Smoking doesn't just affect a person's lungs and respiratory system; it can also have effects on many other parts of the body, including the teeth and gums. In fact, many smokers are surprised to learn just how damaging tobacco and nicotine can be to their teeth.
What's more, the more you smoke, the worse the effects can be, and long-term smokers can suffer some very serious oral health consequences later in life. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the many negative ways in which smoking impacts a person’s teeth.
So, can smoking damage your teeth and gums? Absolutely. There are many negative effects linked with smoking, and even smoking in small amounts can lead to various dental problems. Here are some of the most common negative consequences regarding teeth and gums:
One of the most common things that smokers notice, and one of the most visible side effects of smoking for your teeth, is discoloration. Smokers often end up with teeth that appear yellowish or even brown, and even regular and repeated brushing can’t make those stains go away.
This is all due to the nicotine and tar that is present in cigarettes. It makes the teeth appear yellowish or stained, and people who smoke have almost no chance of maintaining clean, white teeth in the long-term, as the tar and nicotine seep into the enamel and are very hard to remove.
Gum disease is one of the most serious oral health conditions. It can have a range of painful and unpleasant symptoms, including swollen and bleeding gums, pain when eating, and loose teeth that may eventually fall out. Smokers are at significantly higher risk of this disease.
This is because smoking weakens the body's immune system, making it more difficult to prevent gum infections and damages. It also slows down the speed at which the body heals, and this all results in smokers being far more likely to get gum disease in its worst forms.
As explained above, smoking makes it harder for your body to heal and slows down the natural recovery processes. This is because smokers have less oxygen in their blood and consequently need more time to heal from wounds or medical procedures.
This applies to dental procedures, too. So, if you have to have a root canal, a loose or decaying tooth removed, dental implants, or some other kind of dental procedure, it’ll take longer for your mouth to heal, and this gives you a higher chance of having an infection.
Another very serious potential side effect of smoking is tooth decay and loss. There are various reasons for this, which we've already touched on; smoking makes it harder for your body to resist infections and also allows plaque to build up more easily.
Because of this, smokers’ teeth are more likely to degrade, decay, rot, and eventually fall out. This is a very serious problem, and even if you get implants to replace the lost teeth, your gums may get infected and the process itself can be painful and difficult.
This is less of a health issue than the others on the list, but smokers also often have to deal with bad breath due to their smoking habit. This usually happens due to the mouth drying out and the various odors of smoke and tar lingering around the tongue and gums.
Smoker's breath can make people feel less confident and may affect their personal relationships. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash can help to counter this problem, but it's something that won't go away fully until you stop smoking altogether.
Smoking has a lot of negative effects for oral health, but you might be wondering if vaping is the same or perhaps a little better or worse? Well, vaping doesn’t involve tobacco and vape devices like e-cigarettes don't produce smoke, so many people assume that they're better.
However, a lot of vapes still contain nicotine, in addition to various other chemicals that aren't very friendly to your teeth. They might not be quite as bad as traditional cigarettes, but e-cigs can still contribute to tooth decay, tooth stains, and gum disease.
As we can see, smoking can present a wide range of negative effects for a person’s teeth and general oral health. You can’t necessarily undo or cancel out some of the problems, like a higher risk of gum disease, but there are options available to help you get rid of the stains and discoloration caused by smoking. The following tooth whitening products and procedures may help:
Ultimately, the best way to undo some of the damages listed in this article and help your teeth become healthier, stronger, and cleaner once more is to stop smoking. Even if you've been smoking a pack a day for years, studies show that people who quit see huge positive changes, like a much lower risk of bad breath, gum disease, and teeth staining.