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How Smoking Affects Your Dental Health

How smoking affects your dental health

Smoking: At this point, the data is in. No matter how you slice it, smoking isn't great for you – no ifs, ands, or butts (see what we did there?).. If you are a smoker, quitting is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health and prospects for longevity. But smoking can also impact your smile in more ways than one.

Teeth staining

According to this UK study, smoking stains teeth, largely due to the proximity of nicotine and tobacco to the enamel. While you may know that this habit can turn your teeth yellow relatively quickly, few people realize that it doesn't stop there. After years, many smokers report their teeth have progressed from yellow to an even darker hue that’s closer to brown.

Heavy smokers, particularly those who regularly go through a pack every day or two, are most at risk for deep staining. If you like to flash a white smile, those over the counter strips won’t help you if you’ve gotten to this point. You’re going to need professional – and potentially expensive – help from a dentist with the latest in deep cleaning and whitening tools.

Although we can’t recommend any type of smoking. Quitting is the best for your overall health but there is some good news here for those of you who vape in lieu of smoking traditional cigarettes. A new study suggests that e-cigarettes do not stain teeth.


Gum disease

While staining is a problem, it is at least largely superficial. However, the damage from smoking doesn't stop with a yellowed smile. When you smoke, you're depriving your mouth of much needed oxidation, according to the Oral Health Foundation. This leads to an increased growth in bacteria.

These microorganisms can cause various conditions including bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. Without the oxygen, any damaged oral tissue will take longer to heal, thus prolonging discomfort and increasing the risks of a more serious infection.

If you smoke but brush and floss regularly, as well as see your dentist at least twice a year, you may avoid any serious issues. That said, smoking has the potential to make every oral problem that much worse.


Mouth cancer

Everyone knows that smoking causes lung cancer. However, smoking causes several other forms of this oft-fatal disease as well.

Smoking may lead to oral or mouth cancer, wherein the lips, tongue, throat or cheeks become infected. If diagnosed early, this form of cancer is treatable. However, if left undetected, this form of the disease can prove fatal.


What can be done?

Each year, smoking kills 480,000 people in the U.S., according to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. This number includes the roughly 41,000 who die as a result of secondhand smoke. According to the American Cancer Society, over 10,000 of those deaths are caused by oral cancer.

Smoking is a severely damaging habit. Besides the much-discussed toll it can take on your lungs and overall health, it can fill your mouth with stained teeth, diseased gums, and potentially fatal cancer. If you smoke, you owe it to yourself to absorb all the information you can on the possible fallout of this addictive substance. The Surgeon General hopes to help smokers and their families by providing an easy-to-understand guide on smoking information. 

Patches, therapies and pills also exist if you're smoking and want help quitting. Save yourself, save your mouth. 

Do you know anyone who smokes? Have you personally seen these effects before? Please feel free to share your story in the comments below.

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