Cigarette Smoking, Oral Hygiene and Your Teeth
Smoking wreaks havoc on your teeth, gums oral hygiene, dentures, dental implants, and just about everything else associated with the mouth. If you thought that lung cancer and other lung-related maladies were the only things you had to worry about as a smoker, read this article.
Let’s start by talking about your teeth. Once we shed our baby teeth and grow adult teeth, they become the teeth we will use for the rest of our lives. According to a U.S. study, smokers are twice as likely to lose their teeth as are non-smokers, making smoking one of the leading causes of tooth loss. If your teeth don’t fall out, there’s a good chance you’ll develop a dangerous layer of bacterial plaque, as your teeth will take on a sickly, yellow color. As well as being un-healthy, discolored teeth are aesthetically un-pleasing.
Besides damage to teeth, smoking does terrible things to the gums. One example is periodontal disease, which causes bleeding gums when soft tissue and anchoring bone are destroyed. This leads to tooth loss. Moving a little deeper, we find that smoking reduces saliva flow, which makes it difficult for the mouth to clean itself. This causes bad breath and other problems. Additionally, smoking also damages taste buds and your sense of smell. Besides lung cancer, smoking can also cause mouth cancer, throat cancer, and lip cancers.
Obviously, quitting smoking is the best thing you can do, but if you don’t want to do that, or are not quite ready to make the commitment, there are still several things you can try to keep your teeth and mouth as healthy as possible. First of all, tell your dentist that you smoke and request a periodontal disease screening to get a sense of how your gums are doing. Your dentist then may advise you to clean your teeth more frequently or that you use special toothpaste. Cleaning your tongue with a tongue cleaner can also be useful, as well as the habitual use of dental floss and mouthwash.
But let’s face facts. No amount of dental floss, mouthwash or smoker’s toothpaste is going to ensure that your mouth remains as healthy as one belonging to a non-smoker – only quitting can do that, assuming all your teeth haven’t fallen out already. If you are a frequent smoker, who has been struggling to quit, we recommend you schedule an appointment with your family doctor for the best methods and solutions. In addition, we would be happy to give you a full examination of your mouth and teeth, to determine exactly what damage has been done to date. Don’t give up! There is hope yet and we are ready to do everything we can to ensure your teeth will continue to perform for years to come.
This article is about the effects of smoking on your mouth, teeth and gums. A certified prosthodontist may be able to help restore teeth that have suffered damage do to excessive smoking.