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Smoking and Your Oral Health

September 10, 2021

Smoking is harmful — it is proven that smoking can significantly harm your overall health and especially damage delicate tissues in your mouth and throat. Despite this fact, what most people don’t take into account is how smoking negatively affects their oral health — and it’s not just stained teeth and bad breath we’re talking about.

Today, we will go over how smoking can affect your oral health. Learning all the ways smoking can affect your oral health is essential on the hopeful path to quitting and healing. 

Gum Disease

Smoking has been found to be a major risk factor for gum disease. Tobacco use reduces blood flow to your gums and deprives them of oxygen which in turn makes the gums more vulnerable to bacteria and infections. The symptoms of gum disease need to be watched for and if you find you are experiencing some of them, you should see your dentist immediately. The symptoms are as follows:

  • Red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums.
  • Discharge/pus coming from your gums.
  • Loose gums that pull away from your teeth.
  • Bad breath or a consistent bad taste in your mouth. 
  • Loose teeth. This can change the feel of your bite when your teeth are placed together or it can change the way your dentures fit.

Tooth Loss

Tooth loss can occur if your gum disease is not treated, leading your teeth to become loose and fall out. This makes it difficult to chew certain types of foods, your ability to speak clearly and it can leave you vulnerable to more advanced infections of the mouth and gums. 

Stained Teeth

Smoking or using chewing tobacco can make the enamel of your teeth more likely to stain. Once you start using nicotine products, it doesn’t take long for your teeth to take on a yellowish appearance.

Halitosis

Tobacco products can really do a number on your breath. Not only do many tobacco products leave their own odor on your breath; they can also dry out your mouth. Smokers are also more likely to develop gum disease, which can also add to halitosis.

Loss of Smell & Taste

Smoking damages the nerve endings in your nose and mouth, dulling your senses of taste and smell. But within only 2 days of quitting smoking, the nerve endings begin to grow back, and your sense of taste and smell begin to improve.

Weakened Immune System

A person who smokes heavily can start to experience immune system issues, leading to weakened defenses against oral diseases and longer recovery from dental surgical procedures.

Gum Recession

When someone breathes in tobacco from smoking, the harmful agents attack the gums over time making them prone to diseases which can lead to gum recession.

Oral Cancer

Being exposed to harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco causes mutations in the healthy cells of your mouth and throat, increasing your risk for developing oral cancer, which is one of the hardest cancers to treat. Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth, including the tongue, cheek, roof or floor of the mouth, and lips. Smoking is one of the primary risk factors for oral cancer. People who smoke and drink alcohol have an even greater risk of developing oral cancer than those who just do one or the other.

Oral cancer in smokers is most likely to show up on the side of the tongue or the floor of the mouth and lips.  Early diagnosis is incredibly important so treatment can start as soon as possible before the cancer spreads to other parts of the body. Treatment for oral cancer includes surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Quit Smoking to Ensure Good Oral Health

Smoking is very addictive and it takes work and a hearty constitution to quit. Having help along the way will only fortify your resolve. Quitting smoking is a huge step in the right direction for better oral and overall physical health. 

There are many different nicotine replacement therapy products to help you quit smoking, such as:

  • Nicotine patches
  • Inhalers
  • Nicotine chewing gum
  • Lozenges
  • Patches
  • Behavior therapy

We Care About Your Oral Health

At Carrie Muzny DDS, we offer many services with the best care so you leave our offices smiling every time. Our professional and kind team is here to ensure you have a great dental experience whether it’s your first time or you’ve been coming to us for years. 

Our highly acclaimed dentists are not only exceptionally trained in modern preventative techniques, but also have attained academic honors and continue to refine their craft year after year in preventative dentistry, restorative dentistry, surgical procedures, and cosmetic dentistry. 

Check out our smile gallery to see results from our many patients and contact us to get the best quality care for all your oral health needs.

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