Smoking and Dental Problems - A Guide to Stop Smoking

We know that smoking causes halitosis (bad breath) as well as staining the teeth and gums. If you had a nice, white smile to start with then you can be sure that smoking will change this to an unattractive yellow one!

But these aesthetic problems are just one aspect of smoking. Smoking is responsible for a range of dental problems which include:

  • Receding gums and increased tooth sensitivity
  • Increased risk of oral and throat cancer
  • Delayed healing following dental treatment
  • Smoker’s palate
  • Increased risk of tooth decay
  • Increased risk of gum disease

Smoking causes the gums to recede which then reveal the roots of the teeth themselves. The problem with this is that these exposed roots heighten the sensitivity of your teeth to hot and cold food/liquids.

How do you know if you have sensitive teeth? You will experience a sharp pain in your teeth when you eat something cold or have a hot drink.

Oral and throat cancer can be caused by a variety of factors but the biggest one is cigarette smoke. The toxins contained in cigarette smoke trigger the growth of cancerous cells in various areas of the mouth which include the larynx, tongue, sinuses and oesophagus.

Smoking affects the body’s ability to heal properly. It doesn’t matter what form of treatment you have undergone, for example dental surgery as it damages the cells responsible for healing wounds and so delays the recovery period.

One example is if you have a tooth extraction. Smoking increases the risks of complications and slows down the healing of the empty socket following an extraction. What smoking basically does is to negate the effects of any dental work undertaken and makes it more difficult for the dentist to achieve a successful result.

Smoking doesn’t just affect your teeth and gums; it can inflame the roof of your mouth (palate) which leads to the formation of small lesions. This condition is called ‘smoker’s palate’ and is more common amongst pipe smokers.

In regard to gum disease and tooth decay: smoking restricts blood flow into the gums which results in them becoming inflamed and swollen. They also start to loosen around the teeth which allow bacteria to form in these gaps, leading to diseases such as gingivitis. If this is allowed to happen then it can lead to more serious problems such as periodontitis, abscess and bone damage.

Cigarette smoke also prevents the flow of saliva in the mouth which is vital for removing food debris. If this is stopped then bacteria will form which attacks the teeth leading to decay and eventual loss.

Many of these conditions can be cured and good health restored to your teeth and gums. However, the best form of treatment is prevention which means stopping smoking.

If you want to quit smoking but don’t know where to start then visit our Stopping Smoking section.

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