Why Is Smoking So Harmful To Your Teeth?
Advice for Epsom smokers.
It is no great secret that smoking is bad for you. Study after study has shown that smoking is a major contributor to lung diseases, heart attacks and strokes, to say nothing of our general ability to take part in physical activities. Only someone with the type of belief that thinks that the earth is flat could genuinely believe that smoking is a harmless pursuit.
It isn’t just our general health that smoking affects though. Our teeth, gums and mouth in general are all affected by it. This is logical of course, as the smoke inhaled often lingers in the mouth for a while before being expelled. At the Clock Tower Dental Clinic in Epsom, we believe that stopping smoking is essential if you want to have good oral health, and here’s why.
Let’s start with the most serious issue, oral, or mouth, cancers. These are on the rise and can result in disfiguration, or even death. Like most diseases though, if they are detected early on, the prognosis, following treatment, is likely to be more positive. To aid with this, if we detect any suspicious bumps or other potential indicators during your examination, we will refer you to your GP. This is a precautionary approach and does not mean that you definitely have cancer. There may well be other factors at play, but your GP will be able to diagnose this, or refer you to a specialist. We are simply on the front line, and, as we examine our patients every six months or so, are in an excellent position to spot any issues early on.
Oral cancers, even if treated, can lead to problems with speech and even swallowing. Stopping smoking before this happens to you is clearly the way to go!
We have mentioned in other blogs about how gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss. This is largely preventable with better cleaning and seeing the hygienist at our Epsom practice every six months for a thorough cleaning of the teeth and gum line. Poor cleaning though is not the only cause of this issue. Smoking has many side effects, one of which is that it often causes a dry mouth. Over time, a dry mouth whilst you sleep will allow potentially harmful bacteria in your mouth to increase in number, often leading to periodontal problems.
In addition to tooth loss, gum disease may well leave you with bad breath. Add to this the general smell of cigarettes on your breath and your clothes and you may find that people put some distance between you and them during conversations.
Smoking causes the tiny blood vessels in our gums, and mouth in general, to narrow. In turn, this slows down the supply of blood to these areas. This means that any ‘injuries’ whether caused by a graze when brushing or following a dental treatment will not heal as quickly. Not only does this mean some inconvenience whilst you recover, but also an increase in the risk of the injury becoming infected, potentially leading to further complications.
The least serious, but most visible effect of smoking is that it discolours the teeth. Depending on how often and how long you have smoked, this can range from mild discolouration to brown smokers teeth. This is not an attractive look and one that is obviously best avoided. Although there are treatments such as teeth whitening and veneers available, it is still better to avoid this discolouration as much as possible. A teeth whitening procedure may work where the teeth are only lightly stained, but, especially if you continue smoking, you will need to have this treatment at regular intervals to maintain a whiter appearance.
Where the teeth are heavily stained, you may need to consider dental veneers. Although this is a semi-permanent solution to badly stained teeth, it is, nonetheless, an invasive procedure that could likely have been avoided by stopping smoking.
Not only does smoking cause a dry mouth but causes the skin to become more dehydrated too. Over time, this can lead to wrinkles etc appearing much earlier than they would have done if you didn’t smoke. We can offer anti wrinkle treatment, but naturally it is better to avoid this as long as possible by not smoking.
Whether you stop smoking for health reasons or aesthetic ones doesn’t really matter – stopping will probably be one of the most significant things that you ever do to improve your general and oral health. Good care at home, sensible habits and regular dental appointments all combine to help you maintain a healthy mouth throughout your life.
To call the Clock Tower Dental Clinic for an appointment, please ring 01372 720136.