What Are The Effects Of Smoking On Dental Health?

What Are The Effects Of Smoking On Dental Health

What Are The Effects Of Smoking On Dental Health?

Gum (periodontal) disease is an infection of the gums and can affect the bone structure that supports your teeth due to smoking. In severe cases, it can make your teeth fall out. Smoking is an important cause of severe gum disease.

Why Is Smoking So Bad for Your Teeth?

Smoking cigarettes don’t just damage teeth — it can even destroy them.

How does smoking affect your teeth?

Your teeth come in direct contact with the dangerous toxins you inhale when you take a drag. It’s little surprise they’re harmed so severely by tobacco. Symptoms of serious tooth problems may include:

  • Yellowing or browning of the teeth
  • Bleeding gums
  • A buildup of calculus (hardened plaque)
  • Tooth decay
  • Dry mouth
These symptoms often lead to even greater side effects of smoking, such as:

How Is Smoking Related to Gum Disease?

Smoking weakens your body’s infection fighters (your immune system). This makes it harder to fight off a gum infection. Once you have gum damage, smoking also makes it harder for your gums to heal.

What does this mean for me if I am a smoker?

  • You have twice the risk for gum disease compared with a nonsmoker.
  • The more cigarettes you smoke, the greater your risk for gum disease. 
  • The longer you smoke, the greater your risk for gum disease. 
  • Treatments for gum disease may not work as well for people who smoke. 

Tobacco use in any form—cigarettes, pipes, and smokeless (spit) tobacco—raises your risk for gum disease. 

Does smoking cause bad breath?

Is there a special reason that smoking tobacco causes halitosis? Yes, there is - in fact, there are several reasons why people who smoke are far more likely to suffer from a particular type of oral odor called, what else, smoker's breath.
The most immediate way that cigarettes cause bad breath is by leaving smoke particles in the throat and lungs. This effect is typical of nearly any tobacco product that involves inhaling smoke or rolling it around in the mouth. The smell of a freshly smoked cigarette can linger in the lungs for hours, hence the stale scent associated with the smoker's breath.

Nine Reasons to Quit Smoking

Current medical thinking suggests that smoking suppresses the immune system1, leaving gums prone to infection. In fact, research has shown that smokers were more than 50 percent more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers. But if you need more reasons to take that first step to kick the habit, here’s a list of reasons to quit smoking. 

  1. Smokers incur twice the tooth loss of non-smokers, due to plaque and tartar buildup that encourages dental decay. 
  2. Smokers are diagnosed with infected tooth roots at twice the rate of non-smokers (and exposed roots are more sensitive to hot and cold foods and beverages, making eating painful). 
  3. Smoking reduces your ability to fight infection throughout the body, including in the mouth and gums. 
  4. Smoking causes bad breath (and it’s much more pleasant to kiss a non-smoker! 
  5. Smoking slows your body’s ability to heal from injury or surgery (including tooth extraction and oral surgery). 
  6. Smoking reduces the effectiveness of gum disease treatments (periodontal treatment) that stop or delay tooth loss. 
  7. Smoking can discolor teeth. (Did you know studies indicate that most people consider a white, healthy smile as an indicator of youth and vigor?) 
  8. Smoking can cause inflammation of the salivary gland openings on the roof of the mouth. 
  9. Tobacco use increases the risk of developing cancer. (According to the American Cancer Society, about 90% of people with cancer of the mouth, lips, tongue, and throat use tobacco, and the risk increases with the amount smoked or chewed and the duration of the habit. Smokers are six times more likely than non-smokers to develop these cancers.) 

Dental implants and smoking

Significantly greater proportions of implant failures occur in smokers (failure rate 11%) than in non-smokers (failure rate 5%).

We are not sure exactly why there is a poorer rate of success in smokers compared to non-smokers. However, it has recently been suggested that the increase in the number of implant failures in smokers is not the result of poor healing during the surgical part of the implant, but is due to the exposure of tobacco smoke to the gums around the implant. Peri-implantitis is the name given to gum disease around an implant, and chronic peri-implantitis results in implant failure when left untreated.

Programs designed to stop smoking show considerable promise in improving the success rate of dental implants in smokers, with significant differences in failure rates between:

  1. Non-smokers and smokers; and 
  2. Smokers who adopted the smoking cessation protocol and those who continue smoking. 

Special Dental Care for Smokers

If you haven’t quit smoking yet, here are a few dental tips that can help address your dental hygiene problems:
Use mouthwash religiously. You want to pick a strong formula that will zap bacteria. You also want to make sure you rinse for at least 60 seconds to kill as many bacteria as possible. Floss every day. Flossing is one of those habits that can quickly go out the window when you’re tired, or if you’ve had a long day, and you’re dying to crawl into bed. But flossing is especially vital for smokers, as it’s an effective way to avoid the buildup of calculus on teeth. If you notice a lot of bleeding as you floss, it could be a sign of early periodontal disease. Have your tongue and gums checked closely at your dental appointments? Let your dentist and hygienist know you are a smoker, so they can closely watch for signs of periodontal disease and oral cancer. The quicker you act after detecting something, the greater the chance of catching a serious problem early.


Smokers Welcome: Come to Check out Our Dental Office

Diva Dental Dental welcomes all patients to our practice, whether you’re a smoker or a non-smoker. We have helped many patients deal with gum disease and tooth issues caused by smoking. We can help with cosmetic dentistry procedures to restore your teeth to their former luster.
Contact us to schedule a visit today.


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