It is a fact that smoking has bad effects on overall health. It causes various lungs, skin, and heart diseases. But aside from these, smoking can cause oral health problems as well.
Oral Health problems Caused by Smoking
- Smoking causes many serious teeth and gum problems. The most common among these is the increased risk of gum disease. Smokers are four times more likely to develop this disease than non-smokers.
Gum disease occurs when a build-up of plaques targets the gum tissues, the alveolar bone, periodontal ligament, and cementum. Problems in these structures cause tooth loss. This is why smokers are twice more likely to suffer from tooth loss than non-smokers.
Alveolar bone is the bone where the teeth are embedded.
Periodontal ligaments are tissue fibers that attach the teeth to the alveolar bone.
The cementum is the calcified tissue layer covering the roots of the tooth.
- Smokers also have a higher risk of developing leukoplakia. This is a condition where white patches are formed inside the mouth. Leukoplakia can lead to mouth, throat, and oral cancers.
Oral cancer is a common disease that affects around 54,000 Americans each year according to oralcancerfoundation.org. You do not have to smoke to suffer from oral cancer. But 75% of the oral cancer patients are smokers!
- Smokers have harder times recovering from dental procedures. Examples are tooth extraction, dental implants, and gum treatments.
- Smokers have a higher risk of developing dry sockets from tooth extraction. When this happens, it causes severe pain because the bone and nerve endings are exposed.
- Smokers who go through orthodontic treatments may get stains on their teeth or braces.
- Treatments for gum disease may not be very effective for people who smoke.
- Smoking increases plaque and tartar build-up. This also causes tooth stains and bad breath.
- Smokers may lose their sense of taste and smell.
- Smoking can lead to loss of bone within the jaw.
- Tobacco use reduces the health of your immune system over time.
Cigarette smoking may be the most common source of oral diseases. But other tobacco consumption like pipe and cigar smoke also leads to disease.
Toothbrushes play an important role in keeping the mouth healthy. Since smoking can cause many problems, using the right toothbrush can go a long way.
Smokers need a flexible toothbrush so it can brush even the hard-to-reach areas. This is important because substances from cigarettes get stuck in these areas.
Using a toothbrush with a comfortable handle also helps. This makes it easy to navigate around your mouth and clean every surface of your teeth.
Toothbrushes made for smokers are recommended. These brushes have stiffer bristles. These bristles effectively remove tobacco and food stains. Electric toothbrushes are effective as well.
Bad breath is a common problem among smokers. A multi-purpose mouthwash is best when dealing with bad breath and other problems caused by smoking.
However, if you have heavy stains caused by smoking, you may need professional treatment.
Dental Hygiene Tips for Smokers
- Have regular check-ups
If you’re a smoker, a regular visit to your dentist is a must. During these visits, dentists can watch out for early signs of developing teeth, gums, or mouth diseases.
Additionally, your dentist can help you quit smoking. They can give you tips on how to stop smoking and with proper care.
- Get professional cleanings.
Some problems cannot be solved by tooth brushing alone and will need professional help. Professional cleanings can remove heavy stains and tartar build-ups.
- Have proper oral hygiene.
Proper oral hygiene is extremely important for smokers. Brushing regularly is not enough. They must floss and use mouthwash as well. Do this twice a day for a better effect.
- Perform oral health self-checkups
Smokers should also perform self-checkups. You should check for sores around the face, neck, and mouth. If the sore lasted for two weeks or more, it’s a sign of a serious problem.
You should also check for lesions, lumps, swellings, and recurrent bleeding in the mouth. Also watch out for red, white, or dark patches inside your mouth, on the cheeks, under the tongue, on your palate, or tonsillar area. Visit your dentist if these patches lasted for more than two weeks.
Numbness or pain in any part of the mouth can also be a sign of underlying problems.
How to Reduce the Harm of Smoking
The best thing you can do is to quit smoking cigarettes or any tobacco products. Improvements also happen when you give your body a chance to regenerate. Your capacity to taste may increase three days after your last cigarette. Your damaged cells and cardiovascular system will also slowly recover.
But quitting cigarettes is easier said than done, especially if you had this habit for a long time. Cigarettes also have nicotine. It is a highly addictive substance that makes cigarettes hard to give up.
So here are some steps you can take while on your journey to becoming smoke-free.
- Mouthwash after each cigarette.
This is not a cure for problems caused by cigarettes. But using mouthwash goes a long way in killing bacteria. It also mitigates the bad breath caused by smoking.
- Eat nutritious foods.
Eating nutritious foods benefits our overall health. Good nutrition also fights off mouth infections caused by smoking.
Cigarette smoking has many bad effects, especially on our oral health. A substance in cigarettes called Nicotine also makes it hard to stop this habit.
Some of the most common problems caused by smoking are oral cancer, gum diseases, tartar build-up, and heavy teeth stains. Other bad effects also include tooth loss and loss of sense of taste and smell.
When choosing a toothbrush, choose the one with stiffer bristles and a comfortable handle. This will effectively clean even the hard-to-reach surfaces of your teeth.
Quitting cigarettes may be hard. But you can do some ways to reduce its harm to your oral health. These steps include using toothpaste and mouthwash for smokers and getting professional cleanings.
But these are only temporary solutions. The best solution is still eliminating your tobacco consumption.