Smoking and Your Smile

Many of us know that smoking has many negative effects. However, some people do not know the total effects that smoking can have on your overall and oral health. For example, one of the leading causes of preventable cancers is the use of tobacco.

While lung cancer is the most common form of cancer associated with smoking, it can affect every organ system, including your mouth. 

Image of older man holding his throat in pain smoking and oral health dental concerns dentist in Yardley Pennsylvania

Gum Disease

A common dental issue with people who smoke is gum disease. Gum disease or periodontal disease is an infection of the gums. In its early stages, gum disease causes redness and swelling of the gum tissue. Additionally, your gums may bleed while you brush or floss your teeth. As it advances, the gums and connective tissues can recede, removing support for the teeth. 

Smoking causes an increase in plaque production, which is one cause of gum disease. Plaque is a bacteria that irritates and infects the gums. However, there is another reason why gum disease is common among smokers. 

Many of the chemicals found in cigarettes or cigars are toxic. This interferes with the function of the cells that make up your gum tissue. If your cells cannot regenerate properly, it is harder for you to recover from infections—like gum disease. When these cells are damaged, it can disrupt proper blood flow to the gums. Additionally, this can make you more susceptible to developing gum disease. 

Tooth Decay

If you smoke, you have a higher chance of developing tooth decay. When you smoke, your mouth creates more bacteria. One harmful type of bacteria is called plaque, which causes tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque clings to every surface in your mouth, causing infection and decay. The bacteria creates an acid that slowly erodes your enamel, leaving you vulnerable to decay.

The chemicals found in cigarettes increase the amount of plaque as well as help plaque stick to your teeth. This means that it can make it harder to remove plaque efficiently. In addition, plaque can harden to tartar if you don’t remove it quickly. Unfortunately, only a dental professional can remove tartar during a professional cleaning. If you are someone who smokes, you must go to the dentist regularly for cleanings. 

Discolored Teeth

A common complaint among smokers is that their teeth are discolored. Because of the chemicals in tobacco, you are more likely to experience yellowing of your teeth. Even if you have a solid oral health routine, nicotine and tar can discolor your teeth. While it is possible to whiten your teeth chemically, it may not be as effective the longer you continue to smoke. 

Bad Breath

With an increase in plaque production, you are also likely to have bad breath. Many of the chemicals found in cigarettes cause bad breath, among other issues. A

nother reason smoking can cause bad breath is that it inhibits your ability to produce saliva. If you can’t produce saliva, you may develop a condition called “dry mouth.” Dry mouth causes bad breath and increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.