By now, you’re probably quite aware that smoking is bad for your health. It has been directly linked to higher rates of lung cancer, throat cancer, and COPD. However, the ways in which smoking can affect your oral health are often overlooked. Unsurprisingly, smoking also has bad effects for your mouth, which is one reason why it’s so important to see a dentist regularly.
Effects of Smoking on the Mouth
If you are a smoker, you’ve probably noticed some changes in your mouth over the years. Probably the most obvious difference is bad breath or yellowed teeth. While these are cosmetic problems, they can definitely be signs of more serious issues. Smoking can cause the following symptoms:
- Gum disease
- Longer healing time after oral surgery
- Increase oral cancer risk
- Inflammation of the salivary glands
- Increased bone loss in the jaw
- White patches in the mouth
- More plaque and tartar buildup
How Smoking Causes Gum Disease
As one of the most prevalent symptoms, gum disease can lead to a number of other difficulties, such as swollen and tender gums or tooth loss. In fact, those who smoke have twice the risk of developing it as a non-smoker.
But how does smoking cause gum disease? When you smoke, it can weaken your immune system, making it harder to fight off infection. Also problematic is the fact that smokers have a lack of oxygen in their bloodstream, also contributing to delayed healing. Both of these issues will prevent gums from healing and exacerbate any gum disease symptoms you have. Your body simply won’t be able to protect itself, making it far more likely to suffer severe dental consequences as a result. In fact, studies show that among smokers, women are likely to lose 1.5 teeth every ten years, while men lose an average of 2.9 every ten years.
Because their immune systems can’t fight back, smokers have increased bacterial plaque production in the mouth. Not only does plaque contribute to gum disease, but it also plays a huge role in the development of cavities and other tooth issues.
At the end of the day, studies estimate that over 40 percent of gum disease cases in the United States can be linked to smoking.
What Can Smokers Do to Prevent Oral Problems?
As a smoker, you’ll need to take better care of your teeth than the average person. For example, regular dental appointments at a span of six months apart are crucial, as your dentist will be able to check for signs of developing conditions. Because of your higher risk of mouth cancer, your dentist can also inspect for signs of this disease to ensure it’s caught early on.
Additionally, you’ll need to maintain a stringent daily oral care routine. If you don’t already use mouthwash, you may want to start, as it can kill extra bacteria in your mouth. You’ll also need to floss once a day and brush your teeth at least twice a day.
If you’ve smoked for years and damage has already been done, Dr. Mann can help. He can offer teeth whitening to restore discolored teeth, dental implants to replace missing teeth, or even teeth reshaping to help restore your bite. Just call us today to schedule your appointment and find out more.