It is all but impossible to ignore the dangers of smoking and tobacco use. However, while most of us are aware that cigarettes have been linked to diseases such as lung cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and heart disease, few are aware of the affects that smoking has on dental health.
Smoking compromises dental health and leaves many of our East Honolulu, HI patients with a smile that is not as healthy or attractive as they would like. Dr. Rohinton Patel offers a comprehensive range of dental services at his family dentistry practice to combat the effects of smoking, but the most effective way to protect the teeth from the effects of smoking is to quit this unhealthy habit.
Smoking and Gum Disease
Smoking has been identified as a risk factor for gum disease. Smoking can impact the gums in a number of ways. First, smoking interferes with blood flow within the body, which makes it difficult for tissues to fight off infection or heal.
Second, smoking is believed to interfere with the normal functions of the cells within the gum tissues.
Finally, smoking can cause the gums to recede, or pull away from, the teeth. This creates pockets of space that allow harmful bacteria to make their way into the delicate gum tissues, where an infection can develop.
Smoking and Dry Mouth
Cigarettes and other tobacco products (including chewing tobacco) are known to interfere with the functions of the salivary glands. When the mouth consistently lacks moisture, or saliva, dry mouth is present.
Dry mouth can be pretty uncomfortable, leaving many with a consistently parched or cottony feeling in the mouth or throat. However, the real concern with dry mouth is that it increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Saliva is a natural cleanser and without it, dental health will suffer.
Smoking and Oral Cancer
Smoking is a leading cause of lung cancer, but it can increase the risk of other cancers as well, most notably, oral cancer. Chemicals within cigarettes can lead to mutations in the cells of the mouth or throat.
The Cancer Treatment Centers of America reports that around 80 percent of people who get oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers either smoke or use chewing tobacco.
Smoking and Tooth Discoloration
Although tooth discoloration is primarily a cosmetic concern, it is a problem that is important to many of our dental patients. Smoking can cause tobacco or nicotine stains to form on the teeth. Depending on the severity of stains, they may be yellow or brown in color.
Although tobacco stains tend to be extrinsic in nature, meaning that they exist on the outer layer of the tooth and will respond to teeth whitening treatment, they are still a concern. As long as patients continue to smoke, new dental stains will develop, no matter how often they are treated.
Individuals who smoke need to be especially diligent about their oral hygiene habits and professional dental care routine. If you are a smoker who is concerned about your dental health, contact us at your earliest convenience.
Dr. Rohinton Patel can create a treatment plan that will help restore your oral health, as well as protect your teeth from further dental complications. To learn more, call our dental practice at (808) 955-0008.