Consequences of Smoking for Your Oral Health
The effects of smoking on your lungs and heart are widely known but your dental health is often forgotten. Loaded with tons of chemicals, cigarettes and even chewing tobacco both have extremely negative effects on dental health which can lead to increased problems with your overall health. These effects can all be unsightly, painful, and expensive to treat but can be deterred or avoided by talking to your dentist about taking steps to reverse or repair any damages already done.
One of the most visible and obvious effects of smoking is tooth discoloration. There are certain chemicals in cigarettes that adhere to your teeth causing a yellowing or browning discoloration of the teeth. Whitening products can be used to temporarily prevent this problem but long term smoking can have irreversible effects on the color of your teeth.
Often times you can tell if someone is a smoker by the smell of their breath. This is because particles of the cigarette and the smoke are left lingering in the mouth long after you are done smoking the cigarette. The increased bacteria from smoking leads to gum disease and possible oral sores also largely contributing to bad breath.
Quickened Tooth Decay
Smoking deters your mouth from fighting off bacteria. This makes it easier for bacteria to grow and damage teeth leading to decay and possible loss of teeth. Due to the inability to fight off bacteria, this tooth decay occurs much faster in people who smoke or chew tobacco. Chewing tobacco can also rub away your tooth enamel leaving them unprotected to the harmful effects of bacteria and plaque.
The bacteria from your teeth can easily spread to your gums since smoking impairs your ability to fight off bacteria. This bacteria can cause several problems with your gums including periodontitis. This is a gum disease that damages the soft tissue in your mouth and destroys the bone that supports your teeth. This damage can cause loosened teeth or even the loss of teeth.
Hindered Immune System
Smoking lessens your immune response making you more prone to infections. This can cause you to find it more difficult to get rid of a cold or a minor illness that non smokers don’t see as a concern. A weakened immune system can lead to respiratory infections, prolonged illness, and fewer antioxidants in the body.
Antioxidants help to fight free radicals which are the cells that cause cancer. When you smoke, it is harder for your body to fight these cells off because of the fewer antioxidants found in your body. Often times, in people who smoke, this leads to oral cancer. Symptoms of oral cancer include red or white patches in the mouth, numbness in the jaw, and difficulty swallowing or chewing. The sooner you see your dentist to address these issues, the more effective the treatment can be.