Dental problems related to smoking, such as tooth discoloration, are among the common issues that we at Tarzan Dental Care have handled for a long time. Smokers are generally at a higher risk of getting dental diseases such as periodontal disease compared to non-smokers. In this blog, we will explain why smoking is bad for your teeth and how you can get in touch with our professional dental experts for assistance.
Smoking leads To Teeth Discoloration
The smoke that you inhale while smoking usually builds up and stain your teeth with time. The smoke contains tar and tobacco, which turns yellow after a short while and brown after a long time of smoking. Teeth have pores similar to the skin and can absorb nicotine and tar. The yellow discoloration occurs when nicotine mixes with oxygen since nicotine by itself is colorless. Therefore, those that take vapes can still get discolored if the content inside the vape has nicotine.
Most smokers who experience discoloration realize that their teeth get darker stains around the edges of their teeth or near the gum line. There are two reasons behind such an experience.
Tobacco Stain on the Tooth Edge
Tartar builds up at the edge of the teeth, primarily where two teeth meet. Tartar is quite porous than enamel and would absorb nicotine far much faster. Smokers who get stains on the edge of their teeth usually do not floss or consider dental cleaning to solve the problem.
Tobacco Stains Near the Gum Line
Smoking recedes the gum line, meaning that the gum starts to shrink, which exposes the teeth right from its root. The uncovered part of the teeth has a softer and more porous material known as dentin. Dentin usually stains faster compared to enamel, causing the stain near the gum line.
Smoking Leads to Bad Breath
It is pretty easy to put up with bad breath. Unfortunately, bad breath usually affects smokers, and they find it hard to do away with it. The main reason behind the bad breath is the nicotine found in cigarette smoke. Nicotine sticks to the teeth, tongue, and side of the cheek, which leads to the bad smoker's breath.
Once the chemicals stick on your mouth, they build an environment where bacteria can thrive. As a result, you will end up experiencing bad odor due to the bacteria.
Another cause of bad breath is the drying of the mouth, which results from smoking. Smoking usually stops the production of saliva, which continuously cleans the mouth while it flows. Therefore, bacteria end up build up inside the mouth, resulting in the bad odor of the breath. Smokers who experience lousy breath would likely experience a bad taste in their mouths.
Smoking Leads to Tooth Decay
The tobacco found in smoke can seriously lead to decay of the teeth. This results from the chemicals that build up in the mouth, which promotes the growth of bacteria. Tooth decay occurs when your mouth remains dry out of lack of saliva and due to poor hygiene, which most smokers tend to maintain.
The plaque bacteria break down sugar in the mouth, which eventually leads to a hole in the tooth. The plaque acid continues to eat the dentin, which ultimately turns out to be a root cavity. This results in the exposure of the nerves of the teeth, which makes one feel pain when taking something cold or hot.
Different signs and symptoms explain the possibility of tooth decay and cavities. It is easier to treat the conditions if one discovers the problem early enough. Some of the symptoms that explains the problem include:
- Pain: Toothaches are the most common types of pain experienced by anyone suffering from tooth decay
- Pressure: people with tooth decay start to experience pain whenever they are chewing or biting something.
- Pits: This includes a noticeable hole affecting the teeth. The cavity might be too small to the extent of needing to take an x-ray to spot it.
- Pus: This is a sign of a severe cavity which requires urgent attention.
Smoking Can Cause Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is also referred to as gum disease. It results from a bacteria that has built up in the mouth for quite a long time. The bacteria cause inflammation on the gum line, which progresses to affect the bone that supports the teeth. The condition usually grows from gingivitis to periodontitis and severe periodontitis.
This condition exhibits different signs and symptoms, such as:
- Receding gums
- Swollen, red, and tender bleeding gums
- Bad breath or a bad taste that is hard to do away with
- Loose teeth
- Visible pus surrounding the gums and teeth
Smoking is not directly connected with periodontal disease but results from the bacteria that rise from the nicotine and tar deposits in the mouth. For smokers who have poor hygiene, plaque forms inside the mouth, leading to bacteria growth.
Moreover, smoking usually slows gum repair, resulting in gum disease over time. Apart from smoking, other factors that can lead to gum disease include poor hygiene, genetics, medication, and hormonal changes.
Smoking Increases the Possibility of Tooth Loss
Once periodontal disease festers your mouth, the possibility of tooth loss is not far too long. This results from the gum weakness, leaving it with no enough strength to hold the teeth. Also, if your teeth start to decay, the next step that you expect is tooth loss if you do not consider visiting a dentist as soon as possible.
The signs and symptoms of a possible tooth loss must be related to tooth decay or gum disease since they are the leading cause of such an experience. Some of the common signs include:
- Toothaches when chewing or applying pressure on the affected jaw
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Swollen gum
Smoking can Cause Bone Damage
Apart from tooth decay, leaving periodontal disease to fester for too long can also lead to bone damage. Bone loss occurs when oral bones become less dense and start to fracture. Concerning periodontal disease, the causative bacteria begin to weaken the body's immune system and the bone that connects the tissue and teeth holding them in their position. As a result, teeth loosen and eventually fall if the condition is not treated early enough.
Although it might be well-documented that tooth loss results from periodontal disease, no clear indications are showing the relationship between the skeletal bone density and periodontitis. However, some studies have proven that the loss of bone mineral density leaves the jaw bone more susceptible to periodontal bacteria, which increases the risk of periodontal disease and tooth loss.
Smoking Increases the Risk of Oral Cancer
Smokers have a five to seven times greater risk of getting oral cancer compared to non-smokers. The risk is much more significant to those who drink alcohol and smoke as well. Another terrifying fact about oral cancer is that 37% of those who have been diagnosed with cancer die five years after diagnosed with the condition.
Oral cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the mouth, which leads to the formation of a tumor. The development of the tumor usually happens on the tongue, floor of the mouth, and the lower lip. For men, oral cancer often occurs at the floor of the tongue and mouth, while in women, it occurs at the gums and the tongue.
The symptoms of oral cancer include red or white spots, which may turn to open sores.
Smoking usually increases the possibility of oral cancer through the chemicals contained in tobacco. The chemicals lead to genetic changes in the mouth cells, which increases the likelihood of oral cancer. Increased use of tobacco continuously exposes the carcinogenic chemicals, which are the causative agents of oral cancer.
Smoking Increases The Risk Of Leukoplakia
Leukoplakia is a condition symbolized by white patches and lesions inside the mouth. It is different from other causes of white spots since there are chances of developing into oral cancer. If left untreated for more than 15 years, it can lead to cell carcinoma, which is a type of skin cancer.
The chances of developing cancer from this condition depend on the appearance of the abnormal cells, their shape, and their size.
There are two main types of Leukoplakia that you need to know about. They include:
This condition is characterized by white, even white patches that have a smooth, wrinkled, and ridged surface that is consistent for a long time.
Characterized by white and red irregular shaped patches that might be nodular or flat. There are additional sub-classification that are speckled, which predicts the possibility of becoming cancerous.
Symptoms Of Leukoplakia
The usual symptoms of this condition are white patches on the tongue surface, inside the cheeks, and below the tongue. There is no pain associated with the spots, but one can rub them off to remove the white traces.
Some research has indicated that some patches that appear on the underside of the tongue can be cancerous. Some of the factors that strongly suggest that the condition can become cancerous include:
- Increased firmness
- Red or white masses that have a pebbled appearance
Smoking Delays Healing After A Tooth Extraction
The condition when your tooth takes a long time to heal after an extraction is referred to as a dry socket. Its scientific name is alveolar osteitis and is quite painful. A dry socket occurs when the blood fails to clot after tooth extraction. Also, it is characterized by dislodging or dissolving of blood before the wound heals completely.
Normally, blood should clot after a tooth extraction, which serves as the protection of the underlying bone and nerve endings inside the socket. The clot also offers a foundation where the new bone will develop and the soft tissue as well. Therefore, exposing the underlying bone and nerves can lead to intense pain, which one can feel at the side of the face as well. The socket might fill with food debris and start to get inflamed, which can result in intense pain.
Symptoms of Dry Socket
The signs and symptoms of dry socket might include:
- Partial or total loss of blood at the tooth extraction site
- Visible bone in the socket
- Bad breath that cannot get away easily
- Constant unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Severe pain within a few days after the tooth extraction
Relationship Between Smoking and Dry Socket
Based on various researches, dry smoking is common among smokers. In one study, the author suggested that the heat from burning tobacco, and it's by-products are enough contaminants that might interrupt the normal clotting process.
In another study, smoking was associated with reduced alveolar blood supply after the tooth extraction, based on the 3541 extractions performed on patients. The sockets had a poor filling of blood to those who are regular smokers, which eventually turn out to be a painful experience.
Smoking Lowers the Success Rate of Dental Implants
Based on studies, nicotine and tobacco have been found to reduce the level of blood flow. Therefore, in case you get a dental implant, there will be less blood flow to your jaw, which will reduce the rate of healing.
Typically, anyone who wants to undertake a dental implant should have healthy gums and adequate bone support. However, if you are a regular smoker, the case might be different, and dentists might be reluctant to offer the service.
Apart from the effect on tobacco and nicotine to your blood flow, inhaling smoke might burn your mouth tissues, which over time, thickens the top layer of your skin cells, creating a fibrous tissue other than more bone. The smoke can also damage the salivary glands, leading to a dry mouth, which lacks the fluid needed to wash away bacteria.
Dentists see this condition as a severe risk and are usually reluctant to conducting any implant to heavy smokers. However, there are some considerations of bone grafting to provide extra support to the weakened jawbone, but it would not guarantee a successful fix to your problem.
Controversies of E-cigarettes Over Normal Cigarettes
By now, you probably understand that tobacco is not ideal for your teeth. However, with the skyrocketing e-cigarettes, there is a lot of confusion about whether they have similar effects on the teeth, just like regular cigarettes.
Well, before you go any further, it is necessary to understand the mechanics of vaping to clarify whether it harms the teeth. Unlike regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes or vapes do not produce tobacco smoke but use an aerosol that delivers nicotine to the lungs. Many vapers have mistaken the aerosol to harmless water vapor, hence the insinuation that vaping does not affect the oral well being.
With such background information about vaping, it is clear that there are chances of having effects on the teeth despite its reduced level of nicotine. The aerosol that is present in the vaporizer has an impact on oral health, which might be close to those that result from smoking. Some of the effects include:
Some compounds found in e-cigarette liquids such as propylene glycol have been found to cause mouth dryness. Chronic mouth dryness has been associated with mouth sores, tooth decay, and bad breath.
Research has found out that exposing teeth to e-cigarette aerosol has a lot of bacteria compared to those that were not exposed to the compound. Besides that, the results indicated that there are more significant effects on the crevices and pits of the teeth. Finally, excess bacteria build-up resulted in gum disease, cavities, and tooth decay.
Based on research done in 2016, results showed that vaping could lead to an inflammatory response in the gum. If the condition is left untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease.
Recent studies have indicated that vaping aerosol can lead to DNA damage and inflammation. Therefore, cells lose the capacity to divide and grow, which can result in cell death. This condition usually plays a role in oral health issues such as:
- Tooth loss
- Bone loss
- Bad breath
- Tooth Decay
- Dry mouth
More research on the effects of vaping to the oral well being is still underway, but the few that have been done have shown the possibility of adverse risks. Therefore, it is advisable to be cautious with your vaping to reduce the chances of the risks associated with e-cigarettes.
Find a Dental Care Expert Near Me
Smoking has side effects on your teeth. However, this does not mean that everything is lost, and one cannot handle such a situation. Visiting a dentist would help you manage any complications related to your smoking and ensure that you remain safe from the adverse dental effects of smoking.
Whenever you intend to visit a dentist, you must be sure that the professional will offer excellent services and has established a remarkable reputation in the industry. We at Tarzana Dental Care are confident in providing quality dental services in Tarzana. Reach out to us today at 818-708-3232 to consult one of our dentists.