Although smoking, vaping, and smokeless tobacco all seem completely different from one another, using any tobacco products, no matter what type, can completely ruin the health of your mouth. It causes adverse effects on your oral health as well as your general health. If you are a smoker, what smoking does is lower your immune system and it also reduces your white blood cells count. Your white blood cells are what protect your teeth from infection, it fights off bacteria and plaque. So, if you tend to be a heavy smoker, you are more susceptible to gum diseases and tooth decay, because you’re not producing enough white blood cells and it’s not fighting off the plaque and the bacteria that’s in your mouth. Here is a list of the most common problems faced by heavy smokers:
- Teeth staining
Smoking and other tobacco products can cause serious stain build-up in and on your enamel. Unfortunately, all those stain particles are hard to remove. Even getting your teeth polished professionally during your dental cleaning, won’t always lift away all the stains because most of it has soaked into the tiny pores on the teeth. Professional whitening is usually the only thing that might help and of course, after quitting smoking.
- Tooth loss
Tooth loss is usually caused by gum disease and smoking, unfortunately, covers up gum disease symptoms while also making it harder for your body to fight off oral infections. So even if your gums appear to be healthy and you’re a smoker, you could have major tissue deterioration underneath the edges of the tissue. When you smoke it covers up periodontal disease until your teeth become physically mobile or start to fall out. By then your treatments are more limited.
- Bad breath
Nobody wants to have bad breath. Not only does it make you self-conscious, but it also impacts your relationships. When you smoke, it throws off the natural oral flora that your body needs for a balanced oral environment. Maybe your mouth is dried out, you have undiagnosed gum disease going on, or just the smell of the tobacco product itself has soaked deep into the oral tissues.
Even if you brush, floss, use mouthwash, and pop breath mints all day, you still won’t be able to fully cover up the odor of the tobacco mouth.
- Oral cancer
This is the most serious oral complication. Tobacco use, whether it’s smoking or something else, causes cellular changes in tissues inside of your mouth. Between the heat, smoke, nicotine, and ingredients inside the tobacco products, it’s common to see visible changes inside of your mouth when you use tobacco products. Often early signs of precancerous tissues go completely undiagnosed.
It’s extremely important to see your dentist for routine screenings so that any pathological tissues can be biopsied as soon as possible and treated before they become life-threatening. The sad news is that most people will never self-diagnose their oral cancer until the disease has reached a late aggressive stage.
Signs of gum disease from smoking
What should you look in your mouth when trying to figure out whether smoking has negatively affected your smile or is covering up a gum infection? Start by looking at your gums. Are they nice and coral pink or are they pale looking? The color will reflect whether there is a good amount of blood flow. After all, you need healthy blood circulation to have healthy tissue.
The second is to check if your gums bleed easily. If they don’t bleed at all, there may be limited blood circulation because of the effects of smoking. For example, if you haven’t flossed your teeth in weeks, your gums will most likely bleed the next time you floss. But if you haven’t flossed in weeks and you do smoke, your u=gums probably won’t bleed at all. If this isn’t carefully evaluated by a dental professional, if you do have gingivitis or gum disease, it may go undiagnosed.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell when your gums are unhealthy if you’re a smoker. The most visible symptoms are gum recession and spaces between teeth but by that point, a significant amount of tissue damage has already occurred.
If you tend to smoke, then you need to put in all the effort to quit smoking. You should also go and see your general dentist regularly, at least more than two times a year, possibly meaning that you should go maybe four times a year or maybe once every three months. Therefore, they can keep your teeth clean and able to scale out the bacteria and the plaque that might be underneath your gums. If you leave that in there, your body will not be able to do these by itself. So, you need to go to your general dentist so that they can clean your teeth in a better manner than what you will be able to do and that is what your body and immune system will be able to do on their own.