Tobacco and Dental Health: How smoking can affect your life

Tobacco and Dental Health: How smoking can affect your life
February 23rd, 2016 | Blog | 2 Comments

Tobacco is terrible for your health; empirical research has shown time and again that smokers have a higher chance of developing health related issues, including cancer. I want to talk a little about the side-effects of being a smoker and how it may affect your dental health even if it isn´t immediately obvious.

Tobacco and aesthetic

Tobacco smoke has been positively correlated with tooth discoloration, tartar and plaque buildup as well as leukoplakia (white patches inside the mouth). It also causes halitosis (bad breath), which one might not be aware of until someone else tells us.

While most of these problems can be easily treated with good dental hygiene and regular dental visits, they will probably resurface if the patient keeps smoking. How frequent these problems are depends heavily on how much tobacco the patient consumes and how careful they are with their hygiene.

Tobacco and tooth loss

Unfortunately, aesthetical problems are the least of a patient´s worries if they are smokers. Tobacco is also related to gum disease, bone loss, as well as bacterial infections. Any of these conditions, if untreated, will eventually lead to tooth loss.

What´s worse is that a patient may develop some of these conditions even if they are very careful about their oral hygiene; the only way to be absolutely safe is to stop smoking completely.

The good news is that with regular dental check-ups, the dentists is able to diagnose early onsets of periodontal disease, so the patient can be treated before things spiral out of control.

Tobacco and dental treatment

To make matters worse, smoking also raises the chance of complications with dental treatments, since tobacco smoke impairs the regular blood flow to the gums, it slows down the healing process, and so a smoker needs more time to heal from dental interventions.

Just to complicate things further, scientific research has shown that smokers have a lower success rate on dental implants and other invasive methods; at the very least, a patient should not smoke for a few months before and after a medical procedure, but it would be preferable if the patient dropped the habit altogether.

Last, but not least, cigarette smoke is also directly correlated to oral and throat cancer, so, it´s also endangering the patient´s life; perhaps the biggest issue is that a patient can have cancer and not be aware of it until it´s too late. A good dentist will always check for symptoms on dental visits, remember that an early diagnosis dramatically increases the chance of putting a stop to such a terrible disease.