We all know that smoking is detrimental to our health causing deadly diseases such as lung, stomach and kidney cancer, as well as being a major contributor to heart disease. Those who smoke also carry a higher risk of having a stroke, and developing stomach ulcers and it can even cause male impotence. While these health risks grab all the headlines, what is not common knowledge is the effect smoking has on your oral health.
We’ve outlined some areas which are known to be affected by smoking…
Those who smoke are more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers. This happens because smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream so infected gums do not heal. This can accelerate the effects of gum disease, which can then lead to tooth loss.
Smoking is a major contributory factor to tooth loss in the UK. As explained above, smoking can exacerbate the effects of gum disease and lead to periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease. If left untreated, the bone in your jaw may be damaged and small spaces can open up between the gum and teeth. This may then result in your teeth becoming loose and falling out.
According to the NHS, more than 93% of oropharyngeal cancers (cancer in the gullet part of the throat) are caused by smoking, and if you smoke you are six times more likely to get oral cancer than non-smokers. The odds also rise when combined with alcohol use and poor diet. However, if you stop smoking your risk of cancer begins to decrease even if you have been a heavy smoker. After 20 years smoke-free your odds of getting cancer is the same as a non-smoker.
Nicotine and tar found in all cigarettes can stain teeth yellow. This discolouration can begin shortly after starting to smoke and long-term heavy smokers often find that their teeth are almost brown. As you smoke the nicotine and tar settle into the oral cavity and seeps through microscopic openings in the enamel, resulting in yellow or brown teeth.