How Bad is Tobacco for Your Teeth?
It should come as no surprise that smoking, vaping and other forms of tobacco can wreak havoc on your smile! But exactly how bad is tobacco for your teeth? What effects does it have on your oral health? And what can you do to repair your smile and kick your tobacco habit for once and all? Learn more below from Dr. E about the negative effects of smoking and tobacco on your teeth…
How Does Smoking/Tobacco Affect Oral Health?
Smoking takes an overall toll on your body’s immune system, weakening it over time. That’s why smokers are more prone to gum disease and infections. Blood flow to the gums is diminished, which is why smokers also have a harder time overcoming gum damage. Smokers are also at risk for experiencing increased plaque build-up, which accelerates gum disease and potential tooth loss. However, the most alarming data links tobacco use to a higher instance of lung, throat and mouth cancer. Smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop these cancers, which kill thousands in the U.S. every year.
Facts About Smoking and Your Smile
We’re not just blowing smoke when it comes to the dangers of tobacco and oral health! If you smoke, vape or chew, here are some sobering facts and statistics that will (hopefully!) make you think twice about feeding your tobacco habit:
- You double your risk for gum disease
- The more you smoke and the longer duration you smoke, the greater your risk for gum disease
- You are less likely to overcome gum damage or infection
- Roughly 90% of those with mouth, lip, tongue or throat cancer use tobacco, and the risk of developing these cancers increases with the amount smoked or chewed
Can The Dentist Tell If You Smoke?
We have already shared some of the major negative effects of tobacco on oral health. It’s also important to note some of the physical symptoms that your dentist (and others around you!) are likely to notice if you are a smoker or tobacco user:
- Yellow or stained teeth (this can happen in a very short time span resulting from nicotine)
- Bad breath (not cured by mouthwash)
- Increased plaque/tartar buildup
- Inflammation of salivary glands
- Prevalence of white patches inside the mouth
- Increased loss of bone within jaw
- Greater chance of tooth loss due to extreme gum disease
- Slower healing following oral surgery procedures
- Lower success rate in common dental procedures such as dental implants
- Higher diagnosis/detection rate of oral cancers
Which Type of Tobacco Is Worse For My Teeth?
Traditional Cigarettes? Vapes? Pipes? Chew or Smokeless Tobacco? Which is the worst for your teeth? In fact, they all have their cons! Studies show that pipes and cigars are just as bad for your teeth as cigarettes. Don’t be fooled by smokeless tobacco products! They contain the same chemicals that cause gum disease and contribute to oral cancers. Also, the higher levels of nicotine found in chewing tobacco make it harder to quit than cigarettes and their added sugars might enhance flavor but they also increase your risk for tooth decay. When it comes to tobacco and your teeth, there are no pros; just varying cons!
Tips to Treat Tobacco Stained Teeth
It will take more than daily brushing and flossing to tackle stubborn tobacco stains on teeth, but it is possible to improve their appearance with some of these tips:
- Choose a toothpaste with stain-fighting ingredients such as baking soda, hydrogen peroxide or activated charcoal.
- Use an at-home teeth whitening solution or have your dentist administer a professional teeth-whitening treatment
- Get in the habit of rinsing your mouth with a natural whitening agent such as lemon juice
- If whitening agents don’t do the job, your dentist can recommend a cosmetic procedure such as dental veneers to rejuvenate your smile
Tips to Help You Quit Your Tobacco Habit
A 2021 Oral Health Awareness survey found that roughly 25% of Americans cite smoking as the habit they would most like to stop when it comes to their oral health. For good reason! Research shows that smokers who reduced their smoking habit to less than half a pack a day had only three times the risk of developing gum disease compared with nonsmokers. Quitting smoking greatly reduces the risk of gum disease and other serious health issues. Here are some tips to curb tobacco cravings and kick the smoking habit:
- Use a prescription or over-the-counter nicotine gum or patch
- Try an herbal remedy such as green tea or St. John’s wort
- Explore hypnosis, acupuncture or meditation to calm cravings
- Join a support group or take a smoking cessation class in your community
If you’re a chronic tobacco chewer or smoker, don’t despair. It’s never too late to quit! With good communication (and diligence!), you and your dentists can treat the results of tobacco damage to your teeth so that you’re smiling bright again.
The Dr. E Cosmetic and Family Dentistry team is here to help you through your dental challenges by providing expert care in a compassionate environment. Contact them today to restore your smile! 480-494-2435