Smoking is detrimental for your general health but did you know that smoking is also a major contributor to oral health problems?
While smoking is well known as a cause of tooth discolouration, loss of your sense of taste, and bad breath, it also has damaging effects on the health of your teeth and gums.
Can smoking cause you to lose your teeth?
Smoking definitely increases your risk of tooth loss. Heavy smokers have more than 3 times the risk of tooth loss compared to non-smokers according to a European study conducted in 2015. However, your risk decreases to a similar level to that of non-smokers, after you have quit smoking for 10-20 years.
How does smoking affect your teeth and gums?
Smoking research has shown that cigarette smoking plays a significant role in causing tooth loss and gum damage. Nicotine from cigarette smoke reduces blood flow to your mouth and gums which leads to the development of gum disease. Gum disease is a series of related issues including gum inflammation, and loss of the bone and tissue supporting your teeth. Nicotine also weakens your immune system by making it more difficult to fight against gum disease and slows down your body’s healing process. This is a major problem for both heavy and long-term smokers. The effect is particularly prominent in smokers over the age of 65.
There is conclusive evidence that people who have never smoked have healthier teeth and gums than smokers. However, it is important to note that smokers can still improve their oral health after they stop smoking.
Smorking researchers have found that people who stopped smoking can reduce tooth loss risk over time. The risk gets less and less with time.
What is oral cancer and how to prevent it?
Oral cancer is a tumour that grows in the oral cavity, also known as oral cavity cancer. Researchers have found that using alcohol and cigarettes increases the chance of developing oral cancer by as much as 38 times. Other factors such as HPV, malnutrition, UV exposure and poor oral hygiene also add to the risk.
Oral cancer is deadly because it doesn’t cause pain or noticeable problems until in the advanced stages, however, early detection is still possible. Your dentist can spot any unusual oral mucosa during a check-up. Detecting oral cancer at an early stage could very well save your life.
Stay on top of your oral health problems and do your regular 6 months dental cleaning and check-up. Remember it is always wise to be proactive about your oral health.
Smoking, Smoking Cessation, and Risk of Tooth Loss, The EPIC-Potsdam Study T. Dietrich, C. Walter, K. Oluwagbemigun, First Published August 4, 2015 Research Article
Oral Cancer: Incidence and Management. Ivan Minić* and Ana Pejčić Department of Periodontology and Oral Medicine, Medical Faculty, University of Nis, Serbia