It’s common knowledge that cigarette smoking is not good for your body. As it turns out, it’s especially bad for your oral health. Here’s more information on what the smoke in cigarettes, cigars, pipes, hookahs, and even e-cigarettes does to your teeth and gums.
Nicotine’s effects on oral health.
Regardless of how you ingest it, nicotine is a vasoconstrictor. That means it restricts blood flow in your body. This is why it interferes with the normal function of gum tissue, making them more susceptible to infections and more difficult to heal. They also affect the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth.
How it contributes to tooth decay.
Aside from its effects on gums, the act of smoking affects your salivary glands, causing a more chronic case of dry mouth. More than just a nuisance, saliva is the body’s natural defense against bacteria on the teeth and gums. When there’s less saliva to wash away the bacteria, it grows unabated, leading to more severe cases of tooth decay and deterioration of bone structure. Smokers are also at a higher risk for developing cancers of the throat and oral cancers.
Here’s a more complete list of the risks that smokers face:
- Bad breath
- Tooth discoloration
- Inflammation of the salivary gland openings on the roof of the mouth
- Increased buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth
- Increased loss of bone within the jaw
- Increased risk of leukoplakia, white patches inside the mouth
- Increased risk of developing gum disease, a leading cause of tooth loss
- Delayed healing process following tooth extraction, periodontal treatment, or oral surgery
- Lower success rate of dental implant procedures
- Increased risk of developing oral cancer
What if you stop smoking?
The good news is, it’s never too late to kick the habit and start healing. While smokers are far more likely than nonsmokers to develop gum disease, if a smoker successfully quits, that likelihood returns to that of a nonsmoker after eleven years.
There are many programs available for smokers who wish to quit and regain their oral health and overall health. Talk to your dentist about how we can help you kick the habit.