According to the CDC, about 34.2 million Americans regularly smoke cigarettes. While this number has decreased in recent decades (the smoking population has declined from 20.9% in 2005 to 13.7% in 2018), there are still many people who smoke every day. This is a dangerous habit, as smoking carries a variety of well-documented health risks.
Smoking is detrimental to nearly every aspect of your health, but it is particularly dangerous for your teeth and gums. If you are looking for a reason to quit (and we think you should), here are a few ways that smoking can affect your oral health.
Increases Plaque Buildup
When you inhale cigarette smoke, the smoke in your mouth triggers your salivary glands and causes them to overproduce. This leads to increased saliva in your mouth for a short time.
A little extra saliva might not SEEM like a big deal, but it can have long-lasting impacts on your oral health. See, bacteria in your mouth can use this saliva to take a trip around your gums. As these bacteria move around your mouth, they can settle on your teeth and along your gumline, creating a buildup of tartar and plaque. Over time, this buildup can contribute to gum disease, tooth decay, and other oral problems.
It’s no secret that cigarette smoke discolors everything around it. If you don’t believe us, look at a smoker’s fingers, their clothing, or even the walls of their home! The smoke stains everything it touches, leaving it looking dingy. And guess what: your teeth are no exception to this rule.
A smoker’s teeth encounter smoke every time they light up. The tar and nicotine in cigarettes can easily settle into your tooth enamel and stain them. The result? Your teeth will end up looking yellow – or even brown after many years of tobacco use! This can make you feel insecure or uncomfortable with your smile.
Some smokers may notice that their gums bleed easily after brushing and flossing. This is no coincidence! In fact, this is yet another side effect of smoking. Cigarette smoke restricts blood vessels in your gums, making it more difficult for them to function properly. As a result, a smoker’s gums might become inflamed or infected more often than a non-smoker’s.
It is important to note this side effect because of the way it impacts your oral care. If you smoke, your gums may have a harder time healing after oral surgery or periodontal treatment. Smokers need to be honest with their dentist about their habits so they can receive the most effective oral care.
Contributes to Oral Cancer
Finally, we need to discuss this harrowing fact: according to a study from the University of California, San Francisco, over 80% of people diagnosed with oral cancer were smokers. A vast majority of people who smoke end up suffering from cancer in their mouth, lips, or throat. This statistic alone points to how great a danger smoking presents to your health.
Take Care of Your Teeth
If you are a smoker and you want to take care of your teeth, the best thing you can do is quit (or at least cut back). The next best thing? Visit your dentist regularly for routine checkups and cleanings. This will help prevent your teeth from becoming too damaged, discolored, or decayed.
Call Metro Square Dental Associates today to schedule your next appointment. Our team will be happy to help you get the healthiest smile of your life!