Effects of tobacco smoking on Oral Health & Teeth

We all know that tobacco causes cancer, thanks to the numerous awareness campaigns by the government. But a lesser-known fact is the effect that it has on one’s teeth. A burning cigarette releases nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, arsenic, ammonia, acetone, toluene, methylamine, pesticides, polonium – 210 and methanol. Most of these are used industrially as fuel and to kill pests. Your teeth are one of the most easily affected parts of your body. The cocktail of chemicals present in cigarettes can, therefore, cause severe damage to your teeth and gums.

Smoking or chewing tobacco does terrible things to your oral health. Some of the common side effects of tobacco consumption are bad breath, teeth staining, inflamed glands inside the mouth, extra buildup of plaque and tartar, erosion of the jaw bone, increased risk of developing leukoplakia which are a group of white patches in the mouth, weakened gums, which eventually leads to loss of teeth, slow rate of healing after undergoing oral procedures like extraction, root canal treatment and teeth implantation.

Tobacco can break down the tissues that help attach bone to the teeth. Smoking restricts blood flow to the gums, thus interfering with the normal functioning of the tissue cells present in the gums, thus slowing down wound healing. Chewing tobacco causes gum recession which is the pulling away of gums from teeth, thus exposing the root of your teeth to a horde of foreign substances. Food particles lodged at the root of your teeth can decay and be the breeding ground for bacteria that causes tooth destruction.

Exposed teeth also expose the nerve endings, creating tooth sensitivity. Sensitive teeth are an irritating problem, which makes eating anything hot, cold, tart or sweet a literally painful experience. It’s not just cigarettes which are bad for your health. Pipe and cigar smokers face equal health risks when it comes to the question of tobacco usage. Using either on a regular basis will cause the same oral problems that we associate with cigarette smoking. Smokeless tobacco products like chewing tobacco and snuff also contain a larger amount of nicotine than cigarettes, making them more addictive.

Tobacco products are also the leading cause of oral cancer and cancer of the oesophagus. The tar and nicotine present in all tobacco products including cigars and pipe tobacco is the reason why avid smokers develop unsightly brown stains on their teeth. Smoking also darkens the lips because of the exposure of the thin tissues of the lip area to chemicals and heat. Tobacco, in all its forms, is bad for your oral health and that’s a scientifically proven fact.

Regular cleaning by a certified orthodontist can help remove the stains left on your teeth by nicotine and tar. Regular care at the hands of a good dentist and a home care routine also helps maintain the health of your teeth. The key is in maintaining a balance. Reducing the consumption of tobacco can help to a certain extent.

For example, if you smoke a pack of ten cigarettes per day, then try to eventually bring that down to six or five.  But the only way to ensure that your teeth don’t get affected by the long-term effects of tobacco usage is to kick the habit. Quitting tobacco is not an easy ordeal. Nicotine is highly addictive and heavy users can suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms. Therefore the transition has to be gradual. Do not attempt to quit entirely overnight. That way the resolution to stay clean may only last for a few days.

The correct way is to reduce and monitor your usage. Put down a few set times during the day for smoking and try not to deviate. If you lack the conviction or are severely addicted then we would suggest that you contact a medical practitioner. Things like nicotine gum and patches can help a great deal on your road to recovery. Some of these are available over the counter and others require a prescription.

There are other medications available for heavy addicts, but we would always suggest that you visit a physician before taking anything. There are other options like acupuncture therapy and even hypnosis to cure you of your nicotine addiction. But these methods are highly debatable. For some, they have yielded miraculous results and others wave them off as completely ineffective.

At Apollo White Dental you will find multiple services that can help restore tobacco affected teeth to their former state. Schedule an appointment at one of our many centres and get timely care for your teeth. Our services range from simple clean-ups to more intense procedures like teeth implantation. Our expert dental specialists will also advise you on how to care for your teeth at home. It’s never too late to attain perfect oral health, with Apollo White Dental.