5 Effects of Smoking on Oral Health

Although teeth are not researched as often as the rest of the body, the effects of smoking on teeth are important. The effects of smoking on the teeth are especially important if you want to quit smoking. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, which kills millions of people each year.  Everyone knows smoking is harmful to our organism but did you know that in majority cases it contributes to dental problems as well? Below we discuss five effects of smoking on our dental health.

1. Creates Plaque and Tartar

Chemicals that you inhale during smoking affect saliva flow in the mouth, which makes it easier for bacteria to attach to teeth and gums. The bacterial film can form on teeth and along the gum line. While accumulating on the teeth for a long time, plaque can harden into tartar also known as calculus. This substance is so hard that it requires professional cleaning in the dentist’s office to remove it. 

Tobacco is the biggest predisposition factor for gum disease. It is an inflammation of your gums and the surrounding bone structure. As inflammation increases, the tooth root is exposed creating pocket depths. When space between your gum and tooth becomes larger, bacteria accumulate in these pockets causing extensive decay.

Smokers are up to six times more prone to developing periodontal disease and gum disease. Even chewing tobacco products may irritate the gums, makes them loosen around teeth.

2. Tooth Discoloration

Smoking or chewing tobacco products make your teeth enamel more prone to stains. It doesn’t take long for your teeth to become yellowish once you start using nicotine products. Smoking dries out the tooth enamel causing it to wear away faster than it normally would. This process causes premature tooth structure aging and leads to yellowing. Smoking is also among the leading causes of extrinsic staining because of the nicotine, tar, and other chemicals present in cigarettes.

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3. Poor Healing After Dental Procedures

Smoking changes the composition of saliva and its pH. One of the main functions of saliva – oral disinfection – is significantly reduced. In this case, the tissues become dehydrated and suffer from a lack of oxygen. Such changes in human dental tissues and bones disrupt the healing of wounds in the mouth and increase the risk of gum disease and tooth loss.

When removing the tooth of the smoker, its vessels are narrowed by exposure to nicotine and cannot form a blood clot, which makes the nerve endings of the gums prone to the dry hole syndrome. Removal of any molar in a smoker is accompanied by severe pain and fever. Therefore, dentists insist on abstinence from smoking before and after tooth extraction.

Nicotine addiction increases the risk of rejection during a dental implant procedure. Smoking makes it almost impossible to successfully treat periodontal diseases as nicotine “destroys ” the immune system.

4. Leukoplakia

Leukoplakia are white or gray patches that may appear inside the cheek, on the tongue, or on the floor of the mouth. This is how the mouth reacts to chronic irritation of the mucous membranes of the mouth. Tobacco, both chewing and smoking, is the most common cause of leukoplakia which is an early sign of oral cancer. Even if leukoplakia patches were surgically removed by your dentist, the risk of developing oral cancer remains if you continue tobacco use.

5. Oral Cancer

Along with tobacco smoke, you inhale more than 70,000 different chemicals. While some of them are not so dangerous 7,000 of these chemicals are known carcinogens. According to WebMD, about 90 percent of people diagnosed with oral cancer used tobacco. And in a study published by the American Cancer Society, male tobacco users had 28 times higher the risk of developing oral cancer than males who have never smoked. Female smokers had 6 times the chance of developing oral cancer than those females who do not smoke.

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