4 Jan 2020  •  Blog, Dental Health  •  3min read

The effect of smoking on your dental health

We’re just a few days into 2020, so there’s a chance that any New Year’s resolutions you made are still going strong.

But, did you know that quitting smoking is the hardest resolution to keep? A Royal Society for Public Health poll has shown that almost 60% of those who resolved to ditch the cigarettes at the start of January had started again by the end of the month.

If you’ve decided to stub it out for 2020, below are some of the effects of smoking on oral health that might provide you with that extra bit of motivation you may need to stay smoke-free:

  • Staining: Tobacco causes staining both to the surface and eventually, possibly within the tooth’s surface, which is impossible to remove fully without dental intervention and has an impact on the appearance of the teeth.
  • Dry mouth:  Smoking increases dry mouth (xerostomia). This can increase plaque build-up and therefore increase the risk of dental decay and gum disease
  • Bad breath (halitosis): This is due to dry mouth and smoking odours.
  • Gum disease: Smoking impairs the blood flow to the soft tissues (gums) in the mouth which reduces the risk of bleeding – this can mask one of the most important indicators for gum disease – bleeding gums. This may lead to undetected gum disease with no obvious symptoms to you as a patient. With reduced blood supply also comes the accelerated effects of bacterial plaque on the surrounding tissues speeding up bone loss and irreversible damage to the supporting bone around the teeth, which can lead to tooth mobility and eventually tooth loss. Reduced blood flow leads to poor healing too.
  • Oral cancer: The number of adult smokers is reducing – currently 15% of adults smoke in the UK (Cancer Research UK). Research suggests that more than 60% of mouth and oropharyngeal cancers in the UK are caused by smoking. It is important to be aware of the risks of smoking and regularly visit the dentist for oral cancer checks.
  • Diminished taste: Smoking can affect the shape of the taste buds affecting them doing their job dulling taste and making food less palatable

Smoking can be a tough habit to break, but the positive impact on your dental – and general – health means it is worth the effort.

As a smoker, it is always worth speaking to your dentist if you have any concerns about the effect it may have had on your dental health.

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