Smoking has been decreasing in popularity for years, but millions of Australians still smoke on a daily basis, with hundreds of thousands being casual smokers. How does tobacco usage affect your teeth?
We won’t be discussing the general health problems associated with smoking and tobacco usage because you’ve already seen the health warnings and heard the reports. The dangers of tobacco usage is well established, but its effects on your teeth are still underreported!
Let’s dive in!
We all want a big bright and beautiful smile, so discoloured teeth is often one of the first symptoms smokers will notice. Tar and other harmful chemicals are forced directly onto your teeth when inhaling cigarette smoke, which will slowly discolour them.
Halitosis, or bad breath, can be caused by smoking, chewing tobacco and using other tobacco because it essentially starves your mouth of clean oxygen and coats the inside of your mouth with chemicals and a scent that most non-users won’t find very pleasant.
Smoking can lead to an increased amount of gum disease because smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells.
Smoking is also vasoconstrictive, which means that your body becomes less effective at delivering blood to your gums, leading to a lowered ability to heal wounds and infections.
A common symptom of gum disease is gums bleeding when brushing or flossing. Because smokers have such a poor blood supply, their gums often won’t bleed if they have gingivitis, which can help mask the disease and let it linger for longer.
If left untreated, gingivitis will lead to periodontitis and may lead to loss of tissue or bone in your jaw, and could lead to losing teeth entirely.
Nicotine irritates your gum tissue, causing it to pull back from your teeth, and exposing more vulnerable areas of the tooth. Smokeless tobacco like chewing tobacco is especially bad because it sits directly on your gums, delivering discolouration and nicotine very efficiently.
Dry mouth and tooth decay
Smokers have more tooth decay than non-users, according to Dental Health Services Victoria. Nicotine reduces your saliva flow and the resulting dry mouth will make you more likely to suffer from decay because saliva is your body’s natural tooth cleaner.
What can you do?
Well, the good news is that all hope is not lost.
Quitting smoking is obviously the best way to make the first step towards improving your dental health. Regardless, you will need to see an experienced and professional dentist to get their assessment and input.
You can secure an appointment with Cairns’ leading dentists by booking online or giving us a call on 07 4054 2203.