Effects of Smoking on your oral health

Dr.Saket Gaurav
B.D.S.(India), PGD.Ortho, PGDAD(Cosmetic)
International Dental Practitioner

Most often while watching television programs or movies or on the tobacco products we get to see the warning messages concerning their health effects. They have been implemented in an effort to enhance the public’s awareness of the harmful effects of smoking. Warning like Smoking can kill, Smoking seriously harms you and others around you, Cigarettes causes lung cancer, Smoking can lead to blood circulation disorders and causes impotence, This product can cause mouth cancer etc. In general, warnings used in different countries try to emphasize the same messages. You have most likely heard several times again and again that smoking and chewing tobacco products can have a serious impact on your oral health. But what does smoking actually do to your mouth and oral health? Reasons why smoking is one of the most destructive habits when it comes to your oral health and the serious health risks that come with it.

Oral cancer– Tobacco products such as cigarettes, pipes, chewing tobacco, and others are highly carcinogenic. The chemicals found in these products have been cited as a leading cause of many cancers affecting mouth, lip, tongue, gums and throat. There are numerous chemicals found in tobacco smoke, including several known to cause cancer. Oral cancer is especially dangerous in those who have it are unaware of it in the early stages since it does not produce painful side effects until it has spread. Oral cancer can take many forms including unexplained bumps, bleeding, swelling, numbness, pain, and difficulty swallowing.

Gum disease– Smoking causes decreased levels of oxygen in the blood leads to a weakened immune system and leaves your mouth vulnerable to infection. This means that bacteria found in your mouth can more easily build-up and infiltrate your gums. The bacteria can quickly destroy gum tissues, causing it to recede and become loose and unhealthy. The gums help to anchor teeth in place, so when the gum is compromised, it further also damages the bone causing the teeth to become loose and potentially fall out. When gum disease progresses it can affect the bones and surrounding tissues, causing them to break down, too. Smokers are two times more likely to contract gum disease than non smokers. Smoking is a cause of periodontitis, a common dental disease. Its symptoms may include infected gums, loss of the jawbone that supports the teeth and deep spaces forming around the teeth (periodontal pockets)

Cavities – Considering the increased plaque and gum problems caused by smoking, you’re also at higher risk for tooth decay. If you smoke, you’re putting your mouth at risk for three times as many cavities as those who don’t. Because the chemicals in tobacco products weaken the tooth’s protective enamel, teeth become more susceptible to bacteria, acids, and other destructive substances. With no protective layer, these substances cause decayed teeth and eventually it might spread down to the tooth root. This can be extremely painful and can cause teeth to become loose, requiring removal, and even falling out. This decay can also lead to infection with swelling and severe pain. Smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the blood, which your body needs in order to fight these infections.

Tooth sensitivities– Because smoking weakens or erodes tooth enamel, smoker’s teeth are often vulnerable and can become extremely sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. This can be quite painful and very restricting when it comes to food and drink.

Bad breath– It’s no surprise that smokers have bad breath and it’s not the kind you can get rid-off it, with a quick breath mint or chewing gum. Many chemicals pass through your oral cavity every time you smoke and many of them end up collecting on the surfaces inside your mouth. Smoking also contributes to bad breath by drying out your mouth, which can trigger gum infection and even irritate your sinuses.

Stains– Smoking is well known for the yellowing effect it has on teeth. This discoloration is actually stains left by the nicotine and tar found in cigarettes and other tobacco products. Over time, this discoloration can seep into tiny cracks in the tooth enamel. That means that after several years of smoking, the staining may well be permanent.

Delayed healing – After a tooth extraction or other oral surgery can be seen after several years of smoking as it also cause change in the immune response.

Taste and smell– Often use of tobacco products over a long period of time may result in altered taste and smell sensation.

Tobacco users especially should visit their dentist regularly to have their oral health monitored closely. It’s important to keep in mind that the only truly effective treatment in restoring the health of a smoker’s mouth is to stop smoking. It usually takes a few times before you successfully quit smoking. Consult with your dentist or physician about nicotine replacement therapy. If you’ve just had your dental cleaning it’s a great time to quit, because your mouth feels fresh and clean.


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