Everyone knows smoking is bad for your health. Time and time again smokers have been told of this and the many different medical problems caused by smoking. And, in some cases, fatal diseases may result. There is another side effect of smoking that doesn’t get as much attention, and that is the toll it takes on your dental health. For those who like to light a cigarette or chew tobacco products, these can have a serious impact on your oral health.
I have heard tales of those who smoke say that their teeth do get more yellow, but it is as a result of forgetting to brush their teeth. Others say smoking probably doesn’t do any harm if you brush and rinse your teeth frequently with “whitening” products. However, medical experts say that smoking can significantly weaken both, constricting the blood flow to your mouth and turning it into a breeding ground for bacteria.
Unfortunately, the bad news for smokers does not end. According to results of a 23-year long study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, cigar smokers experience tooth loss and alveolar bone loss (bone loss within the jawbone that anchors teeth) at rates equivalent to those of cigarette smokers. Nowadays, you find adults and even teenagers with bad breath and tooth stain. Other down effects of smoking include, Inflammation of the salivary gland openings on the roof of the mouth, increased build- up of plaque and tartar on the teeth, and increased loss of bone within the jaw, or white patches inside the mouth.
Effects of Tobacco on the Teeth
Tobacco hurts your teeth in many ways.
The overgrowth of bacteria in the smoker’s mouth leads to horrible breath. No amount of brushing or gargling with mouthwash will get rid of the smell because it is coming from gum disease, oral sores, and decay.
Smoking is well known for the yellowing effect it has on teeth. Cigarettes contain tar, a chemical that coats your teeth lending them a yellowish tinge. This tar is difficult to clean with brushing, and usually forms permanent stains on a smoker’s teeth. Exposing your teeth to these chemicals weakens the tooth enamel, the protective layer that cannot be replaced.
Smokers also experience extremely sensitive teeth. As the gum tissue erodes, it leaves exposed roots and nerves. This will make it virtually impossible to tolerate some of your favourite hot or cold foods.
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 can eat away at teeth and eventually cause them to rot right down to the tooth root. This can be extremely painful and can cause teeth to become loose, requiring removal, and even falling out. This rotting can also lead to infection which leads to even larger issues.
Gum disease is a big problem for smokers; it can be very serious and lead to even more dangerous conditions as well. Smoking irritates gum tissue and reduces blood flow to the gums which causes damage, and can result in gums pulling away from the base of the teeth. Smoking may account for around 75 percent of (gum) diseases in adults. When gum disease progresses, it can affect the bones and surrounding flesh – causing them to break down. Studies have shown that those who smoke are two times more likely to contract gum disease than those who don’t.
According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, there are over 7,000 chemicals found in tobacco smoke, including over 70 known to cause cancer. Oral cancer is especially dangerous in that, generally those who have it are unaware of it in the early stages since it does not produce painful side effects until it has spread. Historically, over 75% of people over the age of 50 who have had oral cancer were regular tobacco smokers at one point in their life. Oral cancer can take many forms including unexplained bumps, bleeding, swelling, numbness, pain, and difficulty swallowing.
Not only does smoking increase your risk of things like extraction and oral surgery, it also slows down your body’s ability to recover from these procedures. It also lowers the rate of successful dental implant procedures.