How can smoking affect my oral health?
Most people are now aware that smoking is bad for their health.
It can cause many different medical problems and, in some cases, fatal diseases.
However, many people don’t realise the damage that smoking does to their mouth, gums and teeth.
Smoking can lead to tooth staining, gum disease, tooth loss, and in more severe cases mouth cancer.
Cosmetic – yellow staining and sometimes a solid brown colour, accompanying the stained appearance there is a high chance of bad breath (halitosis) due to the buildup of bacterial plaque. These problems can lead to self-confidence issues and self -esteem issues, potentially trying to hide your smile and being less confident in conversations.
These problems are reason enough to seek dental treatment and also to quit or cut back on smoking, but also they can be signs that more serious damage could be present.
How will smoking affect my gums and teeth?
Smoking can also lead to gum disease. People who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque, which leads to gum disease.
The gums are affected because smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, so the infected gums don’t heal. Smoking causes people to have more dental plaque and causes gum disease to get worse more quickly than in non-smokers.
Gum disease is still the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. Smoking increases the risk of gum disease, also known as periodontitis, a condition that can lead to the erosion of bone under the gums causing teeth to become loose and potential tooth loss.
Periodontitis has also been linked to a range of other serious conditions including diabetes, increased risk of heart disease.
How is smoking linked with cancer?
Most people know that smoking can cause lung and throat cancer, but many people still don’t know that it is one of the main causes of mouth cancer too. Every year thousands of people die from mouth cancer brought on by smoking.
How often should I visit my dentist?
It is important that you visit your dental team regularly for a normal check-up and a full mouth examination so that any other conditions can be spotted early.
You should visit your dental team regularly, as often as they recommend.
People who smoke are more likely to have stained teeth, and therefore may need appointments more often with the dental hygienist.
What can my dentist do for me?
Your dentist will carry out a regular examination to make sure that your teeth and gums and whole mouth are healthy.
Your dental team will also examine your cheeks, tongue and throat for any signs of other conditions that may need more investigation.
They may also be able to put you in touch with organisations and self-help groups who will have the latest information to help you stop smoking.
Will I need any extra treatment?
Your dentist may also refer you to a dental hygienist, for extra treatment, thorough cleaning and to keep a closer check on the health of your mouth. Your dental hygienist will be able to advise you on how often you should visit them, although this should usually be every three to six months.