Smoking Effect on Teeth: how are cigarettes affecting to your teeth?

The smoking effect on teeth can be detrimental for your smile in many ways. Your teeth tend to shows the first signs of damage of smoking on your body. Smoking affects the appearance of your smile and brings down your confidence. The most common repercussions of smoking on teeth include yellow teeth, gum recession, periodontitis, gingivitis, etc. 

With smoking, oral health tends to decline faster than normal because of carcinogenic substances such as Tobacco. Here are the immediate and long term effects of smoking one can face:

What happens to teeth when you smoke?

Smoking is lethal for general health as well as disastrous for oral health. The effects manifest in various ways that affect the appearance of your smile. According to a study, use of tobacco causes nearly 9 million deaths globally (almost 15% of deaths worldwide). Studies also suggest oral cancer is quite common nowadays and one of its main causes is heavy smoking.

Following are the typical signs of smoking habits on teeth:

  • Gum Recession
  • Yellow Teeth
  • Bad Breath
  • Sensitivity
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth Loss
  • Recurring Tooth Infections
  • Loose Teeth

Gum Recession

The damaging effects of smoking tobacco usually first show on the gums. In extreme cases, the gums recede and lose their elasticity. This also means the alveolar bone is shrinking and losing volume so it doubles the risk of tooth loss. It endangers the entire structure of the tooth. It also exposes the tooth to dental carries and may create further bigger issues such as periodontal disease. The good news is that you can reverse this cycle of damage just by quitting smoking. 

Yellow teeth

The biggest downside of smoking is its effect on the physical appearance of a smile. Tobacco is one of the biggest causes of stained teeth and discoloration of teeth. A study also shows current smokers show a higher prevalence of yellow teeth and discoloration problems. Yellow teeth lead to lack of self-confidence that can also cause self-image issues. The best thing one can do is to stay away from smoking to avoid permanent damage to teeth. 

Bad Breath

A common trait among smokers is bad breath. Nicotine and tartar build-up causes the mouth to emit a bad odor, also known as Halitosis. In social settings, this is a huge red flag and people around you may avoid interacting with you. A study shows smoking increases the risk of Halitosis by causing hyposalivation. A dry mouth or hyposalivation means decreased salivary flow in the mouth. 

Sensitivity

Among other risk factors, smoking also doubles the risk of enamel erosion or enamel thinning. Enamel is a protective layer on top of teeth that protects them from toxins. Thinning of the enamel exposes the inner layer of teeth called dentin. It makes teeth sensitive to extreme temperatures and you may feel a sharp recurring pain. To avoid this, cut down on smoking habits or simply quit to improve your oral health. 

Gum disease

Smoking affects the gums the most because it comprises of soft tissue. The impact of tobacco is faster and bigger on the gum area. In extreme cases, current smokers develop severe gum diseases such as gingivitis. Bleeding and swelling of gums are classic symptoms of this disease. Moreover, smoking gives you a gummy smile that dims down the beauty of your smile. It also doubles the risk of tooth loss if you do not seek treatment for it.

Tooth loss

Smoking has a domino damaging effect on natural teeth. The bacterial build up in the mouth overtime causes many issues such as dental caries, gum diseases etc. If you smoke and avoid going to the dentist, your oral health may decline faster than you know. If dental caries and gum issues go untreated, the tooth gets weaker by the day. Delay in seeking treatment leads to tooth loss and other bigger complications. A study also suggests there is a relationship between cigarette smoking and tooth loss. It further shows smokers are at a higher risk of experiencing tooth loss. 

Recurring Tooth Infections

If you are a current smoker and neglect your oral health, you may be more prone to tooth infections. Recurring infections result from accumulation of tobacco and tar build-up on teeth. Tooth infections occur usually due to cavities or dental caries, periodontal disease or gum infections. The only way to avoid recurring infections is regular cleaning, oral hygiene and smoking cessation. 

Loose teeth

Cigarette Smoking has many adverse effects and one of them is periodontal disease that affects the gums. This gum disease over time shrinks the alveolar bone. Alveolar bone loss makes natural teeth loose. It raises the risk of losing teeth and many other serious complications and oral diseases. The earlier you seek periodontal treatment, higher are the chances of saving your teeth. 

Does smoking make a tooth infection worse?

Tooth infections get worse if you smoke because it slows down the healing process. Smoking while you heal from a tooth infection can also cause a dental abscess. An abscess is a collection of pus at the root of the tooth that creates further complications. Thus, we suggest you to stay away from smoking if you want to heal from an infection without any complications. 

Does smoking affect teeth implants?

Yes smoking can lead to implant failure, especially if you just got them. Smoking makes healing from surgical procedures difficult because it suppresses your immune system. Moreover, inhaling nicotine restricts blood flow to the surgical site that can lead to implant failure. Thus, we advise you to strictly avoid smoking for safe implant placement and post-surgery healing. In extreme cases and for heavy smokers, dentists suggest bone grafts to give a stronger grip and support to implants.

Can you vape after wisdom teeth removal?

We do not recommend it because nicotine can cause dry socket. Nicotine restricts blood flow to the surgical site and causes hypo salivation. Both can slow down the healing process. 

Thus, if you are still thinking if you can vape after wisdom teeth removal, our answer is a strict NO! Anything that can cause complications and adverse health effects during this time is worth staying away from. Heavy smokers must refrain from vaping and all sorts of tobacco products to speed up the healing process. 

What is a smokers mouth and what can you do to reverse it?

A smokers mouth refers to teeth that show signs of damage resulting from smoking. Human body is fascinating and it heals fast if you lead a healthy life.  if you want your oral health to improve and recover from the damages of smoking.  Here are simple ways through which you can reverse the damage caused by smoking:

Quit Smoking

The first and the most effective recovery tip is to quit smoking. It will improve your oral health and lowers down the risk of cancer. If you quit smoking, the risk for tooth loss also goes down. The risk ratio of every kind of oral disease and complication. 

If you are a current smoker, it is a difficult process to go cold turkey. However, nothing is impossible if you keep trying and be consistent. Apart from strong will, here are a few products current smokers can try for Nicotine Replacement Therapy:

  • Nicotine Transdermal Patches
  • Nicotine inhaler
  • Nicotine lozenges
  • Nicotine nasal sprays
  • Nicotine gum
  • Bupropion
  • Varenicline

Regular dental check-ups

The next important step of recovering from effects of smoking is dental visits for regular check-ups and oral examinations. Dental cleaning helps get rid of the tar build-up on teeth after smoking. Only a dentist can clean the debris that reaches deep within the corners of teeth during your dental visit. 

During the cleaning process, dentists scale and polish the teeth to get rid of the layer of bacteria that forms on top of teeth. Look for a qualified and experienced dental hygienist to perform this procedure.

Dentists also check for dental caries, gum disease and other oral issues during the check up. They recommended treatments for the existing problems to improve your oral hygiene and health. 

Whitening treatments

Stains and discoloration are the most apparent effects of smoking on teeth. Sometime simple cleaning is not effective against the deep set stains. Professional in-office whitening treatments help improve discoloration and staining. Professional whitening treatments give an instant uplift to your smile and you can smile confidently again. 

Healthy Lifestyle

Your lifestyle plays a crucial role if you want to recover from the damaging effects of smoking. Tobacco products are detrimental not only bad for your teeth but also for your general health. A healthy lifestyle means eating healthy foods and working out at least 3 days in a week. If you stick to a healthy lifestyle, you can do wonders for your entire body as well as your teeth. 

Consistent oral hygiene

Making sure you clean and take care of your teeth is also integral for recovery if you are a current smoker. All it takes is a simple but consistent oral hygiene routine. The routine must include brushing for 2 mins at least, flossing and rinsing after every meal. Consistency is key if you want to see a positive change in your oral health. A thorough oral hygiene routine everyday lowers down every risk factor that leads to oral problems. 

If I stop smoking will my gums repair?

We cannot say that you will completely heal from the damage but you may see improvement. Your gums are repairable if you stick to a healthy lifestyle, avoid sugary foods and visit your dentist regularly. Extreme situations such as gingivitis or infected gums require clinical treatment. Thus, it is better to seek help from your dentist if you are a current smoker and looking to reverse the damage. 

What effect does smoking Marijuana have on teeth?

Marijuana contains certain irritants that can irritate the gums and cause many serious gum diseases. In extreme situations, marijuana smokers can suffer from gingivitis, bleeding gums, sensitivity, marginal bone loss etc. Marijuana can also discolor the gums and form white or grey marks. Thus, persistent use of marijuana can create many temporary and permanent issues. 

What is a smoker’s tongue and how to get rid of it?

Long term smokers can develop a condition called Black Hairy Tongue in which dead cells accumulate on the tongue. The main cause for this is tobacco usage through cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products that infect the tongue. It gives a dark appearance to the tongue and gives bad breath as well. Tongue scrapers and a consistent oral hygiene is necessary to keep this condition at bay. 

How often should you brush if you smoke?

Having a consistent oral hygiene routine is important even if you don’t smoke. However, if you are a current smoker, it is crucial to be more vigilant about your oral hygiene. For current smokers, brushing at least 2 to 3 times in a day for at least 2 minutes is mandatory. Moreover, you should be flossing after brushing and rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash. Another habit that can help you get rid of bacterial build-up is a tongue scraper. It helps get rid of any tobacco or tar particles from settling on your tongue and gives you fresher breath. 

Is nicotine gum bad for you?

Nicotine gum is often prescribed in Nicotine Replacement Therapy to reduce cigarette cravings. As per Advanced Center Treatment Centers, avoid using nicotine gums without doctor’s advice. They may cause short term side effects such as bloating, indigestion, sleep deprivation. Thus, it is always better to check with your doctor before consuming such products.

Can a dentist tell if you smoke?

Yes it is easy for a dentist to tell if you are a current smoker due to certain evident signs. The most prominent signs are yellow teeth, discolored gums, bad breath etc. Dentists see many patients in a day and it is easy for them to differentiate between a smoker and a non-smoker. 

REFERENCES:

Chaffee, B. W., Couch, E. T., Vora, M. V., & Holliday, R. S. (2021). Oral and periodontal implications of tobacco and nicotine products. Periodontology 200087(1), 241–253. https://doi.org/10.1111/prd.12395

Alkhatib, M. N., Holt, R. D., & Bedi, R. (2005). Smoking and tooth discolouration: findings from a national cross-sectional study. BMC public health5, 27. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-5-27

Mai, X., Wactawski-Wende, J., Hovey, K. M., LaMonte, M. J., Chen, C., Tezal, M., & Genco, R. J. (2013). Associations between smoking and tooth loss according to the reason for tooth loss: the Buffalo OsteoPerio Study. Journal of the American Dental Association (1939)144(3), 252–265. https://doi.org/10.14219/jada.archive.2013.0112

 

 

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