In this modern age, smoking has become rather common, resting comfortably somewhere among people who are absolutely repelled by the smoke, people who like hitting an occasional social blunt, and those who swear by it. In a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the 2018 status of smokers in the U.S. above 18 years of age, the concluding data uncovered a dreadful 13.7% of all adults to be current cigarette smokers. That rounds off to about 34.2 million people in the U.S. alone! Despite the common knowledge of the ill-effects of smoking, people continue to pursue this vile habit. 4Smile is here to remind all individuals about the horrid tendrils of smoking and how your mouth will have to pay the price for your mistakes.
Here are 5 of the most disastrous ways repeated use of cigarettes can affect your mouth.
It affects the way your teeth look
Staining of teeth is one of the first noticeable signs of smoking one too many cigarettes. Regular tobacco use, even if you are not a pack-per-day kind of abuser, can and will turn your pearly whites into yellow gnarly teeth. Dental stains are basically black-brown discolorations on the teeth surface that do not come off with regular toothbrushing but require extensive treatment planning and multiple appointments at the dentist to have them professionally taken care of. The more you smoke, the more quickly you may notice tooth discoloration taking its toll on your beautiful set of whites.
Nicotine in the tobacco products consists of particles that adhere to microscopic pores in the teeth enamel, building up with repeated use and effectively staining the teeth. The number of cigarettes you smoke will heavily impact the duration and extent of your tooth discoloration and extended use can affect the ease of stain removal by a dentist. For adolescents and adults who may particularly prioritize aesthetics may suffer heavy losses due to smoking.
It affects your saliva production
The chemicals in cigarettes slow down saliva production, opening up a whole can of worms. The quality of saliva in prolonged smokers may also be altered, appearing a lot thicker than the normal serous consistency. Saliva functions to protect the teeth by wiping out any stray or bad bacteria left behind after food consumption.
The low production of saliva (xerostomia), aggravated by smoking and coupled with poor oral hygiene creates an odd concoction and spells out a recipe for disaster. Hypoproduction of saliva can lead to:
- Tartar or dental calculus: Low salivary flow makes it easier for the oral anaerobic bacteria to stick to the teeth and gums. Filmy, bacteria-laden plaque soon begins to develop on the teeth and along the gum line. Upon failure to remove this layer of bacteria, it can soon harden into tartar, a substance so tough that it requires professional dental cleaning. Tartar and plaque are the building blocks of gum disease
- Bad breath or halitosis: Due to calculus deposits, you may start experiencing bad breath and an altered sense of taste.
- Tooth decay or dental caries: Saliva helps cleanse the mouth of its gunk. A slow or absent release of saliva allows more of the food remnants to linger on your teeth and cause tooth decay. In addition, large cavities that exist around the gum line can lead to infections and weakened teeth.
- Various complications: It has been indicated to lead to fungal infections like candidiasis (oral thrush), other infections like mouth sores, and the inflammation of salivary glands.
It worsens periodontitis
It is a self-limiting, aggressive infection that involves the gums and bones surrounding the teeth. It is caused by the harboring of calculus and plaque in the mouth. Periodontitis has been reported to affect twice as many smokers as it has in non-smokers. Smokers typically do not have bleeding gums due to poor blood circulation to the gums, so the gum disease may often be well masked until it is too late. People who smoke less than 10 cigarettes a day are two times more likely to develop gum disease than those who do not partake in this habit. The figure increases by two to three folds in heavy smokers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking makes a person more susceptible to gum disease as it weakens his/her immune system. A weakened immune system means that your body is unable to fight off infections that can then lead to a dental concern of a much larger magnitude. Frequent smokers have been reported to be at a higher risk of developing acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, a very painful condition of the gums characterized by rapid “rotting” of the oral tissues. Smokers also do not respond well to gum treatment so it might be better to give up that destructive habit for good!
It affects your immune system
Nicotine in the cigarettes disrupts blood circulation- slows down the blood flow making it more difficult for your body to fight off infections, which in turn results in delayed healing of open wounds especially after oral surgeries such as extractions of teeth and other cleaning procedures. Furthermore, smoking restricts the blood circulation to the gums and affects the normal function of the gum tissue. It worsens gum disease.
Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds, many of which can interfere with the immune system. Diseases tend to progress easily when the immune system is not working effectively. Diseases worsened by smoking are:
- Viral and bacterial infections like pneumonia, TB, influenza
- Periodontal or gum disease
- Bacterial meningitis; a disease that affects the protective layers of the brain and spinal cord
- Infections that occur after surgery
- Rheumatoid arthritis
It can cause oral cancer
According to various studies, as high as 80% of the total number of people who have developed oral cancer have had a history of prolonged or repeated smoking. Primarily mouth cancer, smoking is also likely to cause throat cancer. Smokers are 6 to 7 times more likely to develop oral or throat cancer than non-smokers. Eight in ten cancer patients are reported to be smokers.
The Oral Cancer Foundation reports that smoking accounts for at least 305 of all cancer deaths in the United States. Smoking can cause cancer and then prevent your body from fighting it:
- Toxic by-products in the cigarette smoke can weaken the body’s immune system, making it harder for the white blood cells to kill cancer cells. As a result, the cancer cells keep growing without any interruption and pose a massive threat to the quality of one’s life.
- Poisonous chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage or alter a cell’s DNA. When that happens, the cell begins to grow uncontrollably and creates a cancerous tumor.
“Smoking kills” – next time you see this on a pack of cigarettes, remember that it is all too true. Smoking may cost you your life. An estimated 438,000 Americans die each year from diseases caused by smoking. Smoking is responsible for more than one in five U.S. deaths. If you or anyone in your social circle smokes, please get professional help or enroll yourself in smoking cessation programs. This simple change can save your life! 4Smile helps you get in contact with dentists who can effectively help you through the journey of smoking cessation and self-improvement. Contact us today.