Smoking is bad for your health. You probably know that. Knowledge alone isn’t always enough to push someone to stop smoking (though there are a lot of resources available). While knowledge might not be the only thing that pushes you towards smoking cessation, the more you know about why smoking affects your health, the more ready you’ll be to take charge of your habit. Here, we’ll look at how smoking affects your teeth and gums:
Smoking affects saliva in a number of ways. Over time, smoking may decrease saliva flow. Saliva has many roles, and a decrease in saliva flow can have a number of negative consequences. For one, saliva helps dilute the amount of sugar in the mouth after you eat or drink. Sugar is a favourite food for bacteria, so low saliva flow promotes bacterial growth. Other consequences of low-flow include increased plaque and tartar, which can lead to gum infections and cavities.
The quality of your saliva also changes when you smoke; it becomes thicker and less effective at accomplishing its various roles. These include remineralizing teeth and controlling acidity in your mouth. The long and short of it? When you smoke, you interfere with your mouth’s natural cleaning process.
Smoking can decrease blood flow to your gums. Smokers who smoke less than 10 cigarettes a day are twice as likely as to develop gum disease as non-smokers; the number increases with the more cigarettes you smoke. Some of the common signs for gum disease, like bleeding gums, are undetectable in smokers because blood flow to the gums is reduced. Your ability to fight off infection is reduced when you smoke, so gum disease can get worse faster than if you weren’t smoking. In other words, you’re not only more likely to get gum disease, it’s likely to progress more quickly into something more serious.
When you smoke, it can cause your teeth to yellow; smoking also changes your breath. Compared to some of the other consequences, this can seem minor, but when you’re not satisfied with your appearance it can affect your mental health. This, in turn, can make it more difficult to take steps to improve your life – a vicious cycle.
You know smoking increases your risk of cancer. That includes all kinds of different cancer, with oral cancer being one of the most prominent risks. You are a lot more at risk of developing oral cancer if you smoke, and it can be deadly.
Here at Markham Dental, we put on many different hats. We’re a Winnipeg emergency dentist, but we’re also long-term care specialists. Should you need help with smoking cessation, don’t hesitate to talk to us. We have a number of different tools at our disposal, from information about the consequences of smoking to resources to help you stop. We care deeply about your health and safety, so don’t hesitate to give us a call for information or a consultation.