Does Smoking Affect Your Teeth - The Long Term and Short Term Effects of Smoking
It is not breaking news if you were told that smoking is bad for you! The long term effects of smoking can be severe and could lead to a wide range of general and oral health problems. Does smoking affect your teeth? Yes, it does! However, in spite of the various warnings on the health effects of smoking, most smokers choose to ignore these, while blatantly disregarding its many consequences.
To bring things into perspective, here is some data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare which shows that smoking is prevalent in the Australian population, with nearly half (49%) being current or former smokers.
According to the reports, 12% of people in the age group 14 and over smoke daily, while 89% of individuals take to smoking in their teens. Moreover, with an estimated 37,300 treatment episodes provided by specialist alcohol and other drug agencies in 2014-2015, most of the cases involved nicotine as a drug of concern.
So, how is smoking and dental health related? What are the effects of smoking on oral health? What are the long and short term effects of smoking? Let’s find out!
Smoking and General Health – What Does Smoking Do To You?
The side effects of smoking are many. Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for many illnesses such as lung and cardiovascular diseases, poor pregnancy outcomes, and oral diseases including oral cancers and periodontitis. The role of smoking in the pathogenesis of these diseases is believed to be associated with a deficient host immune function, causing an increased risk of disease and poor wound healing. Smoking also impairs the revascularization of bone and soft tissues, further impairing healing.
Smoking and Oral Health - What Does Smoking Do To Your Teeth?
- Plaque and Tartar: Chemicals present in tobacco products like cigarettes tend to affect the saliva flow, making it easier for bacteria to settle in, resulting in the build-up of bacteria-laden plaque that develops on the teeth and along the gum line. If the plaque is not removed daily, it can harden into tartar (dental calculus), which can then only be removed through professional teeth cleaning.
- Periodontal Disease: Does smoking cause gum disease? Yes, it does! You are up to six times more likely to have periodontal disease if you are a smoker. Smoking and periodontal disease are closely linked. There is also evidence that smokers experience greater tooth loss than non-smokers. As such, this is yet another ill-effect that smoking cause. If you are a smoker, you can take a periodontal test today to determine the health of your gums and teeth.
- Dental Implant Failure: Smoking also increases the risk of dental implant failure. Following a dental implant if you continue smoking, then the chances of it failing are 3 times more likely than those in non-smokers. Additionally, you run a greater risk of contracting various infections.
- Healing and Response to Surgery : Tobacco smokers have a significantly greater incidence of complications after an extraction. For example, Alveolar Osteitis - inflammation of the alveolar bone. Another side effect of smoking is delayed or slow healing post-surgery due to the weak immune system.
- Discolouration of Teet: Did you know that your teeth have pores, just like your skin? That’s right! When you smoke, the nicotine and tar in tobacco are absorbed by these pores, which causes discolouration. Getting yellow teeth from smoking is quite common. However, in worse scenario, your teeth may also turn brown or even black, in which case you may need to opt for teeth whitening services.
- Tooth Loss: As mentioned above, since smoking is one of the risk factors associated with periodontal disease, as it causes inflammation around the tooth and weakens the bones & the supporting structure causing tooth decay and cavities, it can lead to tooth loss.
This is true even for electronic cigarettes, as the vapour contains nicotine. Plus, the other chemicals and heavy metals in e-cigarettes can cause receding gums, tooth loss, and since it affects the saliva production, it could lead to bad breath. For some smokers, depending on their method of inhalation, certain teeth may become severely discoloured than the rest. This can adversely affect their appearance, negatively impacting their social life.
Long Term and Short Term Effects of Smoking
- Oral Cancer: Tobacco contains numerous chemicals which increase the risk of oral cancer in individuals. It is by far one of the most harmful effects of tobacco and many studies reveal that you are 4.4 times more likely to be affected by oral cancer if you are a smoker.
- Other Lesions: Smoking causes other illness too such as Leukoplakia - a condition where white patches develop on your tongue or inside the cheek, Oral Mucosal Lesions and Oral Keratosis. All these diseases increase the risk of oral cancer.
- Bad Breath: One of the immediate effects of smoking is bad breath. While the causes of bad breath are many, smoking is one of the biggest reasons as the residue of nicotine from cigarettes lingers in the mouth for hours. This causes not only bad breath but also other dental problems. Smokers breath can also cause severe social and personal embarrassment, which could lead to seclusion.
- Lower Life Expectancy : Several studies show that smoking shortens the life span by at least 10 years when compared to those who have never smoked. On an average, smoking 1 to 4 cigarettes a day can increase the risk of dying prematurely significantly. Also, it is estimated that two-thirds of smokers will die due to smoking, as it adversely affects almost all body organs and bodily system.
- Passive Smoking: Also known as ‘second-hand smoke (SHS),’passive smoking can affect the health and well-being of people who breathes in the smoke, when in the presence of smokers. Since they are exposed to the chemical substances in the smoke, even inhaling a small amount can be detrimental to their health. It can also irritate the eyes and nose. Plus, it can cause health problems such as heart disease, respiratory problems, lung cancer, and is particularly harmful to babies and kids.
- Other Problems : Excessive coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, lack of energy, reduction in the sense of taste and smell are some of the other long term effects of smoking that can affect your health as well as social life. Smokers are also at risk of other severe health problems such as respiratory or lung problems (asthma), problems related to the heart and blood vessels, fertility problems, etc.
Be it smoking and cavities or smoking and gum disease, everything is co-related and can hamper your general & oral well-being. If you are serious about quitting smoking, then talk to your GP or Dentist today. On average, at least five or six attempts to quit are made by a smoker before being successful, and all attempts need to be perceived as a learning experience for all involved in the process.
For more information visit – http://www.health.qld.gov.au/quitsmoking/