While smoking cigarettes might look cool, the consequences of using tobacco are anything but. Bad breath, yellow teeth, and even tooth loss are in your future if you don’t put the cigarette down, according to your dentist and other oral health experts. Smokers are more than twice as likely to develop significant oral health problems such as gum disease. Read more to learn five ways that smoking cigarettes negatively impacts your dental health.
1. Creates More Plaque and Tartar
The chemicals present in tobacco hinder the flow of saliva in your mouth, making it easier for harmful oral bacteria to stick to your teeth and gums. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, then develops on your teeth. The increases number of bacteria in your mouth then increases your risk of developing problems like tooth decay and gum disease. When plaque is not removed through brushing and flossing, it hardens into a substance called tartar, which can only be removed by a dental professional and drastically increases your risk of gum disease and ultimately, tooth loss.
2. Interferes with Blood Circulation
Tobacco use restricts blood flow in the mouth, slowing down the oral healing processes and increases your risk of infections. It also may cause your dental implants to fail and cause complications with tooth extractions and gum disease treatment.
3. Leads to Oral Cancer
About 90% of people who are diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, lips, or throat are tobacco users. People who smoke are up to six times more likely than nonsmokers to contract oral cancer.
4. Causes Bad Breath
Smoking causes bad breath, also known as halitosis. This is not only due to the powerful, acrid tang of the cigarette smoke itself but also because smoke dries your mouth out. When you don’t have an adequate supply of saliva, bits of food and bacteria don’t get washed out. Bacteria then feast on these food particles and leave behind a foul-smelling waste product in your mouth.
5. Discolors Your Teeth
Smoking leaves behind nasty stains on your teeth. In addition, repeated use of cigarettes can wear down your enamel, or the outer layer of your teeth, revealing the yellowish layer of dentin underneath.
If you smoke, take this as a sign to quit. Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist or primary care physician for advice and resources.
About the Author
Dr. Mark Hochman has been practicing dentistry since 1977, and currently practices at La Plata Dental in La Plata, MD. His professional memberships include the American Dental Association, the Maryland State Dental Association, the Patuxent Dental Society, St. Mary’s Study Club, and the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. For more help quitting smoking, you can contact Dr. Hochman at (240) 349-2439.