You probably know that the risks of smoking include lung cancer and heart disease. However, you may not realize that smoking can have negative effects on your oral health too. Every part of the human body is affected by smoking, and the risks are particularly high for your mouth, due to the close proximity of the cigarette.
When you smoke, hundreds of chemicals are released, and they can negatively affect the immunity and functionality of your body. Prolonged smoking can result in many oral health problems. Here’s a closer look at a few of the effects of smoking on your gums and teeth.
Smoking increases your risk of gum diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis. Studies show that swelling and redness of the gums is significantly higher in smokers than in nonsmokers. The nicotine in cigarettes results in the narrowing of blood vessels. This results in a reduced blood supply to your gums. The lowered immune response that’s a result of smoking can also slow down the body’s response to any toxic oral microbes, allowing plaque to do more harm to the gums.
Periodontitis is a progression that may occur in smokers who have gingivitis. It results in destruction of the bone and gums around teeth that is irreversible. This type of damage is higher in smokers and occurs faster in smokers as well. Patients smoking over 10 cigarettes a day also have a higher risk of developing acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis.
Since smoking results in the release of carcinogenic chemicals, toxins, and irritants into the mouth, alterations to the mucosal lining of oral tissue often occurs. Smoking also dries out the mouth, and when combined with these alterations, reduced immunity, altered pH, and a higher oral temperature may result in oral cancer. Smokers may be up to six times more at risk for developing cancers of the mouth, lips, tongue, and throat. Patients who abuse alcohol as well increase this risk even further.
Smoking also results in bad breath, which is generally caused by bacteria breaking down proteins within the mouth. However, in patients who smoke, the smoke generally causes bad breath.
Another negative effect of smoking is teeth stains. The tobacco leaves brown or black stains behind on teeth. The frequency of smoking and amount of calculus on teeth determine the severity of the stains.
Solving Oral Health Problems Related to Smoking
The only true way to eliminate the negative health problems related to smoking is to quit smoking. After quitting, most patients have a decreased risk for most of these oral health problems. Several dental treatments and procedures may prove helpful as well. Former smokers worried about stains may want to visit Palm Beach Dental for teeth whitening procedures. Individuals who have developed bad breath or gingivitis may be able to see improvement with routine dental care. Patients with tooth damage may require implants or other interventions to deal with tooth loss related to smoking.
If you’re a smoker or you’ve recently quit, caring for your oral health is extremely important. Visit Palm Beach Dental or call for an appointment today. We’re happy to help you work on quitting and we’ll come up with a unique dental plan for your oral health needs.