Smoking and Oral Health

Smoking affects the entire mouth. It causes plaque, tartar, cavities, tooth discoloration, loss of bone within the jaw, periodontal diseases, leukoplakia (white patches in the mouth) and even oral cancer. Depending on the amount and length of time a person has smoked they can expect to develop a combination of oral diseases.

Plaque: The plaque that smokers develop has an increased amount of bacteria and this increases the risk of developing gum disease. This plaque can also travel from the mouth into the bloodstream and affect the health of the heart.

Periodontal Disease: Smoking reduces the blood flow to the gums, which then deprives them of oxygen and nutrients. These nutrients help the gums stay healthy and protected against bacterial infections. Smoking enhances the risks of developing gum diseases and smokers are four times more likely to develop advanced periodontal disease. This can lead to tooth loss.

Oral Cancer: 75% of people diagnosed with oral cancer are nicotine users, and the death rate for oral cancer is higher than any other cancer. Heavy smokers are six times more likely to develop oral cancer. Regular visits to the dentist and oral hygienist will help diagnose oral cancer, so that it can be treated as early as possible. Of all the people who suffer from cancer of the mouth, lips, tongue and throat, 90% are tobacco users. The duration of the habit and the amount smoked, are all factors that will increase the development of these cancers.

Quitting smoking is the only way to avoid developing these oral diseases and to get oral hygiene back on track. Quitting immediately will reduce the serious risks greatly, no matter how long the patient has been smoking. There are many methods and ways out there to help smokers, the dentist or doctor may suggest medications such as nicotine patches or nicotine gum. There are herbal, natural and chemical treatments offered to smokers. It is massively important to work out a plan to finally quit smoking, which would then improve all areas of health, not only oral hygiene.