America is the home to over 36 million smoking adults. And more than half are living with a disease related to smoking.
The information that’s out there regarding the health risks of smoking hasn’t deterred the population from continuing to smoke. And this leads to more and more people developing problems, such as smoker’s teeth.
To date, cigarette smoking is the top cause of preventable diseases in the US. About one in every five deaths is related to smoking. This accounts for about 480,000 deaths annually.
If you or someone you know is addicted to nicotine and is dealing with smoker’s teeth, then the following information is for you.
We’ll cover some of the oral problems related to smoking cigarettes.
How Do Cigarettes Lead to Smoker’s Teeth?
When you smoke cigarettes, it creates a mental and physical dependency. All areas of your body are adversely harmed by smoking, including your throat and mouth.
It’s common for the first effects of smoking to occur with your teeth. In most cases, you can tell a smoker from a non-smoker just by looking at their teeth.
Cigarettes contain hundreds of cytotoxic chemicals, which release into your body each time you smoke. It can impair your body’s functionality and immunity over time. Your mouth is especially impacted when you smoke for a long time.
Smoking can lead to all sorts of problems for your teeth and gums, such as:
- Bad breath
- Gum diseases
- Abrasion of the teeth
- Oral cancer
- Delayed wound healing
- Failed tooth implants
- Hairy tongue
- Stains on teeth and dentures
Next, we’ll take a closer look at smoker’s teeth and the various oral problems cigarettes cause.
Smoking and Gum Diseases
Now, there are different types of gum diseases, which include gingivitis, periodontitis, and ANUG (acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis).
These issues can develop into very serious conditions, so we’ll delve a little deeper.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an infection that occurs in your gums. However, it also affects bone structures that give support to your teeth. When it goes on for too long, it can lead to your teeth falling out.
In America, gum disease is most common in smokers. It begins with bacteria forming on your teeth. Then the germs spread beneath your gums. When the germs stay for too long, a film known as plaque begins to form.
The build-up is the early warning sign of periodontal disease or gingivitis. Over time, the condition can grow worse, causing your gums to recede (pull away from your teeth). The spaces formed between your teeth can then get infected.
At this point, it’s a severe case of gum disease called periodontitis. The gums and bone that hold your teeth begin to break down and your teeth will either fall out or need removal.
Let’s learn a little more about these conditions.
This form of gum disease can cause redness around your gums. For some people, it leads to pink in the sink when they brush their teeth. The condition seems to be worse for smokers than non-smokers with similar oral hygiene.
It’s the nicotine in cigarettes that can lead to your blood vessels narrowing. This reduces your gum’s blood supply. And, in turn, it leads to a limited immune response, which makes it harder for your body to respond to toxic oral microbes or bacteria, such as plaque.
In other words, these small problems can quickly grow into a major concern.
This is what occurs after gingivitis when it’s allowed to progress. When you’re diagnosed with periodontal disease, this means you have irreversible destruction of the gums and bones surrounding your teeth.
Those who smoke are at an increased risk of developing this disease. The damage occurs faster in smokers and the treatment provided doesn’t respond as well as it does in non-smokers.
Calculus is the culprit that causes your gums to recede. It also leads to bone loss and periodontal pockets.
Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis is a condition that occurs in extreme cases. For instance, smokers who go through more than 10 cigarettes daily.
Again, your blood flow reduces when you smoke, which limits your gum’s immune functions. Combine this with poor oral hygiene and the bacteria will quickly invade your gums and lead to painful ulcers.
As you can see, there are many concerns relating to smoker’s teeth. Being a smoker places you at special risk of painful oral conditions. But we’re not done yet.
Next, we will take a look at some of the other issues you can develop.
Halitosis (Bad Breath)
Unpleasant oral odors are fairly common in smokers. Halitosis is another term for bad breath. It typically comes about when bacteria break down the proteins in your mouth.
However, in smokers, it can occur due to the retention and exhalation of smoke. In fact, it’s worse for people who smoke pipes and cigars, since these have more sulfur.
Here’s one that’s a bit scarier than smoker’s teeth. Oral cancer is a very real concern when you consistently use tobacco products. When you smoke cigarettes, it causes the release of toxins, carcinogenic chemicals, and irritants in your mouth.
It then alters your mucosal lining in your mouth’s tissues. Over time, this leads to alterations in the mucosal barrier. This leads to changes in the pH, temperature, and immunity of your gums.
Eventually, this can cause oral cancer. Studies show that smokers have a 6x higher chance of oral cancer than those who don’t smoke. If you drink alcohol and smoke, then you’re at an even higher risk of getting mouth cancer.
Smoker’s Teeth (Teeth Stains)
The more calculus you have, the deeper the stains will be. And how often you smoke plays a role in how much calculus you’ll have.
It’s a bit harder to remove stains from dentures since the stains embed into the plastic.
Tooth Wear and Tear
Abrasion is another issue smokers have, especially those who hold their cigar or pipe in one place. Doing so will lead to sensitivity to the teeth consistently exposed to the pipe. This gives teeth an ugly notched look.
It’s also common for smokers to over-brush their teeth, attempting to remove the stains. This too can lead to severe abrasion.
Now, this doesn’t mean you’ll grow hair on your tongue. However, it does cause a black substance to develop over your tongue.
This is due to your epithelial cells not shedding the way they’re supposed to. It causes filiform papillae to appear longer, resembling hairs.
Delayed Wound Healing
This is just as painful as it sounds. Not being able to heal wounds in your mouth in a timely manner can be a real pain. This is especially true if you’ve recently had dental surgery or teeth extractions.
It’s advised that you not smoke after these treatments, so the wounds can heal faster. And if you choose to smoke anyway, this places you at a higher risk of a painful dry socket. This is a painful condition that happens when a blood clot forms at the site of a tooth extraction.
The reduced healing ability is due to your reduced blood supply. Dryness and nicotine both contribute to this.
Dental implants are also affected by delayed wound healing. These additions don’t mount well into your jaw bone. Bone and gum disease around the implant increases the chance of it failing.
Are Smokeless Tobacco Products Better?
As mentioned, cigarettes, cigars, and pipes can all lead to smoker’s teeth and other conditions. However, this doesn’t mean smokeless tobacco products are any safer.
This includes snuff and chewing tobacco. These also contain, at minimum, 28 chemicals that can lead to oral and esophageal cancer.
It’s important to note that chewing tobacco actually has a higher content of nicotine than cigarettes. This makes it even more addictive than smoking and much harder to quit.
Avoid Smoker’s Teeth with Better Oral Hygiene
The best way to prevent smoker’s teeth is to quit smoking. Meanwhile, you can improve your oral hygiene with the right kits and tools.
For instance, you can use whitening kits and teeth whitening pens to keep your smile white. You can find this right here at Smile Supply.
Our products are great whether you’re a smoker or not. Stop by today to see how we can help improve your smile!