How Does Smoking Damage Your Teeth?


Smoking is linked to a number of medical conditions, and given that the oral cavity is the first part of the body which is subjected to cigarette smoke, it should come as no surprise that smoking has an adverse effect on teeth and other parts of the oral cavity. Various studies have established the link between smoking and oral health, and this write-up focuses on the same.

Tooth Discoloration:
Findings of a study carried out by International Centre for Excellence in Dentistry (University College London) and Department of Dental Public Health (Guy’s King’s & St Thomas’ Dental Institute) showed that while 15% non-smokers reported moderate to severe tooth discolouration, this figure goes up to 28% in the case of smokers. Tar and nicotine are known to cause stains on teeth, and tar deposits on smokers’ teeth are not uncommon.

Build-up of Plaque/Tartar:

Hardened dental plaque is referred to as tartar (or calculus) and smoking is a known factor that facilitates tartar accumulation. Tartar, unlike plaque, is easily visible, and its porous nature makes it susceptible to further staining. In order to remove tartar build up, a trip to the dentist is definitely required.

Periodontal Disease:
Smoking has been linked to periodontal diseases, and data shows that around 90% of refractory periodontitis sufferers are smokers. In addition, the prevalence and severity of periodontal diseases in more pronounced in existing as well as former smokers (in comparison to people who’ve never smoked). Data also shows a link between the severity of the condition and the number of cigarettes smoked.

Bone/Tissue Loss:
Findings of one study have shown that smoking has a considerable effect in relation to oral bone loss, and that it is closely associated with loss of oral tissue. This study was originally aimed at establishing the effects of ‘oral burn syndrome’ on dental implants.

Other Dental Problems:
Apart from these, smoking is also linked to other oral health problems, and these include:

  •  Bad breath
  •  Increased risk of white patches within the mouth (leukoplakia)
  •  Increased risk of contracting oral cancer
  •  Delay in the healing process when dealing with an extraction or any kind of oral surgery
  •  Problems in working with implants (smokers report of lower success rates)

Is Smoking Cigars or Pipes Any Better than Smoking Cigarettes?
Findings of a study that was carried over a period of twenty three years by the American Dental Association showed that pipe smokers face similar risks of tooth loss as compared to cigarette smokers; and that cigar smokers suffer from alveolar bone loss and tooth loss at the same rate in vis-à-vis cigarette smokers. In addition, cigar and pipe smokers face the risk of oral and throat cancers even if the smoke is not inhaled. Teeth staining, bad breath, and increased probability of contracting periodontal diseases come with smoking cigars and pipes as well.



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