Smoking and Your Oral Health

By now, most of us realize how devastating smoking and using other tobacco products can be to your overall health. The negative effects of smoking on your lungs and cardiovascular system have been well-documented. However, you may not be fully aware of how smoking affects your oral health. Smoking results in a variety of dental health issues including bad breath, tooth discoloration, increased build-up of plaque and tartar, accelerated bone loss and an increased risk for oral cancer.

Tooth discoloration caused by smoking is one of the most difficult types to treat. Unlike stains that are caused by certain foods and beverages, stains and discoloration that are caused by smoking are very difficult to remove. Most whitening procedures are simply not strong enough to whiten teeth that are severely yellowed due to smoking. That leaves more expensive options such as covering the teeth with crowns or getting porcelain veneers.

The increased build up of plaque and tartar caused by smoking can cause periodontal disease, an infection of the tissues and bone supporting the teeth. Gum disease can cause a variety of oral health issues ranging from bad breath to tooth loss. What’s worse is the fact that smoking makes it more difficult to heal after dental procedures such as periodontal treatments, tooth extractions or oral surgery. And, smoking decreases the success rate for dental implants. Therefore, if you lose your teeth due to periodontal disease caused by smoking, the smoking will also limit your options for tooth replacement.

Perhaps the most serious effect smoking can have on your oral health is to increase your risk for oral cancer. Oral cancer is a very serious form of cancer that forms on the mouth and/or the throat. If it is not detected in its early stages and treated aggressively, this type of cancer is associated with very high rates of death.

If you are a smoker or if you use other tobacco products, it is imperative that you visit your dentist regularly so that he or she can closely monitor your oral health. Getting regular dental cleanings and checkups is vitally important to your long-term dental health and to increasing your chances of keeping your teeth for as long as possible.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Hye Park, Green Dental of Alexandria