The dangers that smoking poses to oral health is not widely known, but its effects can be severe and even have deadly consequences. From gum disease to tooth loss and even oral cancer, tobacco use affects every area of the mouth.
A smoker’s breath is notoriously unpleasant and can be difficult to treat. Chemicals from the tobacco linger in the mouth, and traces of smoke linger in the lungs for some time after smoking. Tobacco use can also cause dry mouth and create an environment for bacteria to grow; these bacteria then produce an odor, further contributing to bad breath.
The nicotine and tar in tobacco can cause serious, often permanent staining to the enamel of your teeth. The enamel can turn yellow very quickly, eventually becoming brown with years of smoking.
Gum tissue suffers heavily from the use of tobacco. Smoking increases the presence of bacteria in the mouth, which create plaque and tartar that irritate the gums. The irritation leads to gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. This is compounded by the fact that smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream and suppresses the immune response, making it harder for the body to heal from problems like gum disease.
Cavities and Tooth Infections
The increase in bacteria significantly raises the risk of tooth decay in those who smoke. As these bacteria create more plaque and tartar, it eats through the tooth enamel into the soft inner layers of the tooth, causing an infection that may require root canal therapy or extraction of the affected tooth.
On top of needing infected teeth to be extracted, smokers can lose teeth due to tobacco-fueled gum disease. As gum disease worsens, the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth, weakening their support and allowing bacteria to form pockets of infection beneath the gum line. This can eventually cause teeth to fall out completely.
Smoking is one of the main causes of oral cancer. This cancer can develop in any of the soft tissues in the mouth, including the gums, cheeks, tongue, and palate. It is possible for this cancer to develop without showing visible signs, making it difficult to detect without specialized screening. The weakened immune system also makes it harder to fight oral cancer. Thousands of people die each year from tobacco-related oral cancers.
Whether you continue to smoke or have smoked in the past, dealing with the effects of smoking requires the help of a dental professional. Foothills Family Dental provides treatment and education to patients dealing with the effects of smoking. For more information, contact our Fort Collins office today.