Grosse Pointe & Shelby Township


The Damaging Effects of Smoking on Oral Health

A smoker breaking his cigarette due to the effects of smoking on oral health

Smoking may be on the decline, but it’s still more common than you may think. Many know that smoking carries risks but may not know exactly how bad it is. In addition to major issues like lung cancer and heart health, the effects of smoking on oral health are serious and can lead to a lifetime of trouble and embarrassment.

If you smoke or know someone who does, read on to learn about the damaging and dangerous effects of smoking on dental health to better understand how important it is to quit.

The Worst Effects of Smoking on Oral Health

Gum Disease

Bacteria in your mouth, if left unchecked, will eventually lead to gum disease. The initial stages of gum disease can be benign and are easy to control. However, as a smoker, the rate and severity that gum disease develops is accelerated versus non-smokers.

As gum disease progress, its effects are wide-ranging. The increased inflammation can impact your whole-body health, increased gum sensitivity can make it harder to brush, and receding gums leave you more exposed to additional bacteria.

Bone & Tooth Loss

Your mouth relies on the surrounding bone for structure and support. As periodontal disease advances, it causes bone loss in this area. As you lose density in your jawbone, your teeth will inevitably fall out.

Tooth loss is a compounding issue – the gap from missing teeth, along with the challenges in eating and speaking make it a far greater problem than simply being without the tooth. More importantly, as you lose teeth, the gaps left behind allow bacteria to spread more effectively and be harder to clean out. In the long term, this makes it much more likely to lose even more teeth!

Oral Cancer

Of course, one of the most undeniably severe risks of smoking and your oral health is the increased chance of developing oral cancer. If you smoke, you’re 10 times more likely to develop oral cancer than the general population!

Living with oral cancer is challenging. You can have complications with:

  • Eating
  • Speaking
  • Swallowing

All of these are critical aspects of being social and simply living. It’s difficult to overstate the devastating effects of any cancer. Dealing with oral cancer involves frequent medical appointments and lifestyle changes. Taking any steps to avoid the possibility of oral cancer – including smoking cessation – should be a high priority!

Increased Bacteria

Bacteria are the most dangerous risk to your oral health. All of the other issues with oral health stem from bacteria thriving in your mouth. Decay, cavities, enamel erosion and gum disease all start with bacteria.

Smoking makes it harder for your body to repel foreign bacteria. As you smoke, you make it more likely that bacteria in your mouth can take hold and harden into plaque or tartar. The longer bacteria stays, the more symptoms you’ll experience.

Other Effects of Smoking on Oral Health

While the worst effects of smoking on oral health are cause for serious concern, even the considerably more benign effects are important to note.

Stained Teeth

Cosmetic issues may not impact your physical health, but they can be damaging to your self-esteem. Tobacco use inevitably stains your teeth, and there’s little that can be done. The chemicals in cigarettes are absorbed into your teeth and will remain for a significant time even if you stop.

No amount of brushing will remove the stains entirely. There are some solutions, like using baking soda and peroxide as a home whitening solution. Professional in-office whitening can go even farther, but if you keep smoking, the stains will never go away entirely.

Bad Breath

In addition to staining your teeth, nicotine and chemical in cigarettes also “stain” your breath. The odor of a smoker’s breath is unmistakable. It’s also quite pungent!

Bad breath from smoking can be devastating to confidence and your ability to function in social situations. It can be off-putting in personal and professional relationships.

Like teeth stains, you can cover up bad breath from smoking but it’s essentially impossible to fix completely outside of giving up cigarettes. Constant mouthwash and gum can only do so much, and it’s a constant fight just to minimize the offensive smell that cigarettes have to non-smokers.

Dry Mouth

Xerostomia, more commonly referred to as dry mouth, is an overlooked risk for your oral health. On the surface, it’s a minor inconvenience. It may make it difficult to speak or swallow, and can be quite uncomfortable. Unfortunately for smokers, it’s hard to avoid.

More importantly, however, is the long-term effect of dry mouth. Saliva is one of your core defenses against oral health issues. It keeps your pH levels balanced, washes away food particles and bacteria. When your mouth ceases saliva production, your risks of decay, cavities and gum disease rise.

A Healthy Smile Leads to a Healthy Body

We want to help you maintain good oral health and a beautiful smile. Regular teeth cleaning and dental check-ups are an important part of your routine, just like brushing and flossing. Schedule an appointment with us or call and take the first step toward keeping your smile radiant.

Grosse Pointe Farms: (313) 881-2480

Shelby Township: (586) 803-8300

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