How Does Smoking Affect Your Oral Health?: Cigarette smoking is known to cause a number of adverse effects on health, with the National Institute on Drug Abuse citing lung cancer as one of the foremost consequences.
Apart from being linked to almost 90% of all lung cancer cases, smoking is also connected to other health issues such as chronic bronchitis, pulmonary disease, and increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and aneurysms.
In line with this, smoking can also affect an individual’s physical appearance.
Outside of premature skin aging, long-term smoking is found to affect the mouth drastically.
Here, we discuss how smoking affects your oral hygiene and the different ways you can address its effects.
Table of Content
Staining and discoloration
Teeth discoloration is one of the effects of long-term smoking since cigarettes have tar that causes a yellowish or stained appearance. Now, you might be wondering, if teeth are supposed to be white anyway?
While having teeth that are not platinum white is completely normal, the discoloration brought by smoking is a more prominent yellow stain that settles deep into the enamel.
Furthermore, smoking can also alter the color of the gums and lips, making them darker in color and leading to a gaunt look because of the discoloration.
Prominent dryness and wrinkles around the mouth
In line with the previous subheading, the chemicals found in cigarettes also have negative effects on the skin.
Smoking can cause blood vessels to shrink and narrow, reducing blood flow and starving the skin of ample oxygen.
The reduced blood flow for the skin also damages the skin’s elasticity and structure, leading to dryness and wrinkles around the mouth.
The formation of wrinkles is further accelerated by the constant puckering when taking a hit from the cigarette, as it pulls at the skin and could lead to sagging around the mouth.
High risk of tooth loss
Due to the chemicals found in cigarettes, smokers are at a heightened risk of tooth and gum decay. Gum disease damages the tissues that hold the teeth in place and can cause them to loosen or fall.
Additionally, an article from US News showed that cigarettes were linked to a number of dental concerns: 33% greater risk for gum disease, a 35% higher risk for loose teeth and a 43% higher risk for losing teeth.
This not only affects your smile, but it also has lasting pain that could make it difficult to eat and talk. In some cases, these conditions can even cause halitosis.
Addressing the oral effects of smoking
Since continuous smoking only compounds the problems caused by cigarettes, the most effective means to address this is to quit the habit.
To avoid withdrawal symptoms, nicotine alternatives can help you wean off while preventing further oral issues.
One such product that can help is the nicotine pouch, as it is discreet, convenient, and free from tobacco and smoke. These come in a variety of flavors that can make the experience more pleasant. If you love a cup of joe, there are coffee nicotine pouches to get you started.
The coffee flavor is actually decaffeinated but still carries a rich and creamy flavor that has been found to curb cigarette cravings.
Additionally, this has the added benefit of replacing actual coffee, which is known to stain teeth.
Alternatively, you can try fruit nicotine lozenges for a burst of sweetness similar to most candies.
These options can help you avoid any actual sugary snacks that can worsen cessation while still satisfying your nicotine dependence and oral fixation.
Boost oral hygiene practice
While everyone should also put great emphasis on their hygiene, smokers need to look after their oral health better to address the effects cigarettes have on the teeth, gums, and mouth.
Some of the best oral hygiene practices include brushing twice a day, flossing regularly to remove plaque build-up and other bacteria between the teeth, and using antibacterial mouthwash to help remove bad breath.
You can also try using oral products with hydrogen peroxide as a home remedy for teeth whitening and to combat the discoloration caused by smoking. If long-term smoking has resulted in deep-seated staining, you can also visit a healthcare professional who can oversee medical-grade teeth whitening procedures.
Take note, though, that such procedures may not be advisable for some smokers who’ve had their teeth enamel too affected, as this can cause intense sensitivity.