How does smoking affect oral health?

Published At: 22 January 2020 , 10:17 AM

It has long been no news that tobacco smoking causes physical and psychological dependence and is a danger to human health. Hundreds of cytotoxic chemicals released during smoking affect both the functionality and the body's immunity. In addition to nicotine (one of the most widely used drugs), cigarette smoke includes nearly 4,000 different compounds, many of which cause cancer. Over a long period of time, smoking affects all parts of the body, and the oral cavity, in particular, is at particular risk. Smokers' teeth can be recognized instantly due to the adverse effects of tobacco exposure, and an unattractive appearance is far from the only oral problem caused by tobacco use. Smoking and teeth are not a healthy combination!

Smoking and stains on the teeth

Permanent tobacco over a long period leads to a gradual darkening of tooth enamel. The high temperature of the smoke alternates with cooled inhaled air, which leads to the formation of microcracks on the enamel surface. The severity and stability of staining depend on various factors, including the frequency of tobacco smoking. To restore the aesthetic appearance of the dentition is possible only with the help of professional whitening or using ceramic veneers. It is challenging to remove smoking stains from dentures, as the plastic material of the prosthesis is also prone to pigmentation. This is especially noticeable in people who, moreover, do not care enough about oral hygiene.

Smoking and halitosis

Smoking causes persistent halitosis. The cause of unpleasant breathing is the preservation and exhalation of tobacco smoke. Nicotine, tar, and other substances contained in tobacco smoke accumulate on the teeth and soft tissues of the smoker's mouth - gums, buccal tissue, tongue. Tobacco use negatively affects the composition of saliva, violates its pH, which provokes oral dysbiosis and can also cause the formation of fetid odor. Also, smoking dehydrates the tissues of the oral cavity, which weakens the moisturizing and disinfecting effect of saliva. Pipe and cigar lovers have more lousy breath than cigarette smokers because cigar tobacco contains more sulfur. Breath-refreshing toothpaste, mouthwashes, and chewing gums help mask smell; however, it is a short-term solution to the problem.

Smoking and gum disease

Tobacco use promotes the development of inflammatory periodontal diseases and the deposition of tartar, which in turn increases the level of production of volatile sulfur compounds (LSS) in the oral cavity. The main harmful side effects of smoking are inflammation and infections of the gums and bones that hold the teeth in place.

Gingivitis is an inflammatory gum disease in which superficial gum tissue is affected. The nicotine content in a cigarette causes a narrowing of blood vessels, which leads to a decrease in blood flow to the gums. Also, a reduction in the immune response induced by smoking delays the body's response to toxic microbes in the oral cavity, i.e., bacteria present in plaque can do more harm. Irritating soft tissues "recede" from the teeth, exposing the neck of the tooth, not protected by enamel. In the absence of suitable treatment, gingivitis passes into periodontitis.

Periodontitis is a "neglected" form of gingivitis. This is a progressive inflammatory disease in the tissues surrounding the tooth, which can lead to irreversible destruction of the gums and bone tissue that hold the tooth. As a result of inflammatory processes, so-called pockets formed in the gums near the teeth, which can lead to bleeding of the gums, tooth mobility, and the appearance of purulent discharge. Ultimately, this leads to tooth loss, which is observed in smokers twice as often as in non-smokers.

Smoking and delayed healing

Smoking negatively affects the healing of wounds in the mouth. This is due to reduced blood supply caused by nicotine and dry mouth. Do not smoke after you have had surgery, including tooth extraction! If, however, you continue to abuse tobacco, your risk of developing alveolitis or the so-called "dry hole" is increased. After removal, a blood clot forms in the hole of the extracted tooth, protecting the bone and nerve endings. However, smoking counteracts successful healing and prevents the formation of a blood clot, leaving the bone and nerve endings vulnerable. This can lead to infection and severe pain, bad breath, and unpleasant taste.

Smoking and tooth implantation

Smoking can reduce the success of dental treatment. This applies to both natural teeth and the reconstruction of the dentition in the form of dental implants. Since nicotine contributes to vasoconstriction, the blood circulation necessary for the successful healing of postoperative wounds slows down. Delayed wound healing and an increased risk of infection make implant healing less predictable. It advised abstaining from smoking at least a few days after the implantation procedure.

Smoking and taste

One of the changes that smokers have noticed after they completely abandoned tobacco is improving their taste. It is known that smokers have a reduced sensitivity to smell and taste since the tongue covered continuously with viscous, thick mucus, which makes it difficult for food to contact the tongue, with those nerve endings that perceive taste sensations. Consequently, smokers often exaggerate with the addition of salt, sugar, and other seasonings and food. By quitting smoking, you can, to some extent, restore the lost pungency of smell and taste; however, how soon this will happen depends on how long and many people have abused tobacco.

Smoking and oral cancer

When smoking tobacco in the oral cavity, toxins are released, as well as irritating and carcinogenic chemicals that alter the mucous membrane of the tissues of the oral cavity. Hot smoke irritates and burns the mucous membrane, and chemicals suppress the formation of an enzyme - lysozyme, which disinfects the oral cavity. The mucous membrane becomes drier, the saliva lingers less on the sores, and the mucous membrane does not renew. In the absence of timely treatment, cancer of the oral mucosa may develop. Studies show that heavy smokers are six times more likely to develop oral cancer than people who do not use tobacco.