Effect of Smoking On Oral Health
Quitting smoking is not only critical for your overall health but also for your oral health.
While the smell of barbecue smoke is pleasant, the smoke from cigarettes is not as enjoyable. Unfortunately, there are still too many people who insist on smoking, unaware of the adverse effects it has on oral health. These effects extend beyond stained teeth or bad breath; the consequences are more far-reaching.
Due to the importance of this issue, we have decided to dedicate this article to the effect of smoking on oral health and reveal its destructive effects. Our aim is to open up your eyes and persuade you to quit smoking as quickly as possible.
Smoking And Oral Health
Some of the main issues caused by smoking include:
- Tooth discoloration
- Bad breath
- Increased buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth
- Increased risk of leukoplakia, with patches inside the mouth
- Inflammation of the salivary gland openings on the roof of the mouth
- Increased risk of developing gum disease, the main reason for tooth loss
- Increased risk of developing oral cancer
- Delayed healing process after tooth extraction, oral surgery, or periodontal treatment
- Lower success rate of dental implant procedure
- Increased loss of bone within the jaw
Moreover, traditional cigarettes, pipes, water pipes, e-cigarettes, cigars, and anything that uses smokeless tobacco can cause the following problems:
Gum disease, an infection of the gum, can damage the underlying bone structure that supports teeth in the jaw. In the worst cases, gum disease can result in tooth loss. One of the main differences between smokers’ mouths vs. non-smokers backs up this fact.
Smoking is known as one of the main reasons for gum disease because it prolongs the gum’s healing process after an infection and weakens the bones’ ability to fight against infection.
According to Medical News Today magazine, smokers are more likely to develop gum disease compared to non-smokers. The symptoms of gum disease include:
- Sensitive teeth
- Teeth loss
- Bleeding when brushing
- Swollen and tender gum
Effect of smoking on oral health: Tooth decay
Compared to non-smokers, smokers are likely prone to tooth decay.
How it can happen? The answer is hidden in the nicotine present in tobacco; it slows down the ability of the mouth to produce sufficient saliva, therefore bringing up a dry mouth.
Saliva plays a crucial role in preventing tooth decay as it washes away bacteria and food particles from the teeth. It also aids in stopping every stage of tooth decay.
The bad news is that young children who are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke have increased rates of tooth decay in primary teeth compared to children who are not exposed.
Stained teeth, loss of taste and smell, and bad breath
Tar and nicotine in tobacco can turn the color of teeth into an undesirable yellow. Another effect of smoking on oral health is bad breath, as well as a loss of sense of taste and smell.
Research shows that tobacco can easily increase the risk of oral cancer in the cheeks, lips, tongue, sinuses, salivary glands, throat, mouth floor, and hard and soft palate.
Poor birth outcomes
Smoking pregnant mothers are likely prone to miscarriage, low-birthweight babies, delivering babies too early, and facing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Moreover, the birth rate of babies with cleft palate/or cleft lip, a condition where the baby’s upper lip or mouth roof doesn’t properly join during fetal development, is considerably higher in smoker mothers.
Practicing Oral Hygiene in Smokers
Cigarette smoke not only lets bacteria thrive in your mouth but also causes the lingering smoke’s smell on your breath. Both of these factors emphasize the importance of maintaining a diligent oral hygiene practice.
Smokers need to brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss their teeth once a day. We recommend smokers use interdental brushes or water flossers to clean the areas between the teeth.
Don’t forget to use antimicrobial mouth rinses and tongue scrapers. A regular dental checkup is necessary to make sure the teeth and gum are in healthy condition.
Please note that if you find any irregularities or sensitivities in your mouth, don’t wait until your next appointment; see your dental professional right away!
Effect of Smoking on Oral Health: Whiten Smoker’s Teeth
One of the main effects of smoking on oral health is the gradual staining of the tooth enamel over time. Due to that, we insist on quitting any kind of cigarette, as it can reverse some of these adverse effects.
To whiten smoker’s teeth, there are two options available:
At-home treatment and professional dental treatment.
For at-home treatment, you can use whitening toothpaste containing bleaching agents and abrasive qualities that can help you gently polish your enamel and remove stains. Additionally, we advise you to add mouth rinses with hydrogen peroxide to your oral hygiene routine. You can also use whitening gel pens, coating them with a peroxide gel to effectively remove any hardened residual plaque left over from smoking.
Unlike at-home whitening treatment, professional dental treatment may cost you a bit more, but if your stains are hard enough to remove with over-the-counter products, you probably have no choice except to ask a dental professional for help.
They apply a whitening gel and then use ultraviolet light on your teeth to enhance the whitening process. Whereas at-home products can help, you may experience totally different, profound results from this professional treatment.
Effect of Smoking on Oral Health: Vaping and Oral Health
Valid research at NYU College of Dentistry shows that e-cigarettes, like traditional cigarettes, can flourish bacteria in the mouth and contribute to gum disease. The study reveals the growth of a unique oral microbiome that is less healthy than that of non-smokers and may lead to gum disease over time.
Please note that gum disease in the U.S. only affects half of the adults over 30 years, and smokers are more prone to this disease.
This research studied 84 adults and grouped them into 3 categories: cigarette smokers, e-cigarette smokers, and people who have never smoked. All participants had some gum disease, but the severity of the disease in cigarette smokers was high compared to the two other groups, and e-cigarette users were in second position.
After six months, researchers found the disease had worsened in some participants, including several e-cigarette smokers.
Clinical attachment loss, which involves the separation of gum ligaments and tissue from the tooth’s surface, is a key indicator of gum disease. These pockets can easily thrive bacteria in the mouth and result in severe gum disease.
A similar study shows that clinical attachment loss was considerably worse in e-cigarette users than in non-smokers or even cigarette smokers. The reason hides in the different oral microbiomes in the e-cigarette mouth. In fact, several bacteria are known to be associated with gum disease, which is particularly prevalent in the mouths of e-cigarette users. It seems vaporized cigarettes drive unique patterns in bacteria and influence the growth of some of them.
In particular, vaping was linked with different levels of cytokines, special proteins that help regulate the immune system, but certain cytokines (known as TNFα) can imbalance oral bacteria, making people prone to inflammation and infection and, consequently, worsening gum disease.
In conclusion, the distinct microbiome of e-cigarette users is a key factor in changing the immune response, and when coupled with clinical signs of gum disease, it demonstrates a great challenge for oral health.
Kick the Tobacco Habit
Regardless of how long you smoke and use tobacco products, quitting now can help you reduce its consequences and adverse effects. 11 years after quitting smoking, the probability of having periodontal (gum) disease is not significantly different from that of people who never smoked.
Based on the study, a reduction in the amount of smoke, particularly less than half a pack a day, can reduce the risk of gum disease three times, which is significantly lower than the six-times higher risk for those who smoke more than a pack and a half per day.
Another study shows that mouth lesion leukoplakia in patients who used smokeless tobacco products was 97.5% completely resolved within 6 weeks of quitting.
The following statistics explicitly show why we should quit all kinds of cigarette products:
- 90% of the reason for cancer of the mouth, tongue, lip, and throat is tobacco. Moreover, the risk of developing each of these cancers is highly linked to the amount of time spent chewing tobacco products or smoking any kind of cigarette per day. In other words, the likelihood of having each of these cancers in smokers is six times greater than in non-smokers.
- Approximately 37% of patients who continue smoking after their cancer appears to be cured will develop secondary mouth, lip, tongue, and throat cancers, compared to only 6% of those who give up smoking.
Are e-cigarette products safe?
No, smokeless tobacco products, including snuff and chewing tobacco, contain at least 28 chemicals that all have an adverse effect on oral health and may even cause oral cancer in the throat and esophagus.
Please note that chewing tobacco contains a higher level of nicotine, and quitting is much more difficult than quitting traditional cigarettes.
Smokeless tobacco can easily lead to gum tissue irritation, resulting in recession or detachment from the teeth. After the recession of gum tissue, your tooth roots become exposed, and ultimately, the risk of tooth decay increases significantly.
Additionally, to flavor smokeless tobacco, sugars are added that can speed up the process of tooth decay four times faster than others. Plus, the sand and grit in smokeless tobacco products can easily wear down your teeth.
How does smoking cause gum disease?
Smokers are more likely to produce bacteria plaque, the main reason for gum disease. Moreover, smoking causes a dry mouth and a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, which speeds up the process of gum disease and hinders the healing process.
How does smoking cause oral cavities?
Smoking can contribute to oral cavities in several ways:
- Dry mouth: Smoking can reduce saliva production in the mouth. Saliva helps us wash away food particles and plaque from our teeth and neutralize acids.
- Increased bacteria growth: Smoking flourishes the unhealthy bacteria in the mouth and alters the oral microbiome, which ultimately results in tooth decay.
- Reduced immune system: Smoking weakens the immune system, impairing the body’s natural defense mechanism against bacteria that cause cavities.
- Decreased blood flow and healing: Smoking has an adverse effect on blood circulation. Therefore, it reduces the blood flow to the gum and oral tissue, impairing the healing process and leading to gum recession and tooth decay.
- The adverse effects of nicotine and tar: Nicotine and tar in any kind of tobacco product are the biggest enemies of our tooth enamel. They can discolor teeth, weaken the enamel, and ultimately make them more susceptible to decay.
The effects of smoking on oral health aren’t something that can be easily neglected. Smoking can bring us many difficulties down the road, from tooth discoloration to gum disease and oral cancer. Even vaping and e-cigarettes, which unfortunately are very common among people due to the vast advertisements, can contribute to gum disease and provide a good environment for growing unhealthy oral bacteria in the mouth.
Nevertheless, if you’re still smoking, we highly advise you to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mir at York Orthodontics to ensure your dental is in healthy condition.