The Effects Of Smoking On Your Teeth And Gums
This slowly dying habit can still cause a lot of harm for those who continue smoke
Although smoking may have ‘gone out of style’ in the last decade or so, there are still a significant number of people who continue to do so. In 2021 there were approximately 6.5 million people still smoking in the UK and numbers are probably still somewhere around that mark. Worryingly, this figure not only includes people who have always smoked but many that are starting too. The dangers are well known of course but, especially if you are young and healthy, there can be a tendency to bury your head in the sand thinking that your later years are too far away to worry about.
Although the main concern around smoking are the cancers and heart disease that it is often responsible for, smoking will also have a negative impact on your oral health. If you are one of our Chelmsford patients, we hope that today’s blog, which looks at this topic, will discourage you from smoking and lead you to seek help to quit.
The most serious issue that smoking can cause, from an oral health perspective, is mouth cancer, sometimes also called oral cancer. This can not only affect the mouth itself but also extend to the throat and neck. In some instances, it may even spread to the lungs via this route. Whilst it can often be treated if detected early enough, it can also prove to be fatal. Last year, around three thousand people died from this disease with many others suffering from facial disfigurement, speech issues and difficulties with swallowing. While smoking is not responsible for all cases of oral cancer, it is by far the biggest cause and certainly the easiest to help prevent by not smoking.
We can’t emphasise enough how important it is that patients of Blue Sky Dental do everything that they can to quit smoking, and, whether you smoke or not, to attend your six monthly dental check ups. Here we not only look for issues such as gum disease and tooth decay but examine the general health of the oral cavity, including the soft tissues, such as the tongue, for any possible symptoms of oral cancer that might need further investigation.
Another issue which can be more serious than some might think and is greatly increased if you smoke is gum disease, especially the more advanced stage known as periodontitis. While the earlier stage, gingivitis, can have unpleasant symptoms such as sore and bleeding gums, it can often be reversed and managed with improved cleaning and ongoing professional cleans by the hygienist, also better known as a ‘scale and polish’. If your gum health is not monitored and preventive dental care not taken, there is a real risk that it won’t just be your gums that are affected, but the surrounding bone too.
When periodontitis attacks the jawbone, it can start to eat away at it as well as supportive tissues. When this happens, the tooth is likely to become loose and may eventually fall out altogether. While treatments such as a deep clean or root scaling can sometimes prevent this from happening, it isn’t a given and tooth loss may still occur. The only way to prevent losing teeth in this manner is to maintain a healthy mouth, part of which includes quitting smoking.
If you do smoke, there are a number of things that occur to worsen your gum health. This includes a dry mouth which enables potentially harmful bacteria to multiply quickly. Smoking will also narrow the already tiny blood vessels in your gums which would normally help to fight off infections. A combination of these factors means that smoking is likely to greatly increase your chances of suffering from periodontal disease.
Although not as important from a health perspective as the previous two issues, the effect of smoking on your teeth can still have a major impact on your life. While we would all like to have nice looking teeth, the effect of stained teeth can go much wider than our own desires. Studies have shown that we tend to make judgments about new people that we meet within a few seconds, and one of the most important factors is their smile. Someone’s smile can indicate whether they are friendly or not and an unattractive set of teeth may suggest to us that they don’t take pride in their appearance. Whether this is true or not, the reality is that when it comes to situations such as dating or job interviews, a set of stained or discoloured teeth can put us at a significant disadvantage.
Thankfully, patients of Blue Sky Dental can take advantage of the teeth whitening treatments that we have available. You will need to be examined by one of our cosmetic dentistry team to determine which treatment is the most appropriate for yourself but either a teeth whitening procedure or veneers should be able to greatly improve the colour of your teeth.
We can’t emphasise enough how important it is to quit smoking. We are also here to help you maintain a healthy mouth while you do so. For more information on general oral health issues, whether related to smoking or not, or to book an appointment at our Chelmsford dental clinic, please call us today on 01245 211070.