Most people are aware of the negative effects of smoking. It can lead to serious medical conditions and even chronic diseases such as lung cancer. However, there’s another side effect of smoking that doesn’t get as much attention, and that’s the toll it takes on your dental health. Have you given thought to how smoking can damage your mouth, gums and teeth?
The habit can lead to tooth staining; gum disease; tooth loss; and in more severe cases, mouth cancer.
- Give you bad breath
- Cause your smile to be discoloured/stained
- Increase your risk of getting oral cancer
- Lengthen the time it takes to heal from oral surgery
Why be concerned with the oral effects of smoking?
A healthy smile is of high importance for most adults as it’s often the first thing people notice. Nobody wants a smile that is dull or discoloured, let alone produces bad breath.
Unfortunately, routine brushing is only half the solution as it doesn’t remove stains or get rid of halitosis by itself. The good news is that a visit to Ollie & Darsh can promote a dialogue that opens a path to quitting smoking.
We’ve got all your smoking FAQs below…
Why do I have stained teeth?
This is caused by the nicotine and tar in cigarette tobacco. It can quickly make your teeth yellow, and heavy smokers often complain that their teeth are almost brown after years of smoking.
How does smoking affect my teeth and gums?
People who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque. This is because cigarettes limit your mouth’s ability to fight off infection, leaving you defenceless against bacteria. This build-up of plaque can then lead to gum disease – the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.
A lack of oxygen in the bloodstream can also affect your gums as smoking makes it more difficult for infected gums to heal.
When you smoke, you short-circuit your body’s auto-immune defences, meaning your body will have a hard time protecting itself. Grit in tobacco can also rub teeth, wearing away their protective coating of enamel.
Symptoms of serious tooth problems may include:
- Yellowing or browning of the teeth
- Build-up of calculus (hardened plaque)
- Tooth decay
- Bleeding gums
- Dry mouth
These symptoms often lead to more serious side effects, such as:
- Damaged tooth enamel
- A greater need for root canals
- Loss of teeth
The issue can be more than just cosmetic as smoking can impact the way you chew and how your bite aligns.
- Smokers are 64.2 percent more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers;
- Female smokers lose 1.5 teeth every 10 years, and male smokers lose 2.9;
- 16 percent of smokers have poor dental health, four times the rate of people who have never smoked;
- Smokers are less likely to have gone to the dentist in the past five years than non-smokers;
- More than a third of smokers have at least three dental health issues.
How is smoking linked to cancer?
Most people have heard of cancer affecting parts of the body such as the lungs or breasts. However, did you know that smoking is one of the main causes of mouth cancer? The disease can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks and throat. Every year, thousands of people die from mouth cancer brought on by smoking.
Will smoking give me bad breath?
The old saying “your breath smells like an ashtray” definitely holds true with smokers today. Cigarette particles remain in the mouth long after a cigarette is put out. And beyond this, people who smoke are more likely to suffer from bad breath due to longer-term effects and the overgrowth of bacteria in the smoker’s mouth.
Fresh-breath products such as mouthwashes may help to disguise the problem in the short-term. However, they are not a long-term solution or cure.
How can Ollie & Darsh help?
Giving up smoking is the best way to fight gum disease, but it’s also important to practice good oral hygiene. We recommend daily flossing and brushing after every meal using a fluoride toothpaste.
Perhaps the best way to forestall future gum issues is to visit our clinic regularly. Your dentist or hygienist can recognise the signs of periodontal disease and we work hard to combat it. At Ollie & Darsh we carry out regular examinations to make sure that your teeth, gums and whole mouth are healthy. We’ll examine your cheeks, tongue and throat for any signs of other conditions that may need more investigation.
Stop smoking advice
We know that giving up smoking is not easy. Many people have tried and failed. Please be assured that it’s not a character flaw — it’s a difficult habit to kick. Our staff are very friendly and approachable, and we want to stress that you shouldn’t feel embarrassed or avoid the dentist for fear of being judged. We don’t want to lecture you on stopping smoking. Our aim is simply to ensure we’re doing everything to keep your mouth healthy!
We work hard to help our clients restore their dental health through a range of dental treatments. Our hygienists have plenty of information on smoking cessation programmes and can tell you what has worked for other clients in the past (anonymously of course).
Our dental team have helped many clients deal with gum disease and tooth issues caused by smoking. We can also help with cosmetic dental treatments to restore your teeth to their former lustre.