How Can Smoking Affect my Oral Health

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Nowadays, people are more aware of the effects of smoking and its impact on their health but are not well aware of the detrimental consequences of smoking on oral cavity. Smoking has a negative effect on the gum and is one of the factors that contributes to Opens internal link in current windowgum disease. It also stains teeth and has been linked to oral cancer.

 Why are my teeth stained?

Staining off the teeth is due to tobacco, which contains tar and nicotine, which cause your teeth to appear yellow.

How will smoking affect my gums and teeth?

We have an infection fighter in our body, which is known as the immune system. Smoking makes the immune system weaker. This can be noticed in smokers with gum disease. When the biofilm (plaque) starts building up around the teeth and starts irritating the gums (causing gingivitis) the body starts to send its fighting cells (the immune system cells, white cells) to fight the plaque that contains bacteria and microbes.  This is evident on gums that have not been cleaned from the plaque. As the body sends more blood to the gum the gum swells up and bleeds easily. That is why people with gum inflammation notice blood in the sink when they brush their teeth. When the gums bleed people get alarmed and they decide to see a dentist as they worry about their gums.  Smoking causes the small blood vessels in the gums to close up. This prevents the blood to come to the areas where plaque is building up. So the response to the attack of the bacteria on the gum is more muted. No apparent blood can be seen in smokers with gum disease. So smokers can live with gum disease that leads to bone recession and tooth mobility without alarming signs from the gums


If you are a smoker:

-You run 3-7 times the risk of gum disease in contrast to a non-smoker.

-Treatment of gum disease might not work as well on heavy smokers compared to non-smokers.

 Do Pipe and Cigar Smoking Cause Dental Problems?

Yes, cigars and pipes do cause dental problems like cigarettes. According to a study in Journal of American Dental Association, people who smoke cigarettes tend to have tooth and jaw bone loss at the same rate as in cigar smokers. People who smoke pipe also experience similar risks. Moreover, they also have a risk of oral and throat  (pharyngeal) cancers. Other effects include stained teeth, Opens internal link in current windowbad breath and gum disease.

Are Smokeless Tobacco Products Safer?

No. Smokeless tobacco products consist of around 28 chemicals. This increases the risk of oral, throat and esophagus cancer.


Are there special dental products I can use as a smoker?

There are different toothpastes that are used for people who smoke. These should be used carefully as such toothpastes are abrasive (coarse) compared to the normal toothpastes. Your dentist will advise you about which toothpastes is best to use. Also, there are whitening toothpastes available, which help in removing staining and improve your aesthetics.

Having your teeth cleaned professionally by a dentist or a hygienist will improve the state of your gums considerably. Also you will be instructed how to maintain your oral health by your dentist or hygienist.

 What about mouthwashes?

Smokers usually tend to have bad breath. To overcome this they try different types of mouthwashes to get better breath. Mouthwashes are only temporary solution. They usually work for a short time and disguise the real problem that lies in the gums.

To get help with your bad breath and possible gum disease you should seek professional help from a dentist or a hygienist.


How often should I visit my dentist?
It is essential that you visit your dentist regularly. Most patients will see a dentist once a year but patients with higher risk of getting decay and gum inflammations are advised to see their dentist at least every six months or more often than that.

It is also important for smokers to see their dentist regularly to detect early signs or oral cancer that is linked to smoking.