When most people think about the effects of smoking, they think about the damage smoking does to the lungs, and maybe even the heart. However, smoking can have much wider effects on a person's health than just those areas.
Smoking and dental health are related. If you are a current smoker, get to know some of the many ways that smoking can impact your oral health. Then, you can be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist sooner rather than later.
The most readily noticeable dental health issue caused by smoking is the staining of the teeth. Tobacco and nicotine both cause yellowish staining on the teeth, which occurs because the teeth are porous. The longer and more often you smoke, the more staining you have to deal with.
Additionally, nicotine becomes yellowish when it comes into contact with oxygen, not because of the tobacco. This means that any smoking device that includes nicotine (like some of the "juices" for e-cigarettes) still causes staining, even if it is tobacco-free.
Staining from tobacco and nicotine can be tough to get rid of, especially after years of smoking. Professional whitening services from a dentist can help, but your teeth will continue to get yellow and brown stains as long as you smoke.
Additionally, smoking stains run deep and can even penetrate down into the tooth beneath the enamel. This makes it even harder to remove those stains. Professional whitening services may fade such stains but likely will not completely eradicate them.
One of the more serious oral health concerns that you can face as a smoker is an increased risk of developing gum disease. Smoking decreases the amount of saliva in the mouth. Chronic issues with dry mouth lead to larger amounts of tartar and plaque in the mouth. Tartar and plaque, in turn, cause a proliferation of bacteria in the mouth.
This bacteria in the mouth is what leads to gum disease. Gum disease is a bacterial infection that damages not only the soft tissues (gums) in your mouth, but also has a significant impact on the teeth themselves and the facial bones that support the teeth.
Gum disease can lead to receding gums, bone loss, and tooth loss. It can also cause a great deal of bleeding in the mouth. And as the gums recede, a person can experience vast amounts of pain because the nerves of the teeth will become exposed.
Dentists and medical doctors alike have also found that gum disease is often linked to heart disease and other cardiovascular problems as well as diabetes.
When you develop gum disease from smoking, it can be difficult to overcome the infection. Smoking suppresses the immune system which makes it more difficult for the body to fight off infections. As such, antibiotics and other treatments that would normally work for gum disease can be less effective.
Surgery for gum disease such as tooth removal and/or gum grafting may also be less likely to be successful when you are a smoker. Smoking narrows the blood vessels in the skin and elsewhere in the body. This prevents the oxygen that helps in the healing process from getting to those wounds. The surgery itself can also be dangerous as smoking can impact the effectiveness and safety of anesthesia.
Knowing these possible consequences of smoking on your oral health, the next step is to schedule a dental appointment as soon as possible. Call your dentist and get your oral health assessed right away to see what damage has been done to your mouth through smoking and get the treatment you need to correct those issues.