Smoking not only has negative effects on your lungs, but it can also lead to oral health problems. Smokers have a higher risk of teeth and gums problems than non-smokers. Also, smoking can weaken your body’s defense against infections, which means you are at a higher risk of getting oral infections. So, if you are a smoker, you should take appropriate care of your teeth and gums. In this blog post, we will look at what happens to smokers’ teeth and gums. Also, how to keep your teeth gums healthy if you are a smoker.
What are the Teeth and Gums Problems That Smokers Suffer From?
Dental plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria that builds up on your teeth and gums. These bacteria break down the food you eat and release acids that attack the tooth enamel and irritate the gums. Smokers have higher levels of plaque buildup in their mouths than non-smokers because smoking reduces the flow of saliva in the mouth, causing dry mouth. Saliva plays an important role in cleansing the mouth, removing food particles, and neutralizing acids produced by bacteria.
Smokers have a higher risk of getting gum diseases and tooth decay compared to non-smokers. Long-term use of tobacco lowers mouth pH levels, which makes smokers more susceptible to oral infections. Here are some of the teeth and gums problems smokers may experience:
- Gum disease
- Tooth decay
- Tooth discoloration
- Bad breath
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an oral infection that affects the gums and the tissues that support your teeth. It usually starts with the build-up of plaque on your gums, which can cause inflammation and swelling of the gums. As the infection grows, the infection will spread to the tooth-supporting tissues. Smokers have twice the risk for gum diseases than non-smokers because smoking reduces the flow of saliva in the mouth that helps neutralize bacterial acids. Gum disease in smokers can cause complications that affect your teeth and gums:
- Receding gums.
- Periodontal pockets.
- Pain with chewing.
- Abscess between teeth and gums.
- Changes in the way teeth fit together (malocclusion).
- The development of spaces between teeth.
- Loose teeth and tooth loss are due to the destruction of the supporting tissues of your teeth. Learn more about smoking and gum disease.
Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, is a progressive disease caused by the breakdown of your tooth enamel due to bacterial acids. It is caused when acids from plaque bacteria break down the hard outer layer of your teeth (enamel) to form holes in them. Smokers have higher levels of plaque buildup than non-smokers, which can accelerate tooth decay and gum disease. Besides, smoking can cause dry mouth, which also contributes to tooth decay. Complications of tooth decay from smoking include:
- Sensitivity to sweets and cold foods and drinks.
- Continues pain when bacteria reach the inner of the tooth (pulp).
- Dental abscess due to infection of the tooth pulp.
- Tooth decay grows over time, destroying the tooth.
- Tooth loss.
Smokers have a higher risk of developing yellow, grey, and black stains on their teeth. This is caused by chemical substances in tobacco that deposit onto the tooth surface when smokers inhale from cigarettes or other forms of tobacco. Learn more about how does smoking makes your teeth yellow.
Smokers have not only teeth stains but also gums pigmentation or darkening. This condition is known as smoker’s melanosis, which is brown to black gum pigmentation. It occurs due to irritation from chemical substances in tobacco smoke.
Persistent bad breath is a common problem that smokers experience because they have drier mouths than non-smokers. A dry mouth increases the number of bacteria, which are the main source of bad breath odor. These bacteria accumulate on the smoker’s tongue, gums, and around teeth, which cause your breath to smell bad. Besides, smokers suffer from tooth decay and gum disease that can also be a source of bad breath odor.
Complications That Occur for Smokers After Teeth and Gums Surgery
Smokers have more complications than non-smokers after they perform teeth extraction and gums surgery. Smoking after oral surgery can cause:
- Discomfort or pain.
- Inflammation and swelling around surgical incisions.
- A greater chance of getting an infection after your operation.
- Increased bleeding after the procedure.
- Delayed or incomplete healing.
- The failure of oral surgery.
Tips for Smokers to Keep Their Teeth and Gums Healthy
Quitting smoking is the best way to improve your oral health. However, if you can’t quit at the moment, you can still improve your oral health. Smokers can keep their teeth and gums healthy by:
- Practice good oral hygiene: smokers should brush their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque from teeth and gums. Also, floss once a day.
- Smoke in moderation: heavy smokers should limit the number of cigarettes that they smoke per day.
- Eat nutritious foods: smokers need more nutrients than non-smokers because smoking can affect your metabolism and the quality of food you intake. You need to eat a well-balanced diet that contains protein, calcium, and vitamin C.
- Drink lots of water: smokers suffer from dry mouth, which causes bad breath and can lead to tooth decay. So, drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to remain well hydrated.
- Limit sugary food and drinks: smokers have a higher risk of tooth decay if they enjoy sweet foods and beverages.
- Get regular professional teeth cleanings at least once every 6 months to remove plaque and tartar.
Smokers Teeth and Gums – Conclusion
Smokers have higher risks of developing gum disease, tooth decay, teeth stains, gum pigmentation, and bad breath. Besides these oral problems, smokers also don’t heal well after surgery. Quitting smoking is the best way to improve your oral health. Smokers can keep their teeth and gums healthy by maintaining good oral hygiene, eat nutritious foods, and visit a dentist regularly for professional teeth cleanings.