Smoking is not just a terrible and harmful habit for your body, but it also affects the wellbeing of your mouth in its entirety. It is a known fact that smoking causes severe damages to gums and teeth as it reduces the blood flow to the gums, which, in turn, causes gum disease – the prelude to periodontitis. However, more often than not, smokers are unaware of how severe their gum disease really is.
But what is gum disease, exactly? It can be defined as a severe inflammation of the gums that leads to the loss of bone and tissue surrounding and supporting the teeth. Once a tooth can no longer benefit from adequate support, it loosens, becoming wobbly and sore, and eventually it will fall off or must be extracted by the dentist. Keep in mind that the primary cause of tooth loss in adult patients is, indeed, gum disease caused by poor or insufficient oral health or smoking.
Have you ever experienced the typical feeling of dry mouth after smoking excessively? If you have, then this is a symptom that you should never underestimate nor ignore. In general terms, smokers are three times more likely to experience gum disease than non-smokers, but can also more exposed to tooth decay since the nicotine present in tobacco significantly reduces saliva flows.
It is also important to note that saliva in smokers is usually thicker, thus preventing it from adequately protecting the teeth from bacterial aggression.
And there is more: smoking causes severe halitosis, which is quite prevalent even when oral hygiene is appropriately conducted. The thousands of toxic substances contained in a cigarette, cigar, or even chewable tobacco turn the smoker’s mouth into the perfect breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria.
- Foul breath
- An increased risk of suffering from oral cancer
- Teeth discolouration
- Yellowed teeth
- Bleeding gums
- Calculus build-up (hardened plaque)
- Dry mouth
- Damaged or eroded enamel
- Tooth loss
- Lengthier and more troublesome healing after oral surgery
Inherently, smoking limits the ability of the mouth to fight off infections. In other words, the oral cavity is much more prone to be attacked by bacteria produced by smoking.
A defenceless mouth is more likely to allow bacteria and plaque to fester, which, in turn, causes dental decay. Since the mouth is the first and most important “entryway” for many different substances, its debilitated condition can short-circuit the body’s autoimmune defences, which means that you will have a more troublesome time protecting yourself from infections.
Not only does smoking damage your teeth, it can destroy them completely! According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 16% of smokers have poor dental health and are less likely to have gone to the dentist in the past five years than non-smokers. Even worse, over one third of smokers have at least three dental health issues.
We strongly recommend you quit smoking now and book an appointment with your dentist to assess the condition of your mouth. Prevention is always the key!