Why Is Smoking So Bad For Your Teeth?

October 13, 2020

It is common knowledge that your health suffers immeasurably as a result of smoking. While the hazards of smoking are most commonly associated with the lungs, it also carries with it serious consequences for your mouth.

Because smoking is highly addictive, it is difficult (and for some people impossible) to stop. This results in long-term damage to the teeth, mouth, gums, tongue, and smile of the affected individual.

Here are some of the known consequences that long-term smoking causes to the mouth and teeth:

Discolored Teeth

Teeth that appear pearly-white turn yellow or brown if tobacco products are used regularly. Discoloration increases more quickly as the frequency of tobacco use increases. The amount a person smokes also plays a key role in the level of discoloration you will notice. Even the most basic google search will drive home this point with impossible-to-ignore photographs of the true impact of tobacco use and smoking on the color of the teeth.

Decayed Teeth

The most common issues that come to mind when it comes to smoking are issues with gums and oral cancer. However, tooth decay is one of the most widespread issues dentists report when treating long-term smokers.

The gum line is where larger cavities typically exist, which weaken teeth and cause infections. Ultimately, this leads to breaks and cracks in the teeth that require expensive and painful repairs.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is more commonly referred to as gum disease, which is a bacterial infection occurring in the mouth. If left untreated, the gums become impacted by this infection.

Bleeding in the gums is one of the first signs of periodontal disease. Other symptoms are general mouth soreness, redness in the gums and ease irritation in the region of infection. In some instances, periodontal disease may appear as receding gums.

If treated by a dentist early on, periodontal disease is able to be reversed; however, anyone who smokes or uses tobacco for a long period of time will cause the problem to become far worse.

Damage To the Bones

Once periodontal disease remains untreated, the infection next spreads into the related bone and tissue, causing them to weaken, become compromised and damaged if not addressed. At the most severe end of the spectrum, surgical intervention may be required where the bone has become most severely damaged. These types of cases require surgery and bone grafts, which can be extremely expensive, not to mention painful.

Tooth Loss

The next step once the periodontal disease has taken hold is tooth loss. The reason for this is because once the gums weaken, they are less capable of holding onto teeth. Tooth extraction is sometimes required in these cases since some teeth will not simply fall out on their own but may decay as a result of infection.

Irrespective of the condition of your teeth, many problems related to the use of tobacco and smoking can be addressed, reversed and stopped. Routine cleanings can properly address discoloration, as can polishing and whitening. Fillings are used to treat decay as are crowns and root canals. Periodontal disease can be managed with deep cleaning (also referred to as root planing or scaling). Dr. Marc Heiden can provide you with more information about this subject if needed.