The majority of people are aware of how dangerous tobacco products are for your health, but many people aren’t aware of the negative effects that smoking and smokeless tobacco has on your teeth and gums. Contrary to popular belief, smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, may lack the smoke that is associated with causing lung cancer; however, it still contains over 20 cancer-causing agents. Whether it is smoking or smokeless tobacco, either form of use can lead to nicotine addiction and increase the risk of cancer as well as cause a variety of oral health problems that require extensive treatments from the dentist or oral surgeon. It goes without saying that smoking can have serious effects on your overall systemic health (like the previously mentioned lung cancer). In other cases, it may require one to have life-altering surgical procedures to remove diseased tissue around the head and neck area. This blog will take a more focused look at how tobacco can affect the teeth and gums specifically.
Effects of Tobacco on Teeth and Gums
All tobacco products contain various poisonous chemicals, including nicotine, tar and hydrogen cyanide; all of these pass through your mouth while chewing tobacco or smoking. Not only do these chemicals increase your risk of damaging your health, but they also leave a sticky residue on your teeth that result in staining. These residues also gradually build up in your mouth and on your gums, which may lead to gum disease or oral cancer. Tooth staining is the most common problem resulting from tobacco use. Smoking reduces the flow of saliva in your mouth, which possesses cleansing qualities and thus protects teeth from tooth decay. Think of it as being the body’s way of naturally washing away food debris from the teeth. When the mouth is very dry, this phenomenon doesn’t occur as effectively, or at all. Other effects that tobacco can have on your oral health may include:
- Inflammation on the roof of your mouth
- Reduction in the supply of nutrients to the mouth, which helps to keep gums healthy
- Restriction of blood flow to your gums, which delays the healing of infected gums, or after a tooth extraction
- Chronic bad breath
- Tooth loss and gum disease
Dental Treatments for Tobacco-Related Problems
One of the most important things you can do for your oral health is to quit using tobacco products; continued use will significantly increase the risk of dental problems. It is important to practice proper dental care, including brushing and flossing regularly and visiting the dentist for routine cleanings and exams. There is a wide variety of treatments your dentist can provide that will help you have a healthy smile, including:
- Teeth whitening
- Dental implants/dentures to replace missing teeth
- Porcelain veneers to treat deeply discoloured teeth
Your smile is one of the first things other people notice about you, so it is important for your health, self-esteem and confidence to take proper care of your smile. If you quit smoking before turning 30, it may reduce the risk levels of tooth, gum and mouth damage by more than 97 percent. The sooner you stop using tobacco products and seek the appropriate dental treatment, the sooner you can have a brighter, healthier smile.
If you want to learn more about how tobacco affects your teeth and gums or if you want to schedule an appointment to learn about how you can have a whiter, brighter smile, please contact us at Brewery District Dental, and we will be happy to schedule a consultation.