Up In Smoke!
June 28, 2011
“A healthy smile is a smoke free smile”
The health risks of smoking are well documented, from heart disease to lung cancer; it’s a habit that you definitely need to break. The effects of smoking on your oral health are just as devastating and go way beyond the obvious signs such as bad breath and stained teeth.
Smokers are more likely to develop gum disease, the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. This nasty habit triggers the production of more bacteria in plaque, which in turn produces acid, putting teeth and gums under attack. Without the proper care tartar build up is also increased and gum disease is more likely.
Smoking also causes poor circulation and limits the oxygen supply; this means the body’s own healing process is limited. The result is gum disease that progresses far more rapidly than in a non-smoker. Bleeding is usually a tell tale sign of gum disease and a good indicator of gum health, but in a smoker, this bleeding may be lessened simply because of the poor circulation a smoker is likely to have. Without the tell-tale signs, gum disease is easy to ignore, again meaning it can progress un- checked. Without treatment, tooth loss is inevitable.
The most natural looking and long-lasting form of tooth replacement is the dental implant. However, smokers will be advised to give up their habit before undergoing treatment or the body’s ability to heal will be limited. People with implants need to care for their new teeth in the usual way, regularly brushing and daily flossing are recommended. Most people find the cost of having dental implants in the UK is very high and going overseas to places like Budapest is a cheaper option. Those who have dental implants are usually highly motivated to give up smoking, citing it as the reason they are finally able to give up their habit.
Despite the health risk, many smokers are persuaded to give up because of cosmetic reasons. Smokers will find their teeth become very stained and there’s little point in paying for expensive whitening treatment whilst you are still lighting up. So called ‘smoker’s tooth pastes’ are limited in the effect they can have on stains, only clinic based whitening treatments will erase the signs of nicotine and in the UK professional whitening doesn’t come cheap.
Looks aside, smokers should also consider the most serious side effect – oral cancer. About 90 per cent of people who develop oral cancer smoke. Visiting your dentist regularly can help as they are trained to look carefully around your mouth for signs of oral cancer and if caught early this disease has a good prognosis. Your dentist will be just as keen for you to give up smoking as your doctor so if you’re worried about the effects of smoking on your oral health do have a chat at your next appointment. There’s no doubt about it, smoking is bad for your health… and bad for your smile but it’s never too late to give up. For more information about smoking cessation visit