The negative health impacts of smoking are well known: cigarette smoke has been definitively shown as a causal factor in a range of diseases and conditions including heart disease, stroke and many forms of cancer.
However, the impacts of smoking cigarettes on oral health is somewhat less publicised, despite the wealth of scientific evidence which demonstrates the detrimental impact of smoking on oral health.
As a dentist, you undoubtedly have a number of patients who smoke and your position gives you a unique opportunity, and some may even say responsibility, to educate them on the danger of smoking for their oral health.
On a more positive note, the damage is far from irreversible: once smokers quit, significant improvements are seen in both oral health and general wellbeing.
This is a useful tool in convincing patients to give up smoking and should be communicated effectively.
Impact Of Smoking On Oral Health
Smoking cigarettes has a range of adverse impacts on the mouth, gums and teeth. Smoking has been shown to be one of the main causes of mouth cancer.
Along with cancer, smoking can cause tooth staining, gum disease and tooth loss. In fact, the impact of smoking on oral health is quite staggering and therefore complete duty of care to our patients should arguably include preventing them from smoking whenever possible.
Stained teeth are very common in smokers. This is caused by the nicotine and tar in tobacco which causes teeth to turn yellow and over the long-term teeth can even turn brown.
Gum disease is another effect of smoking, due to the increased levels of bacterial plaque which are produced by smokers.
This is compounded by reduced oxygen levels in the blood (caused by damage to the respiratory system due to smoking), which means that infected gums are less likely to heal.
This can lead to teeth loosening and even falling out completely.
Smoking cigarettes attacks the body’s overall health in many ways, which can have flow-on effects for oral health. Smoking damages the immune system in the long-term as well as reducing blood oxygen levels.
This in turn contributes to gum and periodontal disease, hinders recovery after dental surgery, causes inflammation in the gums and around teeth, and irritates bones such in the jaw.
Other effects on oral health linked to smoking include bad breath, plaque and tartar build-up, tooth decay and diminished taste sensations…
Continue reading the article and learn more about smoking on Life Is An Episode website