What Does Smoking Do To Your Teeth
Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are an estimated 34.1 million smokers in the United States as of 2019? This means that nearly 14 people out of 100 of age adults are current smokers. This is not an insignificant amount of people who are now at risk for smoking-related dental issues. But, what are smoking-related dental issues, and how does dental care change for smokers? Here’s the answer from Dr. Tim Loughran of Tim Loughran Dentistry.
Tobacco’s Harmful Effects
Tobacco has some harmful effects on your teeth. Smoking cigarettes decreases your body’s ability to fight off infection, which allows plaque and bacteria to take control. This increased amount of plaque and bacteria leads to other issues:
The use of tobacco eventually leads to discolored and stained teeth. The chemicals in tobacco cling to your teeth, causing your teeth to yellow and become discolored. While using teeth whitening treatments can slow this process down, it can’t stop it if you continue to smoke.
Smoking causes both short-term and long-term effects when it comes to bad breath. In the short term, cigarette particles remain in the mouth and cause bad breath. In the long term, the increased amount of bacteria in the mouth of a smoker also leads to bad breath. Unfortunately, simply brushing your teeth, using mouthwash, and other forms of at-home dental care won’t help this bad breath. To get rid of it, the solution is to quit smoking.
Smokers are much more prone to gum disease than nonsmokers, and the risk increases with every cigarette smoked. And, in addition, gum disease treatments are not as effective on smokers as they are on smokers. This is because of the increased amount of bacteria that builds up in a smoker’s mouth. Letting the bacteria build up and not treating it leads to the gums pulling away from the teeth and weakens the existing bone structure.
Oral cancer is the most serious and severe of the dental issues that smoking leads to. Starting out as a white or red patch in the mouth that is combined with difficulty chewing, trouble swallowing, or jaw numbness, oral cancer is something that smokers should be on the lookout for. For anyone experiencing these symptoms for longer than two weeks, it would be best practice to see a doctor.
Solving Smoking-Related Dental Issues
Dentists can help create a plan to mitigate smoking-related issues, but there is only one way to make them completely go away. To completely get rid of smoking-related dental issues, one should stop smoking.