May 15, 2016 News
By Dr. NerominiFagu
We all know that smoking is bad for our health. It increases the risks for several types of cancers, respiratory diseases, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and ulcers. It can contribute to adverse pregnancy outcomes, earlier menopause in women, and sperm abnormalities and impotence in men.
Smoking also has a very negative impact on our oral health as the chemicals in cigarettes are in direct contact with our mouths and the structures within. It affects our senses of taste and smell and contributes to many oral health problems.
More than 4,000 chemicals pass through a smoker’s oral cavity every time he or she lights up. Smoking contributes to bad breath by drying out your mouth leading to gum infection, and even sinus irritation resulting in post-nasal drip. The most immediate way that cigarettes cause bad breath is by leaving smoke particles in the throat and lungs. This effect is typical of nearly any tobacco product that involves inhaling smoke or rolling it around in your mouth.
The smell of a freshly smoked cigarette can linger in the lungs for hours, hence the stale scent associated with a smoker’s breath.
From a somewhat broader perspective, tobacco causes chronic bad breath by drying out the palate which is repeatedly subjected to hot gases. The frequent inhalation of the hot smoke parches the tongue and gums, leaving a dry, chemical-filmed environment where anaerobic oral bacteria can run rampant.
Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. Smokers are four times more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers, as smokers tend to produce more bacterial plaque in their mouths which put their gums under attack. The chemicals in cigarettes may restrict the blood flow to the gum tissues, thus limiting the nutrients necessary for bone and periodontal support of the teeth.
Because of the lower levels of oxygen in your blood, you will also have slower healing times when your gums become infected, and recovery will take longer.
Staining and Tooth Discolouration
There are two substances in tobacco that cause the teeth to become stained: tarandnicotine. Our tooth enamel contains microscopic pores, and when you smoke some of the tar and nicotine are drawn into the mouth and settles into these pores. Tar is naturally dark and nicotine is actually colourless but when it is combined with oxygen molecules it becomes yellowish.
Over time, as tar and nicotine continue to build up in the pores, it causes discolouration of the teeth. The resulting stains usually appear yellowish or brownish and generally affect the enamel layer of the teeth.
Tooth Loss and Post Extraction Healing
Smokers are twice more likely to suffer tooth loss from dental decay than non-smokers. You are also at a greater risk of developing dry socket from tooth extraction procedures. This is mainly because of the disruption of the blood clot at the extraction site due to the constant suction in the mouth when smoking. When dry socket occurs, you experience severe pain in the affected area due to the bone and nerve endings being exposed.
Quitting smoking is probably the most effective way to ensure better oral health, but for those who continue to smoke there are a few things that you should keep in mind. While everyone should get dental checkups twice a year, those who smoke should consider more frequent visits. Smokers should take extra care with brushing, flossing, and using a tongue cleaner. There are specially formulated toothpastes for smokers which are chemically stronger and better able to tackle harder to clean bacteria.
There are also mouthwashes that are made just for smokers. If you smoke you should also perform oral health self-checkups on a regular basis. You should check for long lasting sores around the face, mouth, and neck. If the sores persist after two weeks, it can be a sign of a more serious problem.
White, red, or dark patches on the inside of the mouth, under the tongue, and on the cheeks that last more than two weeks should be brought to the attention of your dentist.
Just in case you were thinking that you are okay with living with the consequences of your smoking, consider this: Second hand smoke can be just as harmful to those around you as it contains at least 50 known carcinogens and other harmful chemicals. So, next time you light up, remember it’s not only about you.
For more information contact OMNI DENTAL at 295 Quamina Street, Georgetown Tel: 227-0025, Parika Tel: 260-3133 or send emails to [email protected]
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