Everyone knows that smoking and tobacco are bad for the health, although your may not think of your teeth and mouth first. Smoking not only exposes you to tobacco but also nicotine. So, you’ll have to consider a whole lot of damage these two substances can cause to your teeth and mouth. Be aware of these changes smoking can bring about……..
Your white teeth become stained and discoloured because of the nicotine and the tar in the cigarette. Even if you are not a pack-a-day smoker, regular tobacco use can change the colour of your teeth quickly. The amount you smoke will determine the degree of discolouration. Your teeth can be yellowish-brown to a dark brown with black stains.
Bad breath, loss of taste and smell
Gum infection and recession
A filmy bacteria laden plaque is formed constantly at your gum line. When this plaque hardens into tartar, you an develop gum infection and gum recession. Your dentist or dental hygienist will clean up these deposits. Chemicals from the tobacco products affect the flow of saliva in your mouth. And a reduced salivary flow leads to dryness, which in turn aggravates plaque accumulation. If you are a smoker, then you are at 3 to 6 times more risk of developing gum infections.
Periodontal disease and bone loss
An advanced gum disease is ‘Periodontitis’. When you ignore the initial signs of gum infection like red swollen and bleeding gums, then the advanced disease sets in. With periodontitis, you will have loss of the tooth supporting bone and eventually, loose teeth. Normally, your dentist will do scaling and teeth cleaning to help you control the spread go gum infection. If you are a smoker or tobacco user, then the infection will spread faster and healing is also delayed.
Tooth decay and tooth loss
Smoking supports the growth and deposition of plaque and bacteria. In turn, the bacteria make cavities in your teeth. Large cavities along your gum line infects the tooth and make them weak. Ultimately, these weakened teeth break and your dentist has to remove them.
Mouth sores and ulcers
Again because of the drying effect of tobacco smoke, mouth ulcers and sore mouth is more common among smokers. Another one commonly seen inflammation of the mouth especially in pipe smokers is ‘Smoker’s palate’. Here you will see red spots in the palate of the mouth.
Reduced immunity and implant failure
Smokers have an overall reduced immunity to fight infections, making healing difficult. Reduced blood flow to the surgical site makes recovery of dental surgical procedures like tooth removal and implant prosthesis difficult. ‘Dry socket’ is more common in smokers than non smokers. Your dentist can advise you against an implant if you are a heavy smoker.
The development of oral cancer because of tobacco products is well documented. Tobacco used in the smokeless form or as cigarettes increases your risk to oral cancer and other precancerous lesions.
Talk to your dentist if you like to quit smoking. Your friendly dentist will guide you on various ways to give up the habit.