Although the link between cigarettes and diseases such as cancer was long suspected, it wasn’t
until the mid 1960s that warnings were finally issued and the public became aware of the
dangerous effects of cigarette smoke.
Cigarette smokers are more prone to many different illnesses. In addition to increasing your risk
for asthma, heart disease, stroke, and cancer, cigarette smokers are also more likely to have
dental health issues. Here’s how cigarette smoke can damage your smile.
Cigarette smoke affects the soft tissues of the mouth in addition to the teeth. Your gum tissue
is essential in supporting your teeth. Smoking inhibits blood circulation in the gum tissue,
meaning the teeth won’t be as healthy due to lack of blood supply and nutrients in the gums.
Smoking also means you’re more likely to get infections, such as those from gum disease,
because your immune system is impacted by the toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke. People
who smoke are not only twice as likely to get gum disease, but gum disease is harder to treat in
people who smoke because the body doesn’t respond as well to treatments as someone with a
healthy immune system.
The longer you smoke and the more you smoke, the more your smile will be impacted by oral
health problems such as gum disease.
The immune system is impacted by cigarette smoke in addition to your cells—healthy cells have
the potential to turn cancerous, meaning oral cancer is a very real risk for smokers.
Oral cancer includes cancers of the mouth, throat, and tongue. People who smoke aren’t just
affected by oral cancer. Tobacco is known to cause lung cancer, kidney cancer, stomach cancer,
and pancreatic cancer, in addition to being linked to many other diseases.
Smokers can expect to have a substantially greater risk for oral cancer than non-smokers. Most
dentists advocate for an oral cancer screening yearly for everyone, not just people who smoke.
People who smoke may be encouraged to come in more often for these screenings.
Along with increased plaque and tartar in the mouth, smoking affects the teeth as well as the
immune system and your gum tissue, which, of course, are all connected!
Since smoking can impact the gum tissue and cause infections and gum recession, teeth have
the potential to fall out. Gum tissue plays a major role in supporting teeth, and gum disease is
one of the major causes of tooth loss in older adults.
In addition, smoking causes loss of bone in your jaw, which can further inhibit the necessary
support for your teeth. Smoking cigarettes also means your body doesn’t heal as well as
someone who doesn’t smoke, so smokers typically see lower success rates with tooth
replacements such as dental implants.
If you’re a daily smoker or even just a recreational one, you’re increasing your chances for
major oral health problems. In addition to seeing your dentist every six months for a checkup,
ask your doctor or dentist about quitting. Your body and your smile will thank you!