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Smoking And Your Dental Health

2016 08 18
It’s well known that smoking is bad for your health. In the UK alone, it causes around 96,000 deaths a year from lung cancer, heart disease, and many more conditions.

(Source: Ash).

But it’s not quite as well known that smoking is very bad for your oral and dental health.

How does smoking affect my oral and dental health?

Exposure to tobacco is linked to an estimated 65% of oral cancer cases in the UK each year (Cancer Research UK ). The risk of mouth cancer is multiplied among those who smoke and drink alcohol to excess (Source: Oral Health Foundation). Smoking tobacco can also lead to greater chances of gum disease, give you bad breath, cause discolouration of the teeth, increase plaque build-up, and delay healing after dental work. (Source:WebMD)

How does smoking affect gum disease?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is primarily caused by the build-up of plaque. Smokers are more likely to produce this bacterial plaque, which leads to gum disease. Smoking affects the gums by causing a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, making it difficult for infected gums to heal. When smokers get gum disease it progresses at a faster rate than it does in non-smokers. Gum disease is also a major cause of tooth loss, and smoking is said to be one link in the chain that increases this risk (Source: Oral Health Foundation).

How does smoking increase my chances of oral cancer?

Cigarettes contain a vast number of chemicals, some of which are harmful to the mouth. Smoking transmits these into the mouth via saliva. About one in five people in the UK smoke, and this is responsible for roughly two out of three instances of mouth cancer (Source: Oral Health Foundation).

Why does smoking turn my teeth yellow?

‘Smokers Teeth’, the yellow colouration which affects smokers comes from tar and nicotine, contained in the chemical makeup of the cigarettes. These stains can be removed by whitening procedures, but will return if the patient continues to smoke.

What is the link between bad breath and smoking?

Halitosis, or bad breath, is caused by a variety of factors resulting from smoke. Firstly, carcinogenic chemicals from the smoke build up in the mouth. In addition to this, inhaling warm cigarette smoke causes a dry, chemical-filled environment where bacteria can grow (Source: NHS Direct).

Can I mitigate the effects of cigarette smoke?

Brushing regularly, flossing, teeth whitening, and mouthwash can all help to reduce the effects of cigarette smoke to some extent, but they cannot remove them. The best solution for protecting your dental and oral health is to quit smoking. The good news is that the benefits of quitting smoking are immediate, and there are multiple health benefits.

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