How Does Smoking Affect Oral Health?

If your or a loved one is a smoker, then you likely know how detrimental the effects of smoking can be to one’s health. It is estimated that more than ⅓ of smokers are experiencing at least 3 oral health problems, and as many as 15 out of every 100 adults are cigarette smokers. These numbers are relatively high, especially considering how much we know now about how bad smoking can be for one’s health.

Regardless of whether the individual is a ‘casual’ smoker or a pack-a-day smoker, understanding the harmful effects of smoking, especially on the mouth, is highly important. Read on to learn more about how smoking affects oral health and what can be done to take control and overcome tobacco addiction.

Cosmetic Effects

The teeth sustain the majority of the damage when faced with cigarette smoking. Not only do the teeth touch the cigarette itself, but they come in contact with the harmful and dangerous toxins that are produced by cigarette smoke. These toxins are hugely damaging to the teeth and will damage and break down the enamel of teeth over time, causing widespread damage. Some of the cosmetic effects of cigarette smoke include:

  • Yellow or Brown Teeth
  • Swollen, Red, or Bleeding Gums
  • Hardening of Plaque
  • Tooth Decay
  • Chronic Dry Mouth

These are just a few of the damaging effects of cigarettes and tobacco on the teeth. If these symptoms are present and the individual continues to smoke, they may be at risk of experiencing:

  • Root Canals
  • Tooth Loss
  • Loss of or Irreparably Damaged Tooth Enamel

When any of these symptoms arise, it is very important to speak to your dentist right away.

Health Effects

Gum disease is one of the most commonly seen problems that develop from smoking. In fact, gum disease is 64.2% more likely to occur in smokers than non-smokers. That fact alone should be enough to encourage anyone to quit smoking.

Gum disease is so often seen in smokers because of the build-up of bacteria in the mouth and gums. Because of this buildup, the gums become irritated and inflamed, which makes them an easy target for bacteria to infiltrate the gum tissue and cause periodontal disease.

Bacteria production in smokers is increased due to the nicotine in cigarettes, which reduces the amount of oxygen that is delivered to the gums and soft tissue within the mouth. Nicotine also constricts the blood vessels, which in turn can make the gums less likely to bleed. This can make it especially difficult for dentists to identify and diagnose gum disease.

The effects of smoking on your gums include:

  • Redness & Inflammation
  • Loose Teeth
  • Oozing or Pus Between the Teeth
  • Pain when Chewing or Eating
  • Chronic Bad Breath
  • Receding Gums

Dental Hygiene Tips for Smokers

If you’re still struggling to quit smoking, it is important to pay extra attention and be committed to a proper oral hygiene routine. Make sure you:

  • Rinse your mouth with mouthwash for at least 60 seconds every day
  • Floss once daily, as this is an effective way to prevent plaque buildup
  • Brush your Teeth with a soft-bristle toothbrush twice daily for at least two minutes each time
  • Have the condition of your tongue and gums checked at every dental appointment
  • Visit your dentist at least every six months for routine checkups and cleanings

Tips to Help you Quit

Quitting smoking can be very difficult, and shouldn’t be done on a whim or without a plan. In order to quit successfully, having a solid plan is very important, as well as a lot of support from family, friends, and loved ones. The following approaches have been proven to be effective and may be worth exploring.

Nicotine Replacement: While the research is still unclear in terms of whether E-cigarettes or vaping is a safe alternative to tobacco cigarettes, these methods eliminate the threat of nicotine, however medical experts are still unsure if other harmful effects on one’s health are caused by them. Nicotine patches, gums, lozenges, or therapies are also possible options.

Trigger Avoidance: Sometimes, sidestepping specific triggers or stresses that make you want to smoke can be helpful. Some common triggers are drinking alcohol, eating specific foods, experiencing stress, or attending social events. Whatever the trigger may be, avoiding these situations until you feel you can handle them can be very helpful when quitting smoking.

Cold Turkey: For those with a strong support system and who feel they can tolerate the possible withdrawal symptoms, eliminating cigarettes completely can be an effective method.

The Bottom Line

If you want beautiful, strong, and healthy teeth and gums that will last a lifetime, you must make sure you take care of them. Quit smoking as soon as you can and visit your dentist for support, oral health care tips, and how to take care of your teeth moving forward. At Stonegate Dental, we pride ourselves on offering the best care and support to all of our clients. Contact our Guelph dentist’s office to schedule your appointment today!

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