The Impact of Smoking and Tobacco on Oral Health

Your teeth say a lot about you. They can indicate if you’ve had braces, what you’ve eaten for breakfast that morning, your age — they can even reveal if you’re a smoker. Smoking has long been associated with health complications like lung cancer and heart disease, but did you know it can also impact your oral health?

Tooth discoloration, gum inflammation and heightened oral cancer risk are just a few ways smoking affects your dental health. These symptoms can also lead to severe and permanent dental issues without proper care. Learn more about the risks of smoking for your oral health and how to minimize its impact on your teeth.

Smoking’s Impact on Dental Health

Smoking can impact your dental health in many ways. It can cause bad breath, cosmetics issues, tooth decay and oral cancer. While you might hear about these side effects often, understanding their severity can make you think twice about smoking.

The most frequent oral health risks for smokers include:

  • Bad breath: Chemicals like nicotine and tar can stick to your mouth areas, causing halitosis or bad breath.
  • Reduced taste and smell: Smoking can affect your taste buds and smell, lowering your sense of taste and smell.
  • Teeth and tongue discoloration: Tartar and plaque build-up on your teeth from smoking can cause teeth and tongue stains. Some people can develop black tongue fur from tobacco.
  • Mouth sores and ulcers: Chemicals in tobacco products and the heat from smoking can irritate mouth areas, causing infections, sores and ulcers.
  • Difficulty fixing cosmetic issues: Treatments like braces, veneers and Invisalign might be less effective due to smoking.

Smoking also comes with more severe or serious health effects, such as:

  • Teeth deterioration: Tobacco particles in products like cigars and chewing tobacco can rub against your teeth’ surface, scraping away the enamel and increasing wear.
  • Tooth decay: Smoking increases your chances of tooth decay, requiring more treatments like crowns and fillings to restore and strengthen teeth.
  • Increased risk of gum diseases: Smokers have twice the risk of gingivitis and periodontitis.
  • Lower success rate in treating gum disease: Smoking can compromise your immune system and make it more challenging to fight off gum disease.
  • Increased risk of oral cancer: Your chance of oral cancer can increase due to smoking and chewing tobacco products. Tobacco and other chemicals in these items might be carcinogenic, changing cells in your mouth. These changes can happen rapidly due to the number of blood vessels and lymph nodes in your neck.
  • Limited dental treatment options: Increased damage like tooth decay and deterioration from smoking can make it challenging to perform treatments like implanting a filling or replacing loose teeth. Oral conditions can increase bacteria in the mouth and cause inflammation, infections, weakened teeth and less blood flow, impacting procedures like implementing crowns.
  • Longer healing post-dental surgery: The tobacco and nicotine in smoking products can affect the cell tissue in your mouth and your overall immune system, making it challenging to fight infections and prolong healing post-operation.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is a build-up of bacteria and germs in the gums. Bacteria and germs in your gums increase infections, affecting your teeth’ bone structure and causing tooth loss. When you have a gum infection, your body will create antibodies to fight it.

smoking can impact your immune system, reducing healing

However, smoking can impact your immune system, reducing healing. If your gum infection does not heal properly, bacteria continue to build up, leading to severe gum or perinatal disease.

Signs of gum disease can include:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Bleeding gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Red or purple gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Gum tenderness
  • Bad breath
  • Receding gums

Effects of Tobacco on Gums

Tabaco products like a cigarette, cigars, chewing tobacco and vapes can cause gum disease, leading to effects like calluses, abscesses and tooth deterioration and loss.

Teeth Calluses

Plaque and tartar build-up from smoking can harden on your teeth surface and create calluses. Without professional dental care to remove calluses, they can collect in your gum line. The bacteria from calluses spread through your gum, damaging your gum tissue. Damaged gum tissue creates gaps or openings between your gum line and teeth where germs and bacteria fill up, leading to periodontal disease or severe gum disease.

Tooth Abscess

Neglecting tooth decay, calluses and gum diseases can lead to infections or an abscess in your tooth. An abscess is a build-up of yellow or white secretion in your tooth. It forms due to a build-up of pus from a tooth or gum infection.

For example, if you have tooth decay or gum disease, your body will try to fight the infection, forming pus from dead bacteria and germs. Smoking can increase the bacteria in your mouth and prevent your body from fighting the infection. Pus will begin to accumulate, causing an abscess.

Gum Deterioration and Tooth Loss

Smoking can lead to severe gum disease. When gum disease gets worse, it can cause your gums to recede or pull away from your teeth. Gum disease can also decay the bone tissue that supports your teeth, leading to tooth breakage and loss.

How to Minimize Smoking’s Effects on Oral Health

Smoking can lead to higher rates of gum infections and disease. While you can’t eliminate the impacts of smoking on your dental health, there are ways to minimize the effects:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day after eating
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste to help strengthen your teeth and prevent tooth decay
  • Floss regularly to remove plaque and bacteria
  • Rinse your mouth with antibacterial mouthwash
  • Evaluate your mouth and teeth daily and visit a dentist if you notice issues like gum discoloration or mouth ulcers
  • Speak to a professional about a custom plan to help you quit smoking
  • See a dentist for regular check-ups, especially if you notice tooth pain and gun inflammation
  • Avoid foods that can cause further discoloration or stains

contact dental choice for oral health care

Contact Dental Choice for Oral Health Care

Prioritizing your oral health is essential to reduce the effects of smoking on your gums and teeth. At Dental Choice, we understand the severity of smoking on your dental health and are here to help! We’re dedicated to complete patient care to help you treat the side effects of smoking, like tooth decay and periodontal diseases. We can also answer your questions on the impact of tobacco and other oral care concerns. We will work with you to find a suitable dental treatment plan to keep you healthy and smiling.

Schedule an appointment at Dental Choice today to start prioritizing your oral health.

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