Smoking and Dental Health

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Smoking and Dental Health

It is now commonly accepted that smoking contributes to respiratory and heart diseases but did you know that smoking, whether it be cigarettes, pipes or cigars is also detrimental to your oral health?

Aside from the obvious conditions of halitosis (bad breath) and unsightly stained or discoloured teeth, there are many other serious factors to consider including:

  • Increased risk of oral cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that about 90% of people suffering mouth cancer, and some types of throat cancer, have used tobacco.
  • Increased risk of developing gum disease – a leading cause of tooth loss. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection which destroys the soft tissue and bone which support your teeth and anchor them in your jawbone. In the early stages of periodontitis, your gums may bleed with brushing or flossing and pockets form around your teeth where bacteria gather. Left untreated, these pockets deepen and your teeth can become painful, loose or even fall out. The chemicals in tobacco interrupt the blood flow to the gums and slow the healing process. Poor bone healing is why implants are much more likely to fail in smokers.
  • Increased loss of bone within the jaw which can limit dental procedures such as dental implants or necessitate bone grafting.
  • Delayed healing process following tooth extraction and a higher likelihood of ‘dry socket’, a painful inflammation of the jawbone that can occur 2-3 days after extraction. Nicotine causes a decrease in the blood supply in the mouth which hinders a necessary healing blood clot failing to form in the extraction socket.
  • Increased risk of leukoplakia – white patches within the mouth.
  • Increased build up of plaque and tartar on the teeth.
  • Poorer results with cosmetic dentistry. Crowns, bridges and veneers look fantastic when they are first fitted, but receding gums and bone that is more common to smokers, means they lose their beautiful appearance faster than non-smoker’s crowns and veneers.

It is therefore especially important that smokers have regular 6 month hygiene and check up appointments with their dentist. If you are considering dental implants, your dentist will ask you to cease smoking and smokers must be made aware of the increased risk of failure with this procedure.