For many years it has been recognised that smoking and chewing tobacco is bad for our general health and most people are now aware of that. It can cause a variety of different medical problems and, in some cases, fatal diseases. However, many people don’t realise the damage that smoking does to their mouth, gums and teeth.
Smoking can cause bad breath, staining, gum disease, recession of gums, early tooth loss, failure of implants, less success with periodontal treatment, loss of taste, facial wrinkling and in more severe cases oral cancer.
Staining is caused by the nicotine and tar content in the cigarette. It can make teeth appear yellow or black in appearance and stain margins of filled teeth. Whilst the black stain can be removed by visiting the surgery for a scale and polish it will be unsightly in between visits. Yellow teeth may be whitened but this does not solve the problem long term.
Patients who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque, which can lead to gum disease. Smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream therefore infected gums are much harder to heal. This in time can lead to bone loss and subsequent recession of the gums, has the potential to make teeth mobile resulting in early tooth loss.
Surprisingly, smoking can disguise the superficial signs and symptoms of active gum inflammation such as bleeding as it narrows the tiny blood vessels in the gums making smokers unaware that there is a problem.
Patients who smoke are at a greater risk of infection and heal a lot more slowly following extractions, periodontal treatment and oral surgery than non smokers.
If a patient smokes immediately after implants are placed this negatively affects blood flow to the bone and tissues surrounding the gums and teeth, which impairs bone healing. It can cause Implants to fail as the implant may not integrate with the surrounding bone tissues.
Smoking can also damage taste buds, tar and chemicals in cigarettes create a coating on the tongue making them less effective. The affected taste buds make food taste increasingly bland.
Oral cancer is on the increase in the UK and Ireland. Smoking causes three quarters of all mouth cancers. It is very important for smokers to attend the surgery regularly for a full mouth examination so that the Dentist can checked not only your teeth but your lips tongue cheeks and associated oral tissues so that if there is something is wrong can be picked up early. It is also important for patients without teeth to attend on a regular basis as the same applies whether you have teeth or not!
There are many reasons for quitting smoking not only will your general health improve but so will your oral health.
At Creative Smiles we understand that quitting smoking can be very difficult and are only too happy to discuss smoking cessation and help you take that important first step in quitting.