17 Oct Smoking & Your Oral Health
Posted by: Willow Tree Dental and Orthodontic Centre
Medically reviewed by: Dr Peta Leigh BDS (Melb), BSc (Monash)
“Stopping smoking is one of the best things you will ever do for your health”
– Public Health England
Are you taking part in ‘Stoptober’? This month Public Health England focuses on highlighting the risks to your general health and offering a wide range of support and resources to help you stop smoking for good!
But did you know that stopping smoking will improve your dental health too.
Smoking causes significant damage to your mouth, teeth and gums.
It Stains Your Teeth
Staining on your teeth from smoking is due to the nicotine and tar in the tobacco. Your teeth will appear yellow very quickly, and heavy smokers’ teeth often look brown after years of smoking.
You may be inclined to try and remove this staining with special toothpastes for smokers, which tend to be more abrasive than ordinary toothpastes. You should always consult a dentist beforehand.
These types of toothpaste may help with some stain removal but continued use for long periods of time can result in dental abrasion – which can cause irreversible damage to your teeth, wearing away the enamel, making them appear longer, increasing tooth sensitivity and actually making them appear more yellow.
Gives You Bad Breath
There are several reasons why smokers suffer with bad breath. Apart from the obvious smell of smoke left in your mouth, smoking also causes bad breath in other ways.
Tobacco contains toxic chemicals that prompt the growth of bacteria. It is these bacteria that also contribute to bad breath.
The nicotine in cigarettes stay on your teeth and tongue, even after mouth washing. Nicotine leaves a film on your teeth that becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.
In addition to creating the ideal breeding ground for bacteria, smoking also causes your mouth to dry out. Saliva is vital for keeping your mouth clean, it helps to clean away food debris.
So, not only will the tobacco and nicotine be causing bacteria to form but the leftover food debris in your mouth will be encouraging that bacteria to grow and cover your teeth in plaque!
Bacteria in your mouth doesn’t just cause bad breath it also increases your risk of developing gum disease!
Increases Your Risk of Gum Disease
Smoking is one of the most common causes of gum disease in adults.
Gum Disease is caused by the bacteria in the mouth infecting the tissue around the teeth.
Plaque bacteria produce toxins which cause inflammation and damage to the surrounding gum tissue.
Look out for these signs of gum disease
Red or Swollen Gums
Bleeding Gums After Brushing
Pain When Chewing
It Causes Mouth Cancer
Smoking, specifically tobacco, is one of the main causes of mouth cancer. Every year thousands of people die from mouth cancer brought on by smoking.
As we highlighted earlier Tobacco smoke contains toxic chemicals. These chemicals damage the cell’s DNA, which in turn can lead to rapid cell division and causes tumours to grow.
Smoking also effects the body’s immune system which makes it more difficult for your natural defense systems to contain the cancer.
Some of the key signs of mouth cancer
(If not associated with a known medical condition)
Mouth ulcers that don’t heal
Pain in your mouth
Red or white patches in your mouth or throat
A lump in your neck
If you are concerned about any of the above, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible.
How To Improve Your Oral Health
You know what’s coming…Stop Smoking! We understand that kicking the habit can be extremely difficult. And as dental professionals we would never judge any of our patients for smoking.
With that being said we have seen firsthand the damage that smoking can cause to your oral health and will always advise stopping smoking.
In addition to stopping smoking there are a number of other things you can do to help keep your mouth healthy.
Regular Dental Check-ups
Visiting the dentist regularly is vital for maintaining good oral health and detecting dental problems early. (even more so if you smoke)
At Willow Tree Dental we offer comprehensive dental exams, we review your medical history take clinical photographs and any X-rays needed for us to establish any underlying conditions and carry out mouth cancer screenings as standard.
Visit The Hygienist
Many people think that regular hygiene appointments are an optional extra, especially if you have regular dental checkups. The truth is regular, thorough cleans with a dental hygienist are key to preventing dental diseases.
We offer walk-in hygiene appointments (no need for a referral by your dentist) where our expert Hygienist will ensure your teeth are as clean and healthy as possible. She can also help to remove some of those unsightly smoking stains!
You will receive expert Oral hygiene advice and a tailored treatment plan and recall to suit your oral health needs.
If smoking stains on your teeth are preventing you from smiling with confidence, you might consider Teeth Whitening treatment.
We offer a range of tooth whitening options, and our whitening consultation is used to determine which is the best tooth whitening option that’s safe and effective for you!
So why not come along and discuss your options for a brighter, whiter smile.
If you would like to know more about dental treatments at Willow Tree Dental get in touch we’d love to help give you the healthy smile you deserve!
And if you are taking part in Stoptober (it’s not too late to start!) We wish you the best of luck and success.
Here’s to your new healthy lifestyle, you’ve got this!