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How Does Smoking Affect Teeth?

How Does Smoking Affect Teeth?

Everyone knows smoking is a leading cause of brown and yellow tooth stains. But, all you have to do to restore your teeth is invest in professional teeth whitening treatments, right? 

Wrong. While professional whitening may help remove those ugly stains, the habit can cause other oral health issues, too.

At Novi Family Dentistry in Novi, Michigan, Abir Faraj, DDS, helps patients understand the very serious risks associated with smoking and tobacco use, providing each patient with the tools they need to break their habit. If you’re a smoker, here are six ways your habit could be damaging your teeth and oral health.

1. Bad breath

Considering the toxins contained in tobacco smoke, it’s no surprise that these products leave behind an unpleasant odor. But that’s just one way smoking causes bad breath. 

Smoking also interferes with saliva production, which can eventually lead to dry mouth, a chronic condition that, on its own, increases your risk of developing tooth decay. Lower levels of saliva make it harder for your mouth to refresh itself and keep bad-smelling bacteria at bay.

2. Tooth decay

Cavities happen when decay-causing bacteria are able to penetrate the tough, outer layers of teeth, infecting the softer inner layers. Your saliva contains chemicals that help deter bacteria, preventing these germs from multiplying, thus reducing your risk for developing cavities. But research shows that smoking has a direct effect on this process, altering that chemical balance and making it easier for bacterial growth to occur.

3. Gum disease 

Chronic gum disease is common among smokers. In fact, statistics suggest that about half of all cases of chronic gum disease (periodontitis) are due to smoking. That’s likely because smoking contributes to gum recession, a condition that causes your gum tissue to pull away from your teeth. 

And recession makes it easier for bacteria to reach lower levels of your teeth, which can lead to deep infections and a weakening of your tooth structure. Plus, smoking interferes with circulation that your gums need to stay healthy.

4. Tooth loss

Gum disease doesn’t “just” cause infection. It’s also a leading cause of adult tooth loss. Chronic gum disease can cause infections deep below your gums, around the tooth roots. 

Once infection sets in, this can weaken the support system for your teeth and increase the likelihood of tooth loss. At the same time, the infection could infect your jaws and cause other oral health problems.

5. Mouth sores

Mouth sores are so common among smokers, there’s even a name for them: tobacco stomatitis. These painful sores typically form on the roof of the mouth as a result of exposure to a combination of heat and chemicals contained in tobacco products. Not only are they uncomfortable, but they can quickly develop serious infections.

6. Oral cancer

About 54,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancers every year, and more than 11,000 die as a result of the disease, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society. Tobacco products contain up to 60 known cancer-causing chemicals, and if you smoke, your chances of getting oral cancer are magnified tenfold. 

Detecting oral cancer in its earliest stages can be difficult, which is another reason why routine dental checkups are so important. Each checkup includes an oral cancer screening, so Dr. Faraj can look for subtle signs that could mean cancer cells are present.

What you can do

If you want to avoid these smoking-related oral health problems, the solution is simple: Stop smoking. Of course, as pretty much every smoker knows, quitting isn’t easy. In fact, it can be really difficult. But there’s help.

Dr. Faraj offers a comprehensive smoking cessation program tailored to each patient’s unique needs and challenges, helping women and men break the smoking cycle, kick their habit, and reap the benefits of better oral health. To learn more about smoking cessation at Novi Family Dentistry, call 248-418-4542 or book an appointment online today.

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