Losing your teeth may be one of many adverse health effects of smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products, oral health experts report. Smokers develop more tartar on their teeth than nonsmokers, which can lead to periodontal (gum) disease.
Review four ways smoking affects your oral health:
1. Creates plaque and tartar – Chemicals in tobacco products affect saliva flow in the mouth, making it easier for oral bacteria to stick to teeth and gums. Filmy, bacteria-laden plaque can develop on teeth and along the gum line. If not removed daily, it can harden into tartar, also known as calculus, a substance so hard it requires a professional cleaning to remove.Smokers are three to six times more likely to develop gum disease or periodontal disease, which can attack roots and cause teeth to fall out.
Even smokeless tobacco products can irritate gum tissue, causing gums to loosen around teeth, making it easier for bacteria to settle in and develop decay.
2. Interferes with blood circulation – Smoking affects the normal function of gum tissue, causing infections and restricting blood flow. It also delays healing after oral surgery for dental implants, tooth extraction or treatment of gum disease. This makes the recovery process difficult. When brushing or flossing, smokers may notice that their gums bleed easily.
3. Leads to oral cancer – According to WebMD, about 90 percent of people diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, throat or lips used tobacco. Smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop oral cancers.
4. Changes teeth and breath – Smoking can stain teeth to a yellow colour and also cause bad breath.
If you smoke or use tobacco products, reduce the risk of oral health problems by brushing twice daily, after breakfast and before bedtime, and floss once each day. Schedule regular appointments, as directed by your dentist, for professional teeth cleanings and checkups. If possible, quit smoking or at least cut down. Research shows that smokers who cut back to less than half a pack a day only had three times the risk for developing gum disease as nonsmokers.