You would have to have been living in a bunker for the past fifty years to not know that smoking is bad for your health. However, while we often hear about the link between smoking and lung cancer; sometimes we neglect to think about the other health problems smoking can cause.
As dentists, we are most concerned about the impact of smoking on your gums and teeth. If you’re a smoker, you may have noticed your teeth have yellowed over time. Perhaps you experience bad breath, or worse, recurring gum infections. Gum infections can be incredibly serious; resulting in periodontal disease, where the soft tissue of your gums and even the bones which support your teeth can be destroyed.
Let’s take a look in more detail at some of the issues smoking can cause for your teeth and gums.
Common Oral Health Complications Linked to Smoking
We’ve mentioned a few of the health issues above, but did you know that smoking can also cause:
- Increased plaque deposits
- Inflammation of your salivary glands
- A range of mouth cancers
So if you’re a smoker, how do you know when you have a problem? The reality is, sometimes you won’t know you have an issue until the issue has progressed; which is why at Brighter Smile Dental we recommend that if you smoke, you visit your dentist more regularly than non-smokers. As a general guide, we recommend that smokers see their dentist at least twice per year. This means your dentist can engage in preventative dentistry – rather than having to undertake expensive and sometimes painful procedures further down the track.
What Symptoms may be a Concern?
If you notice any of the following, you may have gum disease:
- Swelling and redness of gums
- Gaps among teeth and gums
If you notice any of the symptoms below it could indicate the presence of a mouth cancer:
- a lump in your neck
- loose teeth
- swelling or a sore on your lip that won't heel
- difficult or painful swallowing
- changes in speech
- bleeding or numbness in the mouth
- white or red patches on the mouth, tongue or gums
- unexplained weight loss*
How Does Smoking Affect Your Gums and Teeth?
Studies indicate that smoking weakens your immune system; this means you’re automatically more prone to infections, including gum infections. Smoking is also believed to contribute to excessive plaque build-up in your mouth and to increase the amount of harmful bacteria in the plaque. This build up of bacteria is incidentally what causes gum disease. Finally, it’s believed that smoking impairs blood flow. What this means for your teeth and gums is that they aren’t receiving the level of oxygen and nutrients they need, making them more vulnerable to infection and damage.
What Positive Changes Will You Notice When You Quit Smoking?
When you quit smoking you’ll notice positive changes very quickly in terms of your mouth. These changes include:
- Fresher breath
- Greater enjoyment of the flavours in food
- Faster healing of your gums; and
- You may not notice this one, but you’ll also experience a decreased the of excruciating gum diseases and oral cancer
At Brighter Smile Dental we have extensive experience treating patients who smoke. Contact us today for a consultation.