Cigarettes and Your Teeth

By now we all know that smoking is bad for your health and cigarettes harm teeth. It is a cancer-causing agent and can cause lots of health problems.  But did you know that it can also contribute to gum disease or mouth cancer? Smoking is a causative factor in periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. 

So, What Can Happen When You Smoke?

Cosmetic Issues: Initially smoking can cause bad breath and tooth discoloration. This can cause you to be more self-conscious about your smile and take away from every day life enjoyment.

Dry Mouth: But beyond the cosmetic problems, smoking can also lead to dry mouth. When you have dry mouth this can lead to increased risk for cavities. Saliva is a protective barrier for your teeth, without it, you are more likely to have bad breath and are prone to cavities.

Gum Recession: Gum recession is also a typical side effect that smokers experience, meaning that your gums have pulled away from your teeth; this exposes the roots. While gum recession can make your teeth look longer, this condition isn’t just cosmetic. Exposed tooth roots are sensitive, so you may feel sharp pain when you eat or drink.

Gum Disease: Gum disease can ultimately result in you losing teeth. Smoking and other tobacco products can lead to gum disease by affecting the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth. More specifically, it appears that smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells. This interference makes smokers more susceptible to infections, such as periodontal disease, and also seems to impair blood flow to the gums – which may affect wound healing.

Did you know…

  • You are twice as likely to develop gum disease compared to a non-smoker.
  • The more and longer you smoke, the higher your risk for gum disease.
  • Smoking can inhibit the effectiveness of your gum disease treatment.

Weakened Immune System: Smoking leads to a weakened immune system, this means that when you get an infection, whether that be in your mouth or your body, your body is unable to fight the infection properly. If you have plaque and bad bacteria in your mouth and a weakened immune system, you are more likely to develop gum disease. 

Some people are curious as to whether or not their dentist will know if they smoke. The short answer is: YES! Among the telltale signs include yellow teeth, plaque, receding gums, and more. Dentists are the first ones that will tell you that cigarettes harm teeth.

All Tobacco Causes Increased Risks

We know cigarettes harm teeth, but we are not just talking about cigarettes here, this applies to cigars, chewing tobacco, snuff, and e-cigarettes. All of these products contain toxins, carcinogens and nicotine. These three substances are all linked to an increase risk of cancer. Tobacco use is a major risk for not only oral cancer but many other cancers. 

People who smoke are at a higher risk of:

  • developing mouth cancer (oral)
  • gum problems
  • losing teeth
  • decay on the roots of teeth
  • complications after tooth removal
  • complications after gum and oral surgery
  • experience tongue pain
  • notice bacteria or yeast growth on the surface of their tongue, giving it a hairy appearance
  • smoking can lead to the growth of lumps on the tongue
  • Like we mentioned, cigarettes harm teeth

Let’s Talk About Vaping

Vaping e-cigarettes has become a nationwide epidemic, it also affects your Oral Health. It accelerates tooth decay and weakens your enamel.

One of the most common side effects of vaping is a dry mouth. Some humectants in e-cigarettes, like propylene glycol, for example, can cause mouth dryness. Mouth dryness can produce bad breath, mouth sores and even cause tooth decay. Nicotine reduces blood flow to your teeth and gums, depriving them of oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy. As a result, the gum tissue can die and recede, increasing the risk of developing cavities.

Remember, some e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is a dangerous and addictive chemical. Make sure to visit your dentist to stay on top of your health.

Does Cigar Smoking Cause Dental Problems?

Yes, like cigarettes, cigars and pipes can lead to oral health problems. Cigar smokers can experience tooth loss and alveolar bone loss (bone loss within the jawbone that anchors teeth) at rates equivalent to those of cigarette smokers. Pipe smokers also have a similar risk of tooth loss as cigarette smokers. Beyond these risks, pipe and cigar smokers are still at risk for oral and pharyngeal (throat) cancers, even if they don’t inhale, and other oral consequences that include: bad breath, stained teeth, and increased risk of periodontal (gum) disease.

Are Smokeless Tobacco Products Safer?

No. Like cigars and cigarettes, smokeless tobacco products (for example, snuff and chewing tobacco) contain at least 28 chemicals that have been shown to increase the risk of oral cancer and cancer of the throat and esophagus. In fact, chewing tobacco contains higher levels of nicotine than cigarettes, making it harder to quit than cigarettes. And one can of snuff delivers more nicotine than over 60 cigarettes.

Smokeless tobacco can irritate your gum tissue, causing it to recede or pull away from your teeth. Once the gum tissue recedes, your teeth roots become exposed, creating an increased risk of tooth decay. Exposed roots are also more sensitive to hot and cold or other irritants, making eating and drinking uncomfortable.

In addition, sugars, which are often added to enhance the flavor of smokeless tobacco, can increase your risk for tooth decay. Chewing tobacco users are four times more likely than nonusers to develop tooth decay. Smokeless tobacco also typically contains sand and grit, which can wear down your teeth.

If you smoke tobacco or vape, it is important to look after your oral health to prevent dental problems and gum disease; remember cigarettes harm teeth.

Oral Cancer: What is an Oral Cancer Screening?

A head, neck and oral cancer screening is an essential part of your dental examination and may save your life. Oral Cancer accounts for approximately 4% of all cancers and men are twice as likely to be diagnosed as women. Oral cancer screenings (OCS) should be done at every dental examination.

  • Your dentist will feel your neck, underneath your jaw, and the base of your skull.
  • In your mouth, your dentist will examine your tongue, lips, gingiva, palate, throat, and cheeks.

These an oral cancer screening allows for your dentist to catch any areas of concern as quickly as possible. The good news is that an OCS will not cost you any money, it is part of your routine exam which is usually covered by insurance.

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Oral Health Tips for Smokers

  • Brushing immediately after smoking can improve your breath. It also reduces the time that nicotine and tar from smoking sit on your teeth and gums. This can also reduce staining.
  • Frequent consumption of water can counter the dehydrating effects of smoking.
  • Rinsing your mouth with a mouthwash that contains hydrogen peroxide can help whiten teeth and fight off bacteria. This chemical can also maintain gum health which will help prevent gum disease. Make sure to be swishing for a full minute and then rinsing with water after using.
  • Schedule routine dental exams. Patients who neglect proper care of their mouths by not regularly seeing a dentist, risk not only getting tooth and gum disease, but they also risk getting diseases and illnesses in other parts of their body. Some major health conditions related to oral health include heart disease, diabetes, stroke and breast cancer.
  • Quit Smoking

Cigarettes Harm Teeth. So, Please Quit Smoking

Even if you have been smoking or using tobacco for years, quitting now can vastly improve your chances for preventing cancer and periodontal disease, as we’ve discussed cigarettes harm teeth. 

Helpful tips for how to quit:

  • Think about why you want to quit and pick a time where you are not overly stressed from work or life to quit smoking.
  • Tell your friends and family and ask them for their support.
  • Talk with your doctor about medicines that can help you quit.
  • Smoking cessation classes and support groups can be helpful. They are typically offered through local hospitals in the community and sometimes through employers and health insurance companies.
  • Exercise! Exercising can decrease stress and improve your health as well as release endorphins that make you feel good.
  • Herbal remedies, as well as hypnosis and acupuncture, are other treatments that may help you kick the habit.
  • Check out these 13 Quit-Smoking Tips from WebMD.

Your Oral Health is Our Top Priority at Luff Dental

The team at Luff Dental offers you and your family more than comprehensive dental services; they offer you personalized care by a professional team in Lee’s Summit, MO.

Know that we’ve established that cigarettes harm teeth, cause gum disease and destroy your oral health. We believe that your overall health is directly connected to your oral health, and we strive to offer a wide range of dental services to address any dental concerns you or your family may have. A strong dental hygiene routine is important for everyone!

Work with Dr. Luff and her team to find the most effective solution for your smile! We are always accepting new patients in the Lee’s Summit, MO and surrounding area who are ready to improve their confidence and smile! Please call Luff Dental at (816) 875-3391 to schedule your appointment or click HERE and we’ll connect with you!