Smoking is primarily known for its harm to your lung and heart health. However, smoking a cigarette also negatively impacts your oral health. There are certainly options in restorative dentistry to repair some of the damage that smoking causes to the teeth and gums, but prevention is the best approach.
You may think that smoking just causes bad breath and yellow teeth. The truth is that smoking cigarettes affects many aspects of your dental health. If you are a smoker, you are at risk for the following eight oral health problems:
- Gum disease: Smokers are at a major disadvantage when it comes to gum disease. You have an increased risk for infection to the gums, which leads to tooth decay, tooth loss and painful abscesses. Your risk skyrockets because smoking allows plaque and bacteria to build up around your gum line and inhibits your body’s ability to fight infection.
- Tooth discoloration: Nicotine and tar in cigarettes stain the teeth over time, resulting in an unsightly yellow or yellowish-brown color.
- Dry mouth: Many smokers suffer from dry mouth. This is typically due to the fact that smoking causes the salivary glands to become inflamed, which makes it more difficult to produce saliva. A dry mouth is uncomfortable and promotes tooth decay and enamel erosion.
- Plaque and tartar build-up: Smoking contributes to extra plaque and tartar buildup. Smoking can also make plaque stickier, and when combined with dry mouth, puts your teeth at a significant risk for decay.
- Tooth decay: Plaque, tartar and bacteria accumulation in your mouth caused by smoking sets the perfect stage for tooth decay.
- Tooth loss: If you want to keep your teeth, put down the cigarette. Smoking can cause jawbone recession, tooth decay, severe gum disease, and soft tissue damage, all of which contribute to tooth loss.
- Bad breath: Not only does your breath smell bad immediately after you smoke, but you may also suffer from chronic halitosis due to possible gum disease, tooth decay, and or oral health complications.
- Oral cancer: Last, but certainly not least, is the serious risk for oral cancer for smokers. If you have been a smoker for many years, make sure you are seeing your dentist regularly for annual oral cancer screenings.
Kicking your smoking habit is difficult, however, a brighter, healthier and longer-lasting smile awaits your decision to quit.