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Smoking and Your Teeth

Posted Dec 24 2008 3:12pm



Effects of 

l  Oral and lung

l  Peridontal disease

l  Bad breath

l  Tooth erosion

l  Poor healing

l  Dry socket 

l  Hairy tongue

l  Reduced taste

l  Smoker’s face



If you thought that smoking’s main effect was the staining of your teeth, please read on attentively. The tobacco in cigarettes, cigars, and pipes contains over  4000  harmful chemicals. The worse outcome from smoking is cancer and although  oral cancer  is not as common as lung cancer, it is nevertheless very harmful.Smokers should remember that if they are lucky enough to avoid cancer, they nevertheless will suffer from many other deleterious effects of smoking.  Periodontal disease   (gum  disease), which leads to tooth loss, is extremely common in smokers. Many treatments for this condition are unsuccessful because the poisons from the tobacco weaken the body’s immune system, thereby decreasing the healing process to the point that many surgeons will avoid extensive treatments on these individuals. Furthermore, smokers will accumulate  more  tartar thereby requiring more extensive cleanings, which are often painful since the exposed roots (caused by the gum disease) are sensitive.

Smokers should remember that if they are lucky enough to avoid cancer, they nevertheless will suffer from many other deleterious effects of smoking.

 Smokers inevitably have  bad breath  from the tobacco itself and secondarily from the gum disease. They often try to mask this with lozenges, mouth-washes, chewing gum, candies or breath mints. Over time this habit causes decay and\or  tooth erosion.
Smokers are also poor healers, this being witnessed by the high incidence of  dry-socket  infections following tooth removals. Anyone who has experienced a dry- socket will understand the frustration and suffering experienced from this practically untreatable condition.
Smoker’s palate  is a term used to describe the appearance of many smoker’s palate. The roof of the mouth typically looks pale and develops raised white bumps with red spots in the center. Although most cases of smoker’s palate are not serious, severe forms can progress to oral cancer. Often seen in smokers is a  hairy tongue  which is very unappealing. This condition is caused by an overgrowth of the tiny projections on the tongue’s surface. Germs, bacteria, and food debris usually accumulate thereby causing bad breath. Furthermore smoker’s have a significant reduction in their ability to  taste food, often compensated by an increase salting and spicing of their diet.

When an individual unfortunately smokes for many years, he or she usually develops what is called  smoker’s face.  Many physicians and dentists recognize this look from a distance. The face wrinkles prematurely around the mouth, eyes and neck, simply from the continuous act of inhaling. In addition , their skin lacks blood flow, resulting in a pale, unhealthy appearance.

In closing it is important to stress that I have only briefly covered some of the symptoms associated with smoking, as they pertain to dentistry. However it is safe to say that most, if not all dental and medical conditions are aggravated by smoking. If you are a smoker, please ask your dentist to evaluate the effect it has had on your oral cavity.


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