There are hundreds of reasons to stop smoking. However, there are 32 reasons, in particular, to stop if you care about the appearance and health of your smile. Of course, we’re talking about your teeth. Unfortunately, smoking effects can be brutal for your teeth and oral health. While getting stained teeth from smoking may seem like a minor cosmetic inconvenience, the truth is that smoking stains on your teeth are just the tip of the iceberg. Take a look at six ways smoking affects your teeth.
#1: Smoking Teeth Damage Creates Excess Plaque and Tartar
Yes, smoking does contribute to a dirtier mouth because the chemicals in tobacco products alter the natural saliva flow. These salivary changes can make it much easier for bacteria to stick around to form plaque all over the teeth and gums.
#2: Smoking Teeth Damage Includes Gum Disease
Smokers have twice the risk for gum disease compared with nonsmokers. What’s more, treatments don’t work as effectively on smokers. Gum disease is an infection of the gums that can eventually degrade the bone structure that supports your teeth. Many people with unmanaged gum disease lose teeth. You might have gum disease if you experience the following:
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Gums that are pulling away from the teeth
Anyone can develop gum disease simply by allowing plaque and bacteria to get under the gums. However, smokers are at increased risk for gum disease because smoking weakens the body’s immune system. A weakened immune system makes it more difficult for the body to fight off a gum infection. As a result, gum disease can progress more quickly. There’s also the fact mentioned above that smoking alters saliva flow to increase your likelihood of developing plaque buildup in the first place.
#3: Bad Teeth from Smoking Also Mean Bad Breath
Smoker’s breath is a real thing. It’s caused by the scent of cigarette smoke pooling in your throat and lungs in a way that can make other people feel like they are “talking to a chimney.” In addition, the chemicals in tobacco products can interact with your saliva to create an offensive odor in your mouth.
#4: Smoking Teeth Damage Can Mean Tooth Death
Smokers are at a higher risk of losing their teeth due to the smoke’s adverse effects on blood circulation. Reduced circulation is especially dangerous for oral health because a lack of blood supply to the teeth and gums can essentially starve your teeth of the nutrients they need to stay healthy and strong. As a result, long-term smoking often leads to tooth loss.
#5: Wisdom Teeth Removal Risks from Smoking Are Serious
Smokers are at a disadvantage when healing after tooth extractions, dental implants, cosmetic enhancements, or treatments for gum disease. The fact that smoking suppresses the immune system while also interfering with blood circulation can create a perfect storm for poor healing. There’s an especially high wisdom teeth removal risk for smokers. Smoking is known to create infection risks and increase recovery time following wisdom tooth removal. In addition, smoking during wisdom tooth extraction recovery can create a suction that “pulls on the wound” to open sutures.
#6: Teeth Smoking Stains Are Brutal
Teeth are porous, which creates an opportunity for nicotine and tar to enter the tiny, permeable pores in teeth. Nicotine’s chemical reaction when it interacts with oxygen is responsible for that “smoker yellow” tooth color commonly seen in people who smoke. In addition, the hardened tartar and plaque that build up more quickly on smokers’ teeth also create yellow and brown coloring on the surface of the teeth.
While teeth whitening treatments can help undo discoloration, they should not be considered replacements for quitting. Teeth damage from smoking goes much deeper into the surface than the color of teeth.
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It’s Not Too Late to Prevent Bad Teeth from Smoking
The good news is that quitting smoking now can help keep teeth damage from progressing further, even if you have already noticed some telltale signs that your teeth are in trouble. At Loudoun Orthodontics, we know that the last thing you need is “another lecture” about quitting smoking. However, our team is passionate about helping our clients avoid teeth damage from smoking, so you can rest assured that you’ll be treated with respect and compassion if you decide to visit our office to learn about options like teeth whitening to treat stained teeth from smoking. So make sure that you schedule a complimentary consultation with us, or check out our blog!