Do you smoke? If so, you already know that it’s not good for you. Smoking can lead to lung disease, cancer, heart attacks, and a host of other issues. What you might not know is that smoking also wreaks havoc on your oral health. Check out this list of ways smoking impacts your dental health, in case you need more of an incentive to quit.
Smoking Can Cause Staining and Halitosis
On a purely aesthetic level, smoking can cause staining of your teeth. No longer will they be pearly white after you’ve smoked awhile. The tar and the other chemicals will stain your teeth yellowish, brownish, or grayish. You can brush with a whitening toothpaste, but that will go only so far.
Many people who smoke know that smoking also gives them bad breath, also called halitosis. If you smoke and your partner does not, this can be a sticking point in your relationship. Chewing gum and brushing and flossing regularly help somewhat, but you can’t completely hide the smell.
Smoking Can Cause Gum Disease
Inflamed, red, bleeding gums can occur when someone smokes. One reason is that smoking dries out oral tissues, and dried out gums are more susceptible to tiny cuts and cracks that can lead to bacterial infections. As the bacteria and plaque sit in the pockets between your gums and your teeth, they are ready to infiltrate any little cuts, causing the bleeding, sore gums that are the hallmark of gingivitis and periodontitis (both forms of gum disease).
Smoking Can Cause Tooth Loss
As gum disease progresses, the teeth can become loose, eventually falling out. Also, tooth decay tends to be more prevalent in smokers, so broken or decayed teeth may need to be extracted. Smokers are also more prone to dry sockets and other complications following extractions and other types of oral surgery.
Smoking Can Cause Oral Cancer
Finally, in severe cases, both smoking and chewing tobacco can cause oral cancer. If you notice a lesion, sore, or patch in your mouth that doesn’t clear up within two weeks, make an appointment with your dentist right away to be evaluated for oral cancer. This is particularly important if you smoke.
Talk to your doctor about ways that you can quit smoking. You will be adding years onto your life and you might be able to avoid some of the dangers to your oral health and your overall health.