Smoking tobacco, whether it’s cigarettes, pipes, cigars, or vape pens, can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay, affect the lifespan of dental restorations, and more. Learning how smoking affects your smile can help you prevent any damage. Here we talk about how smoking impacts your teeth, your gums, and your dental restorations.
Bacteria: The True Culprit
To understand how smoking affects your smile, you should know that the bacteria introduced to your mouth from smoking is one of the biggest contributors to poor oral health.
The chemicals found in tobacco contain specific types of bacteria. These bacteria strains affect everything in your mouth, from your saliva to your immune response. Drier mouths encourage bacterial growth, causing increased levels of plaque, tartar, and gum disease. Smoking weakens your mouth’s immune responsiveness, making it difficult to fight infection, leaving your mouth defenseless against everyday bacteria your mouth is exposed to, as well as the bacteria that smoking introduces to your mouth.
Smoking and Your Teeth
Smoking negatively impacts the health of your teeth. Smoking tobacco in any form causes tooth discoloration, decay, and enamel damage.
- Tooth Discoloration – Once you’ve begun smoking, it won’t take long before your teeth take on a yellowish, dull appearance. Even vaping, which is considered a ‘better’ alternative to smoking, causes tooth discoloration. The more regularly you smoke, the quicker you’ll notice tooth discoloration. Regular smoking can even cause teeth to turn brown or grey. Professional teeth whitening can help remove stains from smoking tobacco.
- Tooth Enamel Health – Along with discoloration, smoking can also cause weak enamel. The acids in the smoke wear away at your enamel, causing the stains associated with tooth discoloration and enamel erosion. Chewing tobacco is notorious for damaging your enamel, as the grit in tobacco causes friction that wears away your enamel.
- Tooth Loss – Smoking increases your risk of tooth decay, which contributes to tooth loss. In fact, research has shown that smokers have higher levels of two types of bacteria linked to tooth decay compared to non-smokers. Bacteria that causes tooth decay also causes plaque and tartar build-up. The inflammation around the tooth caused by the tartar affects the bone, resulting in tooth loss.
- Cavities – Large cavities existing around your gum line can cause weak teeth and infections, leading to broken teeth down the road. You’ll need to have these broken teeth repaired and this can become pricey, sometimes even painful.
Smoking and Your Gums
Your gums are important to your overall oral health and help hold and protect your smile. As you’ve learned, if you’re a smoker or vape, you’re more likely to have tartar and bacterial plaque.
- Gingivitis – The irritation caused by plaque and tartar buildup from smoking can cause gingivitis. Once the gums of smokers become infected, they have a difficult time healing as smoking results in decreased oxygen in the bloodstream, which is related to gum health.
- Gum Disease – Smokers have slower wound healing abilities than non-smokers, meaning gingivitis can easily progress into gum disease. In fact, smokers have a three and a half times higher risk of developing gum disease than non-smokers. Gum disease from smoking can result in receding gums and even tooth loss.
Smoking and Dental Restorations
Smoking can affect the success and appearance of and lifespan of dental restorations, such as dental implants and crowns.
- Dental Restoration Health – Smokers who have gum recession caused by gingivitis or gum disease can cause uneven margins on crowns and other restorations, and can have slower healing after surgery and more infections.
- Dental Implant Failure – Research shows that smokers have a higher failure rate for dental implants than non-smokers. Experts believe that the gums around the implant being repeatedly exposed to tobacco smoke contributes to implant failure.
- Dental Restoration Appearance – Smoking can dull the appearance of your crowns, bonding, fillings, and dentures just natural teeth. While porcelain is a highly durable material used for crowns and veneers, they are not indestructible. Over time, they can be stained by tobacco smoke, and lose their bright appearance.
If you smoke, the best thing you can do for your oral health is to quit. Consider working with your doctor to join a smoking cessation program. You can also work with your dentist to learn more about how to repair and protect your gums, teeth, and dental restorations from damage caused by smoking.
Williams & Daily Dental is a family and cosmetic dentist located in North Raleigh, NC with a team of dedicated dentists enthusiastic in their commitment to their patients. We offer dental implants, Invisalign teeth straightening, in-office and home teeth whitening options, and Oral-B electric toothbrushes. Contact Williams & Daily at (919) 846-9070 for more information and to schedule an appointment today.