Despite the well-known dangers of smoking, many people continue to light up without realizing the full extent of the harm they’re causing to their oral health.
Scientific studies have shown that smoking is strongly linked to the development of oral diseases, and the more a person smokes, the greater their risk of developing these conditions.
From dark-stained teeth and bad breath to gum disease and even oral cancer, the effects of smoking can be severe and long-lasting. In this article, we’ll explore the smoky truth about how smoking affects your oral health and why it’s critical to kick the habit for good.
How smoking affects oral health:
Smoking causes a significant reduction in blood flow to the mouth leading to a decreased number of PMNs, the fighting cells, reaching the affected area. Even those PMNs that manage to reach their destination are impaired due to the effects of smoking. The combination of these makes the oral cavity vulnerable to infections and significantly slows down the natural healing process.
The Impact of Smoking on Oral Health
Smoking has a profound impact on oral health, with a wide range of detrimental effects on teeth and gums. Some of the most significant effects include:
- Teeth discoloration: The effect of smoking is more severe than that of the consumption of coffee and tea. Smoking can lead to a noticeable and unattractive dark brown or black discoloration on teeth, which can be incredibly stubborn to remove even with basic procedures like scaling. In some cases, professional bleaching, also known as teeth whitening, may be required to eliminate these stains.
- Bad breath: People who have been smoking for a long time may have persistent bad breath, also known as halitosis, due to the harmful chemicals present in cigarettes that build up in the mouth and lungs.
- Delayed wound healing: As mentioned above, smoking alters the defence mechanism of our body. This may result in a painful condition after tooth extraction known as a dry socket. This can also result in longer healing time for other surgical procedures in the mouth.
- Implant failure: In a study, smoking was found to be by far the most significant factor in implant failure. Failure rates were 4.8% in non-smokers and 11.3% in smokers.
- Soft tissue changes: Smoking can result in a variety of changes in the mouth. From innocent conditions like discoloration of your palate, to potentially harmful conditions like leukoplakia and, the most dangerous effect of all, oral cancer. The toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke can cause cellular damage and mutations, leading to the development of cancerous cells in the mouth.
- Gum and bone disease: This is due to the decreased blood flow. The gums start to recede, resulting in bone loss, making the teeth to lose all the support and fall off.
Strategies to quit smoking:
Once started, smokers become addicted and spend years struggling to break the habit. However, there are some simple yet effective ways to quit smoking and break this addiction:
- NRT: (Nicotine Replacement Therapy): It helps people cope better with their cravings for nicotine. These are available in various forms like patches, gums, nasal sprays, lozenge, inhalators and microtabs.
Bupropion (Zyban), although originally developed as an anti-depressant in the US has now been licensed as a pharmaceutical treatment for tobacco dependence.
- Avoid Triggers: Steer clear of triggers that may tempt you to smoke, such as being around other smokers or certain environments.
- Keep busy: This can take your mind off of smoking and reduce the urge to smoke.
- Remind yourself why you’re quitting: All smokers have their own good reasons for stopping. Keep reminding yourself.
- Pick yourself back up: If you slip up and have a cigarette, don’t get discouraged – instead, pick yourself back up and recommit to your goal of quitting smoking.
- Get therapy: Some smokers who are heavily dependent on nicotine may require more specialist and intensive support to quit. Across the country, specialist smoking cessation services have been established to provide assistance to these individuals.
Tips from the dentist:
Worldwide smoking is the single most important public health problem. A study published in the Swedish Dental Journal found that among 183 subjects followed over a 10-year period, the 44 individuals who quit smoking had significantly less teeth loosening compared to the 139 who continued to smoke regularly. This highlights the importance of quitting smoking for maintaining good dental health in the long-term.
If you’re not ready to quit yet, you can still take care of your teeth.
- Practice good oral hygiene: Smokers should be very cautious about maintaining good oral hygiene to combat the effects of smoking on their teeth and gums. Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and use mouthwash to help kill bacteria that can cause bad breath.
- Visit your dentist regularly: Dental check-ups and cleaning are important for everyone, but especially for smokers. Visit your dentist at least every 6 months to monitor your oral health, screen for oral cancer, and receive treatments to help prevent or address gum disease and tooth decay. Don’t hesitate to book an appointment today!
- Consider teeth whitening: Smoking can cause yellowing and staining of the teeth, which can be embarrassing and affect your self-confidence. We provide teeth whitening treatments to help restore your smile to its natural brightness.
Don’t let smoking damage your teeth – contact us now to book your appointment and take the first step towards a healthier, smoke-free smile! Our experienced team at Paragon Dental is dedicated to providing you with personalized care in a comfortable, welcoming environment.
Give us a call at (209) 548-0100
We’re always happy to answer any questions you have and help you find a time that works for you. Don’t wait – start your journey to better dental health today!
Schedule your appointment here.