We are all aware of the fact that smoking has a great number of negative effects on the health of the smoker. Due to the nature of the activity itself, it is only natural that mouth, i.e. oral health is most negatively affected by smoking. While it would be the best option to stop smoking entirely, we will give you a few tips how to take extra care of your mouth and teeth. Through proper oral care, you can prevent further damage to your teeth and gums.
Many people still do not realize the damage that smoking does to their teeth, gums and mouth. In case you have forgotten and need to remind yourself, here is a list of the many dental problems caused by smoking:
- Bad breath.
- Tooth discoloration.
- Inflammation of the salivary gland openings in the mouth.
- Increased plaque and tartar on the teeth.
- Increased loss of bone within the jaw.
- Increased risk of gum disease.
- Increased risk of tooth loss.
- Increased risk of leukoplakia in the mouth (a mucous membrane disorder characterized by white patches).
- Increased risk of oral cancer.
- Slower healing process after treatments like tooth extraction, periodontal treatment, or oral surgery.
- Lower success rate of dental implant procedures.
Smoking affects teeth and gums because smoking changes the type of bacteria in your mouth, increasing the number of bacteria that are more harmful. It also reduces the blood flow in the gums and affects the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth, which makes them more susceptible to inflammation. Smokers’ gum disease will deteriorate more quickly than in people who do not smoke and gum disease is still the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.
The same applies to cigar smokers and pipe smokers who also have a similar risk of tooth loss as cigarette smokers. Even if they do not inhale, pipe and cigar smokers are still at risk for oral and throat cancers, as well as other oral consequences, such as stained teeth, bad breath and increased risk of gum disease.
Luckily, there are special dental care products for smokers that will help remove the smoking stains and improve the overall appearance of your mouth, as well as your breath. E.g., there are special toothpaste types for people who smoke. However, keep in mind that they are a little more aggressive than ordinary pastes so use them with care. You may use the special toothpaste in the morning and the usual one in the evening. Your dentist may also recommend whitening toothpaste because they help remove tooth stains. Mouthwashes are also a must-have for smokers because people who smoke tend to have bad breath. However, this is a short-term solution against bad breath, but it does help. It is also essential that you have dental appointments regularly. Your dentist will recommend how often because people who smoke are more likely to have stained teeth and gum disease, and therefore should visit dentist more often. The dentist will examine your mouth to make sure that your teeth and gums are healthy.
To protect your teeth and gums from the negative effects of smoking, remember the following:
- Quitting smoking would definitely be the most effective way to ensure better oral health.
- Brush, floss, use a tongue cleaner and mouthwash on a regular basis, at least twice a day.
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings.
- Use toothbrush with bristles stiff and strong enough to remove the hard stains left by tar and that can reach the difficult areas in the back of the gums.
- Use toothpaste and mouthwash made specifically for smokers.
- Avoid foods and drinks (acidic foods, sweets, coffee, soda, alcohol) that cause further staining on your teeth, besides the damages already done by tobacco.
- Eat food high in vitamin C (all citrus fruits, tomatoes, kiwi, strawberries, bell peppers) and cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, watercress).
While we are not trying to convince you to stop smoking, we definitely encourage you to choose some of the methods to protect your teeth and gums from the negative consequences of cigarettes. Also, keep in mind that not only your oral health is at risk if you are a smoker; smoking has a terrible impact on the overall health. However, your smile is the first thing people see. Make sure it is healthy-looking and bright!