The Effect of Smoking on Dental Health
We all think we are perfectly aware of the danger smoking poses to our body, and a few people might even think that it’s high time we all stopped getting so worked up about smoking and dangers. We know it all, they say, and your preaching doesn’t help anyone. Well, the anti-smoking campaigns certainly can be a tad overaggressive, but we still think that rational discussion should be appreciated and condoned. It’s important to know the dangers, after all, and they won’t go away.
Aside from overall negative effects on the human body – including CVD, various types of cancer, bronchitis, infections, and, of course, addictions – smoking also has marked negative effects on the smokers’ dental health, which is something us dentists are especially concerned about.
The negative effects of smoking on dental health are numerous, and range from aesthetic deterioration to life-threatening and often fatal illnesses.
- To start with, smoking can and often does lead to gum disease. It increases the build-up on plaque and tartar, which causes inflammation of the gums. Due to less oxygen available in the blood, they cannot heal as fast and the inflammation becomes chronic; the gums may even recede. Gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults.
- Smoking also reduces the success rate and increases the chance of adverse outcomes after dental extractions and placing of crowns and dental implants. That is why smokers are advised against smoking for at least a week after undertaking such procedures. The recovery and healing process is delayed.
- Smoking affects our perception of smell and taste. Smokers experience a dulled sense of taste and smell which directly affects their quality of live and may cause them to overindulge in sugary and salty food, which can have adverse effects on their bodyweight and blood pressure.
- Bad breath is a common effect of smoking, and anyone who does not smoke can attest to smelling a smoker just by talking to them at least once in their lifetime. These smells are not always pleasant and can lead to negative social consequences.
- Smoking causes not only lung and throat cancer, but is also responsible for mouth cancer. If you smoke, your dentist will more aggressively check for any potential signs of early stage oral cancer.
Aside from such serious health issues, smoking also impacts the look of your teeth. While we will not dispute the potential attractiveness of a lit cigarette at the right moment (as attested by various films in the 50’s and the 60’s), it’s important to note that such attractiveness is fleeting. What is not, though, is the discoloration brought about by tobacco smoking. Discolored teeth are very common among smokers and is one of the major causes of the condition, along with wine, coffee and tea consumption. Tar and nicotine are responsible for the discoloration. Although nicotine is colorless, when it comes in contact with oxygen, it assumes a yellowish hue. As for tar – the residue from smoking – well, it does not look pretty at all. Professional teeth whitening can help alleviate the condition. Once your teeth are whitened, the shade will hold for six months to a year – after which it will have to be repeated.
Of course, such a treatment is only cosmetic in nature, but is certainly helpful, especially if you’re considering giving up smoking. It can serve as a powerful motivator, as the people who don’t smoke usually do not need a repeat procedure until much later – sometimes as much as two years, depending on what shade is acceptable to you.
The damage that smoking causes is, however, not just cosmetic in nature. It is very serious and presents an immediate threat to your dental health; which is why your dentist will always try to encourage you to stop smoking, or at least cut down. In the meantime, diligent dental routine, incorporating flossing and mouthwash can at least minimize the damage.
Regular dental check-ups are mandatory, as smokers are at a greater risk of developing various diseases. Visiting your dentist often might very well save your life if, for example, mouth cancer is spotted in the early stage.
For further information on dangers of smoking, you can always contact your dentist or set up an appointment with our renowned cosmetic dentist, Dr. George Harouni, DDS in Las Vegas, NV (Henderson, NV) area. His team of experts will do their best to answer any questions you might have.