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.