The Dangers Of Smoking On Your Gums And Teeth

December 05, 2014 | Posted in Dental Tips | Be the first one to comment

Do you smoke?

If not, you probably know someone who does.

And if you do smoke, you’re most likely aware of the health risks. Some common ones include lung cancer and heart disease.

But you may be surprised to learn smoking can also cause major problems for your oral health. Besides staining teeth and causing bad breath, smoking increases the chances of developing gum disease.

Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is an infection that erodes the gum and bone tissue that hold your teeth in place. As it worsens, your gums slowly pull away from your teeth, creating pockets between them. The pockets will deepen as more supporting tissue around your teeth is destroyed. Eventually your teeth will hurt, becoming loose and may even fall out.
 
How smoking causes gum disease

Smoking increases the chances of gum disease because it interferes with how your gum cells function. Smoking boosts the amount of harmful bacteria in your mouth and restricts the amount of blood flow to your gums, increasing the chances of them becoming inflamed.  And because of the decreased blood flow, they’re less likely to see the warning signs of bleeding gums – one of the early indicators of gum disease.

Smoking can also speed up the erosion process of gum disease.  Smokers have more tooth loss and deep pockets between gums and teeth than people who don’t smoke. Studies show that people who smoke are 3 to 6 times more likely to have damaged gums.

If that’s not bad enough, smoking makes treating oral problems more difficult as well. This is because the chemicals in cigarettes slow the healing process of your mouth.  In fact, smokers are 2 times more likely to lose their teeth after treatment for gum disease than non-smokers.
 
Are other tobacco products any better for your health?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Other tobacco products, like smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipes are just as bad for your health.

Smokeless tobacco (such as chewing tobacco) has at least 28 oral and throat cancer-causing chemicals and contains more nicotine than cigarettes. This makes them more addictive and harder to quit.  

A study by Temple University also shows that 18% of people who smoke cigars and pipes have moderate to serious gum disease. This is 3 times more than people who don’t smoke.  
 
Why you should stop smoking

Quitting smoking and all forms of tobacco will greatly reduce your risks of health problems.  Research shows that people who quit smoking for 11 years aren’t any more likely to get gum disease. 

Even cutting back will make a huge difference. People who smoke more than a pack and half per day are 6 times more at risk of getting gum disease; however, people who smoke less than half a pack per day are only 3 times more at risk.

We understand that kicking the smoking habit can be difficult – especially if you’ve been doing it for a while. Talking to your dentist is a good first step. Your dentist will be able highlight the harmful effects of smoking on your gums and teeth. He or she will also be able to help you find ways to quit, like recommending brands of nicotine patches and gum.

Like most things in life, quitting smoking is going to time and effort. So it’s important to remember to take it 1 step at a time.

Have any tips to quit smoking? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below.
 

Sources:

British Dental Health Foundation. “Sundry › Smoking and oral health”

http://www.dentalhealth.org/tell-me-about/topic/sundry/smoking-and-oral-health

Colgate. “Smoking: A Danger to Healthy Gums”

http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Medical-Conditions/Cancer-Oral-Health/article/Smoking-A-Danger-To-Healthy-Gums.cvsp

Tammy Davenport. “Smoking and Dental Problems Dental Problems Associated with Tobacco Use”

http://dentistry.about.com/od/dentalhealth/a/smoking.htm

Webmd. “Smoking and Oral Health”

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/smoking-oral-health

 


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