What Happens to Your Oral Health If You’re a Smoker?
Have you been wondering about how smoking affects your mouth? Stains on your teeth from nicotine and tar are only the beginning. Smoking has many serious side effects that impair your oral health, and the problems go much deeper than surface staining. Side effects of smoking include gum disease, tooth loss, and even mouth cancer. At Mettler & Griego Family Dentistry of Glendale, Arizona we always encourage our patients to quit smoking, and offer resources to help you quit successfully.
Smoking and Dry Mouth
Smoking affects your mouth in a number of negative ways, starting with dehydration. It is one of the leading causes of dry mouth, a condition where the mouth does not produce enough saliva. When your mouth is dry, your teeth are much more susceptible to damage. Saliva plays an important role in helping to protect your teeth and gums. It washes away food debris and fights cavity-causing bacteria. Minerals in your saliva help to strengthen and rebuild tooth enamel. Saliva even helps to prevent acid attacks from plaque. Dry mouth caused by smoking allows plaque to build up, leading to gum disease and tooth decay.
Smoking and Gum Disease
Smoking is one of the highest risk factors for gum diseases like periodontitis. People who smoke have a much higher risk of tooth decay and periodontal infections. In fact, smokers are more than twice as likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers. Exposure to tobacco smoke promotes plaque formation, which puts smokers at greater risk for oral infections and gum disease. Smoking also increases inflammation and reduces the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. This dangerous combination of inflammation and reduced blood flow makes it difficult for the gums to recover from infections or injuries. Because they can’t fully heal, the gums of smokers are even more vulnerable to deterioration and disease.
Smoking and Tooth Loss
Smoking has long been established as a high risk factor for periodontal disease and tooth loss. Gums weakened by smoking lose their ability to adhere to the teeth and jawbones. Without protection from the gums, risk for cavities and premature tooth loss greatly increases. Smoking also puts you at greater risk for conditions like dry socket following a surgical tooth extraction. Because smoking masks some of the predominant symptoms of chronic periodontitis, such as bleeding gums, it might go undetected. Unless gum disease is recognized and treated promptly, the infection will become more severe. This complication further increases risk of tooth loss in smokers.
We can help you quit! If you are a smoker, contact Mettler & Griego Family Dentistry to schedule a comprehensive periodontal examination. Our friendly dentists will assess the condition of your gum tissue and draw up a personal treatment plan. We know how smoking affects your mouth, and we have many resources to help you quit. Prevent tooth loss and gum disease from smoking—call us today at 623-487-4870.