As little as 30 years ago, the link between cigarette or cigar smoking and the health of the body was only vaguely understood. But now, the health implications of tobacco-use are widely documented in medical literature. And the statistics relating to the development of serious and potentially fatal illnesses as a result of chronic tobacco-use serve only to illustrate the dangers of this wholly unnecessary habit. With the abundance of information available on the health concerns surrounding the use of tobacco, it is a marvel that people still make the conscious decision to pursue the habit.
It is only through education and repeated exposure to the truly horrifying ramifications of smoking and tobacco-use that more and more people will kick the habit or steer clear of this literal death sentence altogether. In an effort to contribute to this wealth of information, this four-part article series, strives to provide a better understanding of the link between tobacco-use and oral health. In this article, the first installment of the series, we shall begin by examining the various deleterious effects of smoking on one’s oral health.
The Effects of Smoking on Your Oral Health
1. Smoking and Bad Breath
Bad breath is perhaps the most successful social deterrents. There is absolutely nothing more nauseating than speaking to someone who smells as though something has crawled into their mouth and died. Now imagine how it would feel to know that that person is YOU. Tobacco-use causes bad breath, and this is not only because the smoke (and all the dangerous chemicals in it) leaves behind a bad odor in the mouth. Smoking retards the healthy flow of saliva, causing a condition known as ‘dry mouth’. Because saliva is the body’s natural defense against bacteria, smoker’s mouths become more susceptible to bacterial activity, which in turn increases the risk of tooth decay and gum infection (gingivitis). This odorous problem stems directly from the oral bacteria, which produce sulfur compounds as by-products. It’s these foul-smelling wastes that cause bad breath. In other words, smokers struggle with oral hygiene issues.
2. Smoking and Tooth Discoloration
Tobacco products contain around 4,000 chemicals, including nicotine and tar. And it’s these toxic substances that penetrate into the porous enamel of the teeth causing them to turn an unattractive shade of yellow and even brown. Over time, the staining can become quite acute and – coupled with gum inflammation and infection (a common result of smoking) – can drastically degrade the appearance of one’s smile.
3. Smoking and Inflammation of the Soft Tissues in the Mouth
The incredible number of chemicals in tobacco smoke can also serve to irritate the soft tissues in the mouth. The heat of the smoke itself can damage the gums, tongue, buccal lining (inner cheeks), throat and soft palate. While this may initially expresses itself in inflammation of the soft tissue, chronic exposure to these irritants can actually increase a patient’s risk of developing serious and potentially fatal illnesses, including the full suite of oral cancers, warns the dentist in Hollywood.
The Dentist in Hollywood: Stay Tuned
Stay tuned for the second installment of this four-part series, in which this dentist in Hollywood will continue to explore the effects of smoking upon your oral health.