Smoking and using tobacco poses many health risks and proven negative effects on your health, and that includes the teeth. While a smoker’s risk of developing breathing problems, COPD, lung cancer, and heart disease is increased, so are their risks for developing oral health problems. Dr. Jason Petkevis is a dentist in Chester Springs, PA who can help you mitigate these risks and have a healthier smile.
How Does Tobacco Affect My Teeth?
Smoking cigarettes slows down the body’s ability to heal, and your teeth may wear down faster as a result. Many tobacco products such as chewing tobacco, cigars, snuff and tobacco leaves contain tiny particles that wear away at tooth enamel. Once enamel is worn down it cannot be replaced.
Tobacco use and smoking also limits the effectiveness of dental treatments. Smoking reduces blood flow and increases inflammation and bacteria count in the mouth, making healing after restorative procedures slower. In some cases, people who smoke may not be able to utilize restorative dental procedures.
Dental implants or dental bridges may not be an option for smokers because the surrounding teeth and jawbone may have already weakened or deteriorated. These treatments require healthy teeth surrounding the affected area, so people who smoke may not be able to benefit from these treatments. Dental implants in particular are much more likely to fail in people who smoke versus nonsmokers.
Smoking Increases Your Risk of Gum Disease
People who smoke are twice as likely to develop gum disease compared to nonsmokers. Smoking dries out the mouth, increasing the number of oral bacteria, and it also inhibits the immune system’s ability to fight infection. Using tobacco products can cause a simple infection to turn into an abscess or sepsis.
Smoking restricts blood vessels, which reduces blood flow to the gum tissue, making it more difficult to heal after oral surgery or deal with symptoms of gum disease. Good oral hygiene habits cannot ward off the effects of smoking on your oral health.
What About Chewing Tobacco?
Chewing tobacco, also called snuff or smokeless tobacco, causes cancers of the mouth, lip, tongue, and pancreas. Chewing tobacco contains at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals, just like cigarettes.
Problems caused by chewing tobacco include:
- Increased risk of cancer of the esophagus, colon, and bladder due to swallowing toxins
- Irritation of the gums, leading to gum disease
- Increased risk of tooth decay due to sugar added to enhance the flavor of tobacco
- Tooth sensitivity and erosion due to the abrasive nature of tobacco
How to Improve Oral Health If You Smoke
Tobacco dependence is an addiction, and there are resources available to you. It’s not uncommon or unusual for people with a nicotine addiction to need psychological or physiological support. If you’re a smoker, work with your doctor and dentist to find a strategy to help you quit for good.
The effects of smoking on your oral health can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and make restorative or cosmetic dentistry impossible. For more information or help restoring teeth after tobacco use, schedule with Dr. Petkevis at Dental Distinction by calling 610.400.1459 or request an appointment online.