8 Ways Smoking Destroys Your Teeth and Overall Oral Health
Much has been said about the effects of smoking on the human body in general. For instance, study after study has shown that smoking is directly responsible for chronic lung disease, lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and a host of other medical conditions.
What many people don’t realize is that smoking not only devastates your body’s organs but also does a number on your oral health. Here are even more reasons to drop the habit and save your smile.
Studies have shown that smoking shrinks the blood vessels, which decreases blood flow. Restricted blood flow affects not only your heart and other major organs but your oral health as well. It prohibits your gums from fighting an infection as efficiently as they normally would. In addition, smoking weakens your immune system, which again makes it vulnerable to diseases and prolongs the healing process of your gums.
Smoking also kills beneficial bacteria that are present in the mouth, which gives harmful bacteria an opportunity to flourish. These factors make smokers comparably more prone to gum disease than nonsmokers and cause problems to progress relatively faster.
More evidence shows that smoking can cause cavities. The American College of Prosthodontists says that nicotine may escalate the buildup of biofilm (plaque) on the teeth. This contains bacteria that feed on the sugars and carbs inside your mouth. Plaque produces acids that eat away at the structure of your tooth enamel, creating holes that can leave the roots open. Cavities bring nothing but pain and sensitivity to the teeth and they cost thousands of dollars of dental work if not treated immediately.
As periodontal disease progresses and bacteria takes over your mouth, expect to feel new mouth sores forming. These little white sores are incredibly painful and make it unbearable to eat even food with the slightest acidity.
If you think that those graphic health warnings about people’s teeth falling out because of tobacco use are a little too far-fetched, think again. Numerous studies reveal a strong correlation between smoking and tooth loss. The Academy of General also found that men who smoke a pack a day lost around 3 teeth for every 10 years of tobacco use, making smokers twice as likely to suffer from the impaired oral function.
Unlike the extrinsic staining caused by consuming coffee, cola, wine, and other types of food and drink, the discoloration caused by nicotine is described as intrinsic. This means that it affects not only the surface of the tooth but its inner structure as well.
Cigarettes contain large quantities of tar and nicotine. While nicotine itself is colorless, it reacts when exposed to oxygen which turns it yellow. The teeth then absorb this chemical through its pores. The stain caused by tar and nicotine can be so severe your teeth can turn yellow in just a matter of weeks. Continued use of tobacco can intensify the discoloration even further, making your smile appear more brown than yellow.
Mouth dryness is another problem that affects many smokers. Inhaling smoke blocks your salivary glands and causes your mouth tissues to be burned. As your mouth struggles due to the lack of saliva, you will feel uncomfortable and experience dryness. This can result in more harmful conditions like oral fungal infections, mouth sores, and gum diseases.
Altered Taste And Smell
Smoking regularly can mess with your sense of taste and smell. You might feel that something is a bit “off.” Since this interferes with your enjoyment of food, you might be inclined to add too much sugar or salt when you’re eating – in an attempt to make the taste stronger. Various studies prove this, suggesting that smoking (among other factors and depending on dose) has an adverse effect on olfactory function.
Increased Oral Cancer Risk
Time and again, researchers have proven that smoking increases the risk of various cancers, including lung, pancreatic, stomach, and kidney cancer. This unhealthy habit is also responsible for the majority of oral and throat conditions, including mouth laryngeal, and esophageal cancer. In fact, 80% of people with oral cancers use tobacco in the form of cigarettes or taking snuff.
If you’ve ever wondered what makes tobacco smoke so toxic, here’s a basic fact to remember. Tobacco smoke is a toxic cocktail of chemicals containing 70 known carcinogens, including hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, lead, arsenic, and benzene.
Ready To Quit Smoking?
Fortunately, many of the habit’s adverse effects are reversible and what better time to start than now? Within just 48 hours of quitting, the damaged nerve ending in your nose and mouth will begin to grow, improving your sense of smell and taste. Within a week, you will begin to see and feel a difference in the color of your teeth and mouth. The stain that’s been keeping your smile from shining bright will start to diminish.
As your body adjusts, the stress and anxiety during the withdrawal stage may cause your dry mouth to become worse. Do not panic when you experience this because it’s a normal part of healing. Along with improved breathing, the increased oxygen will give you an energy boost. Your risk of inflammation will also lower, helping your immune system fight off colds and other illnesses more effectively. It may take a few years after quitting, but your chance of having oral and throat cancers will also decrease.
Get Help From Your Trusted Dentist
Smoking can be a huge part of your lifestyle, which makes it extremely difficult to quit and stay clean. We, at Kyrene Family Dentistry, understand that. Our expert team can guide you in your recovery toward a better oral health.
We provide tips to help you overcome issues and maintain proper oral hygiene. Feel free to drop by at our dental office in Chandler, AZ, or call us at 480 (705-9005) for your questions. You may also fill out our contact form to schedule for an appointment.