wisdom teeth removal, veneers, or dental implants, you may face a significantly longer recovery time and a much higher risk of infection.
Smoking Increases Chances Of Gum Disease
One of the most serious risks associated with smoking is periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease. As gum disease begins with bacteria growth on your teeth, anyone is at risk if they practice poor oral hygiene, however, smokers have a much higher risk than non-smokers.
Gum disease starts with the build-up of plaque and tartar on the teeth and gums known as gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis leads to inflammation, and then the separation of the gum from the teeth known as periodontitis. Periodontitis is especially dangerous for smokers, as cigarette chemicals more easily get beneath the gum line potentially causing infection and tooth loss.
Smoking Increases Your Risk Of Oral Cancer
The use of tobacco has been shown to increase the risk of several oral cancers including mouth cancer, lip cancer, throat cancer, and tongue cancer among many others.
According to the Australian Dental Association (ADA) “Every day, at least three Australians are being diagnosed with oral cancer; an insidious, aggressive disease with a survival rate of only 50% over 5 years.”
One of the early warning signs is a condition called Stomatitis Nicotina, commonly known as smokers keratosis which is a swelling of the mucous glands on the top of the mouth that shows up as thick white patches on the top of the mouth.
Other warning signs include:
- Persistent mouth sores
- Swelling or lumps around the mouth and throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sensation something is caught in your throat and won’t go away
Your dentist is your first line of defense against oral cancer and is trained to watch out for these warning signs. Scheduling regular dental checkups significantly increase the chance of early detection and successful treatment.
It’s important to reduce and eliminate cigarettes in order to maintain a healthy and happy smile. Scheduling regular checkups will help your dentist find ways to fight tooth decay and gum disease.