What Cigarettes Do To Your Teeth
Tobacco is well known as a risk to your health, from lung cancer to heart disease, and on and on. And if you know that, you probably also know that it can damage your teeth too. But what exactly can it do to your oral health? It turns out, a lot more and worse than just turning white teeth brown.
If you know anyone who smoked for decades, you know how ugly regular smoking can make teeth. Tobacco smoke contains tar, and habitual use gradually deposits that tar into your teeth. Frequency of use – a pack a day versus, say, two cigarettes – affects how fast teeth discolor; it never happens overnight, or even over a month or two. But the awful fact is that by the time you notice a change in your own teeth, you may already be nicotine-dependent.
Also known as gum disease, it is caused by a bacterial infection in the gums and its symptoms include red or swollen gums that may bleed easily. In some cases the gums may even pull back from the teeth, opening up more spaces for infection.
Other factors for periodontal disease include diabetes and heredity, and more effective oral hygiene can reduce the risk, but there’s not getting away from it that regular tobacco use is a big contributor.
Tobacco smoke leaves behind a residue of minute particles that when moisturized can form an abrasive paste that will wear down teeth fast. By eroding the enamel, it also opens up many more chances for germs to get in and cavities to form.
Healthy gums are necessary for healthy teeth. When the gums are diseased, it is harder for them to hold onto teeth. Not only do the infections of periodontitis weaken the gums, but they can also work their way into the teeth, infecting them and causing them to weaken, break, or fall out. Research suggests that men who smoke are more than twice as likely to lose teeth as men who don’t.
Just as periodontitis can spread to the teeth, it can infect the bone and damage it as well. Bone infected in this way becomes weaker and even lose mass. In severe cases, this requires restorative surgery like bone grafts to prevent the jaw essentially falling apart.
Limited oral treatment options
Smoking increases the bacteria and inflammation in your mouth while reducing blood flow. With these preexisting problems, certain dental treatments may not be possible. Implants need strong bone to anchor into, and bridges need strong teeth as abutments. With the above problems associated with tobacco use therefore, these might not be options.
Longer recovery times
On a related note, nicotine reduces the effectiveness of the immune system and slows down the body’s healing. You do have oral surgery and you smoke, or if you are fighting gum disease, it may take you longer to recover.
As you can see, most of these risks come down a common factor: periodontal disease. As with many other diseases early detection is an advantage. If you smoke and have concerns about gum disease, or if you have any further questions, call Apple Valley Dental Group in Front Royal at 540-635-2493 or email us on our website.