Quitting smoking will improve your smile.
Smoking is a hard habit to quit. If you’ve ever tried, you’re already well aware of how difficult it can be. But difficult isn’t impossible. Sometimes all you need is the right motivation.
Have you ever thought about how smoking damages your teeth? Smoking and pearly white smiles do NOT go hand in hand. So if you want to keep (or restore) a dazzling smile, the habit is going to have to go. Skeptical? Keep reading to learn about smoking and your teeth and what happens to your oral health as a result of smoking.
Smoking and Gum Disease
Gum disease, or gingivitis, is an inflammation of the gums that is a precursor to periodontal disease. Common symptoms include painful, swollen, and bleeding gums. As the disease progresses, your teeth become loose and you may experience tooth pain while chewing or toothaches. This happens when bacteria on your teeth get trapped in your gums for too long and your gums become infected.
Smokers are twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop gum disease, may find it harder for their gum disease to heal, and discover that dental treatments do not work as effectively on them.
Gum disease is a mild form of periodontitis, but when left untreated it becomes progressively worse. As it worsens, your gums become more inflamed and begin to pull away from your teeth. Your teeth can loosen and you may lose bone. Eventually, your rotten teeth can fall out.
Periodontal disease is common—nearly half of adults over age 30 in the US have some sort of periodontal disease. However, it is highly treatable and a big tip on the shortlist of prevention and treatment is to never smoke or quit if you already do.
Smoking and Oral Cancer
You probably have already heard that smoking accounts for about 90% of all lung cancers. But did you know that smoking is also linked to about 12 different types of cancer? This includes oral cancer, which smokers are 10 times more likely to develop than nonsmokers. Regular checkups with your dentist can detect early signs of oral cancer through an oral cancer screening, but you can safeguard your health by avoiding high-risk activities, like smoking.
Did you know that your teeth are porous just like your skin? This means that your teeth can absorb substances. In the case of smoking, your teeth absorb the nicotine and tar found in tobacco causing unsightly yellowing and discoloration.
Interestingly, nicotine is actually colorless but turns yellow when combined with oxygen. This means that you are not safe from tooth discoloration even if you choose e-cigarettes. If your e-juice contains nicotine, it will have the same effect on your teeth.
Smoking and Tooth Decay
What about smoking and tooth decay? Dental caries, or tooth decay, are extremely common. Nearly everyone will develop one or more cavities at some point in their life. The spread of tooth decay is easy to prevent with proper treatment at a dentist’s office. However, research shows a positive correlation between smoking and tooth decay. That is, smokers are at a higher risk of developing a tooth cavity and may find that their rotten tooth decays more rapidly.
As periodontal disease advances, your gums peel away from your teeth and more bacteria is trapped in the pockets that are created. Toxic byproducts of the bacteria, as well as the enzymes your body is using to fight the infection, begin to erode your tooth and bone. Eventually, your teeth can loosen enough that they fall out. The problem is so pervasive that periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
Smoking and Bone Loss
Your jawbone and facial structure require your teeth to support them or the bone can begin to be reabsorbed, causing a sunken-in appearance. If your periodontal disease advances to this stage, bone loss is the next outcome.
However, there is another danger with smoking and your bones. Smoking inhibits your body’s ability to absorb and use calcium, meaning your bones weaken over time. Thus, smokers are at a higher risk of osteoporosis.
Now You’ve Quit Smoking…How to Restore
Is quitting something you’ve wanted to do for a long time? We’re cheering you on! Here is an excellent resource that might give you the extra support you need to get started.
If this is something this piece in any way helped you decide, hooray! Let us applaud you for that excellent decision and celebrate your journey to freedom. But, are you left with cigarette-stained teeth forever? Thankfully, most tobacco stains can be removed from your teeth with professional tooth whitening.
If you’ve already suffered bone or tooth loss, don’t despair either. Dentists have an arsenal of tooth replacement options at their disposal that can help restore your smile. It is even possible to fortify bone loss with a bone graft or stimulate the growth of new bone with dental implants.
As always, be sure to keep up your oral hygiene. Once you get your smile back, professional teeth cleaning and regular brushing and flossing will keep your smile bright! Looking for a dentist office near you in Griffin or Hampton, Georgia? Schedule an appointment to come meet our dentist today!