We all know that smoking is bad for our health, but it’s especially damaging to your smile in addition to increasing your risk for heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer, among a variety of other health problems. When you smoke, several things are happening inside your mouth that could eventually lead to tooth loss! Let’s take a closer look at what exactly is happening to your smile when you smoke.
Appearances Aren’t Just About Looks
We all want to have beautiful smiles, and smoking is one of those things that prevents us from having them. It kills the good bacteria in your mouth, leading to chronic bad breath (not to mention that cigarette stench) and yellow teeth from the tobacco. However, these problems aren’t just related to appearances. The killing of the good bacteria that help combat inflammation and infection can lead to an array of health problems in your mouth besides bad breath. Lack of good bacteria can allow the bad bacteria to rum rampant, therefore increasing your risk for gingivitis, periodontal disease, cavities, and tooth decay to name a few.
Oral Cancer and Loss of Teeth
Smokers are more likely to develop cancers of the mouth than people who don’t smoke. And it’s not just cigarettes—cigars and chewing tobacco increase your risk just as much as smoking cigarettes. You can get cancer in your throat, mouth, lungs, esophagus, and larynx (your voice box). People who have cancer in their larynx often need to get it removed, meaning you won’t be able to speak anymore. That’s a high price to pay for smoking cigarettes!
Cigarettes also reduce blood flow to your mouth, which deprives your smile of nutrients that it needs to stay healthy. This can lead to bone loss in your teeth and jaw, leading to loose teeth and inflamed gums, as well as loss of taste and smell. Smoking also reduces the amount of saliva in your mouth, which can again lead to chronic bad breath, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria, and cavities.
Problems with Healing
Smoking introduces an array of chemicals into your body, and many of these chemicals can hinder your immune system, zap your supply of vitamin C, and reduce blood flow. What this means is that you may not be able to heal as well after oral procedures and may be more at risk for infection. For example, if you need dental implants done, your body may be more at risk to reject the implants because of your tobacco use. Other procedures can be impacted by your smoking, and your dentist will likely recommend that you quit in order to increase your chances of healing and having the best smile of your life!
Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but there are more resources now than ever to help you. Talk with your doctor or dentist about quitting smoking, and visit smokefree.gov for helpful resources, advice, and make a plan to quit. Smoking is impacting more than just your smile—don’t wait until problems start happening. Quit smoking today!