Smoking and your oral health

Smoking attacks all vital tissues and causes illness to almost every organ. Therefore, smokers have a greater risk of developing many life-threatening health conditions. Smokers inhale more than 7000 chemical compounds in a cigarette and at least 70 of these compounds cause cancer.

How does smoking affect the oral cavity?

Smoking affects the oral cavity in many ways. Smokers can expect to develop a combination of the following, depending on the frequency and length of time they have smoked:

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Discolored teeth
  • Periodontitis
  • Oral cancer
  • Caries
  • Pain in the mouth
  • Dry mouth
  • Modified taste and odor

Smoking and Gingivitis

• Smoking has established itself as an important risk factor for gingivitis.

• Tobacco reduces blood flow to the gums, deprives them from oxygen and nutrients which allow gums to remain healthy, leaving them vulnerable to bacterial infection.

• Nicotine stops the process of good blood circulation in the gums, which delays healing in the oral cavity.

• As a result, smokers have up to 6 times more chance of gingivitis than non-smokers.

• Tobacco increases the temperature in the mouth that helps to develop anaerobic bacteria that cause Periodontitis

• Nicotine inhibits the production of collagen, which is an important element to the gums.

• Tobacco changes the quality of the saliva thus reducing its antioxidant and protective properties.

Smoking and oral cancer

Of all the harmful effects caused by smoking to the gums and the periodontium, oral cancer is the most serious. Only half of the people diagnosed with oral cancer will be alive five years later. Any discolored ulcers or sores in the mouth, lip or tongue that does not heal within three weeks should be checked by a Dentist. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer is, the more likely it is for the individual to survive.

Think about stopping

When you are ready to stop smoking, your Doctor is ready to support you and help you during this process. There are many ways available to help you make this important transition. No matter how long you smoke, quit smoking now! It will directly improve your general health, as well as your oral health.

When you stop smoking, daily brushing, the use of dental floss and regular dental examinations will help you regain a healthy mouth. Your gums will be healthy, you can smell and taste the food better, your breathing will improve, and staining and tooth loss can be reduced. After 10 years of non-smoking, you will have less than half the chance of having oral cancer.