• Does Smoking Always Lead to Gum Disease?

    Does Smoking Always Lead to Gum Disease?

    Smoking does lead to gum disease by affecting the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth, and it appears that smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells. This makes smokers more likely to suffer from infections, and there is some evidence that smoking impairs blood flow to the gums. Impaired blood flow, caused by the nicotine in tobacco smoke, will slow down the healing process of any gum infection or wound.

    Smoking has a serious effect on the mouth, the main damage being to the gums and lining of the mouth. Smokers are 5 times more likely to develop oral cancer than non-smokers and invariably suffer from some form of gum disease.

    Smoking also stains the teeth and has a profound effect on the saliva, causing the formation of the ‘mucous’ form of saliva. The nicotine causes a reduction in the acid-buffering capacity of the saliva which is why some heavy smokers suffer with tooth decay even if their dental hygiene is good.

    How Do Smokers Know if They Have Gum Disease?

    In a non-smoker, infected gums are red, puffy and bleed easily when they are brushed. But smokers’ gums are pale and thin and do not bleed easily. In the meantime, chemicals in the smoke combined with plaque bacteria continue to damage the gums and bone. Most of the deterioration is deep and out of sight. Unfortunately, there are only a few early warning signs.

    If you smoke, the chances of you getting gum disease are increased six-fold. The accumulation of plaque and calculus at the base of the tooth which leads to bacterial infection of the gums becomes difficult to treat as the body’s ability to fight the bacteria is hampered by the impaired blood flow.

    Slight infections around the edges of the gums are common and easily treated, but smoking may cause them to become more serious. Plaque and tobacco are a dangerous combination. X-rays of the jaw frequently show bone shrinking away from the roots of the teeth.

    Smokers often have reduced sensation in their mouth, and although flossing and careful brushing slows deterioration, it becomes more and more difficult to remove the plaque at gum level.

    Does Smoking Make The Teeth Loose?

    Yes. Smokers are six times more likely to have serious gum/periodontal disease, which is a deep-seated form of gum disease involving the gum and the bone and membrane holding the teeth in place. When these supports are damaged, the teeth are less stable and move easily. Ultimately they will become loose and require extraction.

    The following is an overall list of dental problems caused by smoking:

    • Bad breath
    • Tooth discolouration
    • Inflammation of the salivary gland openings on the roof of the mouth
    • Increased build up of plaque and tartar on the teeth
    • Increased loss of bone within the jaw
    • Increased risk of leukoplakia, white patches inside the mouth
    • Increased risk of developing gum disease, a leading cause of tooth loss
    • Delayed healing process following tooth extraction, periodontal treatment, or oral surgery
    • Lower success rate of dental implant procedures
    • Increased risk of developing oral cancer

    If you are still smoking, after hearing, seeing and reading everything that tells you to quit, you probably want to know if you can protect your teeth and your mouth from the effects of smoking. The answer is – no.

    However, there are a couple of thing you can do to protect your oral health:

    1. Have a regular half yearly check-up with a dentist.
    2. Give up smoking. You can maintain a healthy mouth and keep your teeth for a lifetime when you stop smoking. In just 3 -5 years after stopping smoking you can halve the chance of getting oral cancer and it gets less and less with time.

    For the sake of your teeth and the rest of your body, find a way to quit.

    Talk to your your dentist for more.

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