Smokers teeth: How smoking affects your oral health.
“We all know smoking is bad but what effect does it have on our mouths?”.
Does smoking affect the health of my mouth?
- Stained and discoloured teeth.
- Bad breath.
- Tooth decay.
- Gum disease.
- Bone loss.
- Hairy tongue.
- Oral leukoplakia.
- Mouth cancer.
Why are my teeth yellow?One of the most obvious side effects of smoking is staining on the teeth. The nicotine and tar in cigarettes can turn teeth yellow in a very short space of time. Heavy smokers will find their teeth becoming brown if they continue the habit for years.
Why do Smokers have bad breath?People who smoke are far more likely to suffer from bad breath or halitosis. In the case of a smoker, bad breath is often described as “smokers breath”. There are a number of reasons that smoking affects the freshness of breath. Firstly, after smoking a cigarette, smoke particles can remain in the mouth and lungs for hours afterwards. This causes a stale cigarette odor that is often noticeable on the breath. It is not just stale smoke that is the problem, as a cigarette is burnt and inhaled it gives off smelly chemical compounds that can also remain in the saliva for some time afterwards.
Does smoking really cause tooth decay?As cigarette smoke is repeatedly inhaled it naturally drys the mouth and prevents saliva from bathing the teeth and gums. Saliva is nature’s way of keeping the teeth clean but a dry mouth allows bacteria to thrive and form plaque and tartar quicker than normal. People who smoke are likely to produce more bacterial plaque than people who don’t. A build up of plaque and tartar will eventually lead to tooth decay.
How does smoking affect the gums?Smoking can cause an increase in the amount of plaque produced every day. Unless this plaque is removed effectively it can irritate and infect the gums.Because smoking decreases the supply of oxygen to the bloodstream any prevalent gum infection might not heal in the way it would in a nonsmoker. Gum disease in a smoker will worsen and spread quicker than in a non-smoker. Gum disease is still the most common cause of tooth loss.
Why does smoking affect the jaw bone?Smokers are likely to create a higher amount of plaque than non-smokers and are therefore more likely to suffer from tooth decay and gum disease. Smoking reduces the supply of oxygen to the bloodstream and reduces the bodies natural defences and healing power. Gum disease in a person that smokes is likely to spread faster and more aggressively than would normally be the case. If the infection reaches the jaw bone the bacterial toxins will start to eat away at the bone tissue resulting in serious bone deterioration.
What is Hairy Tongue?Although it sounds horrifying, hairy tongue is actually quite harmless. Hairy tongue is caused when the surface papillae don’t shed as normal but instead grow longer and start to take on a hair-like appearance. Bacteria and food particles begin to collect in this covering worsening the effect. Hairy tongue can be caused by smoking, poor oral hygiene, medications, dry mouth, drinking too much coffee or tea or a combination of the above. Usually, the condition is temporary and can often be rectified with improving oral hygiene.
What is Oral leukoplakia?Oral leukoplakia is identified as a white patch of plaque that can appear in the following places :
- Sides or underneath tongue
- Lower lip
- Floor of mouth
- soft palate