Smoking and Oral Health, PART 2

The Effects of Smoking on Your Oral Health, PART 2

This four-part article series explores the connection between tobacco-use and the health, aesthetics and longevity of the hard and soft tissues in the mouth.

In our previous article installment, we began this four-part series by discussing some of the effects of tobacco-use (both chewing and smoking) on one’s oral health and smile aesthetics. Consequences such as bad breath, tooth discoloration and inflammation of the soft tissues in the mouth were covered. In this, the second article installment, we shall continue to examine the health implications of this terrible habit before, in the third part of the series, addressing the benefits of kicking the habit.

Tobacco-Use and Your Oral Health

  1.  Smoking and the Formation of Plaque and Tartar

Smoking affects the natural flow of saliva in the mouth, which is essentially the body’s defense against bacteria. This renders the mouth far more susceptible to bacterial activity and the formation of plaque; a whitish soft sticky substance composed entirely of bacteria. Without regular and thorough cleaning – more than just twice daily brushing – this plaque hardens to form deposits of tartar, which in turn causes tooth decay, cavities, gum inflammation and infection. In the absence of proper oral hygiene and regular appointments, the accumulation of tartar on the teeth can lead to a chronic and acute infection of the periodontium (the supporting structure of the teeth), as well as tooth loss!

  1. Smoking and the Formation of Leukoplakia

Leukoplakia are rough white patches caused by chronic irritation of the soft tissues in the mouth. This is generally in response to the excessive heat of tobacco smoke, as well as the thousands of harmful chemicals in it. These oral lesions, while painless, are terribly unsightly and can lead to the development of cancer. As such, it is best that patients have any suspicious oral growths checked out and biopsied immediately.

  1. Smoking and Gum Disease

Tobacco-use leads to the chronic and acute bacterial infection of the supporting structures of the teeth, namely the gums. And it does this in several different ways:

  • Tobacco-use stunts the healthy flow of saliva in the mouth, causing an increased vulnerability to bacterial activity.
  • Tobacco-use thickens the blood, thus hindering circulation to the teeth and gums. This directly interferes with the body’s ability to heal and cope with infection.
  • Tobacco-use affects the normal functioning of gum tissue cells, rendering them more vulnerable to infection.
  1. Smoking and Oral Cancer

It is well understood and documented in medical literature that smoking leads to an increased risk of developing a whole list of cancers. Chronic infection of the soft tissues in the mouth can in particular lead to the formation of growths and lesions that may be found to be cancerous. The body’s response to chronic inflammation – as is consistent with gum disease – can also lead to a patient’s increased risk of developing cancer in other parts of the body.

Boca Raton Dentists: Summing Up the Effects of Smoking on Your Oral Health

Before we end this article installment, let’s sum up the impacts of this wholly unnecessary habit. Smoking causes:

  • Bad breath
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Inflammation of the oral soft tissues
  • The formation of leukoplakia
  • Increased oral bacteria activity
  • Gum infection and disease
  • Inflammation of the salivary glands
  • Tooth loss and jaw bone loss
  • Impaired ability to heal
  • Oral cancer

Stay Tuned

To find out how kicking the habit can benefit your oral health and for advice on how patients can quit, stay tuned for the third and fourth installment of this four-part article series.