What Smoking Does to Your Teeth

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North Carolina Cigarette Teeth DecayWhile the number of Americans who smoke cigarettes has steadily declined over the years, there is still a large number of people who still use tobacco products, like cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Currently, nearly 40 million American adults smoke cigarettes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

While smoking poses its own health risks, it also can negatively impact your oral health and teeth. Fortunately, thanks to Dr. Patrick Broome’s expertise and the latest in cosmetic dentistry, it is possible to improve dental health issues that can occur as a result of smoking at Charlotte Center for Cosmetic Dentistry.

How Does Smoking Affect Tooth Health?

Smoking tobacco can negatively impact the health of your teeth in many ways. One of the biggest impacts that smoking cigarettes has on dental health is it increases your risk of infection. When you smoke tobacco, your mouth’s ability to fight off infection is vastly reduced, leaving your mouth vulnerable to bacteria. The resulting bacteria can begin to cultivate, which leads to the growth of plaque.

If left untreated, this increased plaque and bacteria can lead to a whole host of damaging oral health issues including:

Discolored Teeth

North Carolina Teeth Whitening ProfessionalOne of the first signs someone is a smoker is the appearance of yellowed or stained teeth. The chemicals found in tobacco sticks to tooth enamel, which causes yellowing and staining.

Discoloration is one of the easiest things to improve in cosmetic dentistry. Innovations in advanced teeth whitening allow for a customized treatment that can restore a smoker’s bright, white smile with the use of several techniques including Zoom!, Ultradent Boost!, Day White, and MI-Paste, to name a few.

Halitosis or Bad Breath

The smell of cigarettes can definitely linger in the mouth after smoking, resulting in bad breath. Not only does the cigarette odor contribute to bad breath, but the overgrowth of bacteria leads to gum disease, decay, and chronic halitosis, which, unfortunately, can’t be improved with typical brushing or mouthwash. The good news is that gum disease and the resulting bad breath can be treated and improved with an approved oral hygiene protocol and regular cleanings and exams with your dentist. Learn more about halitosis at WebMD.com.

Gum Disease

We’ve already discussed that gum disease can contribute to bad breath, but it’s more insidious than that. If left untreated, gum disease can seriously impact overall tooth health because the gums may begin to pull away from teeth. This leads to a weakening of the entire underlying bone structure and, in its severest form, can cause periodontitis.

Periodontitis is a potentially painful condition in which the bone and tissue holding the teeth in place break down, which in turn leads to tooth or teeth loss and/or the need for extractions. Unfortunately, smoking can actually negate the effects of good oral hygiene habits like brushing, flossing, mouthwash, and tartar removal treatments, resulting in poor dental health despite a patient’s best intentions to offset the risks of smoking.

Difficult Recovery

Not only does smoking inevitably lead to more dental procedures, like tooth extraction and oral surgery, it also reduces the body’s ability to heal from these procedures. Unfortunately, smoking can also reduce positive outcomes from cosmetic procedures like dental implants.

Delayed recovery after cosmetic dental procedures puts patients at risk of further complications. While a dentist can help make dental treatments more comfortable with sedation dentistry and aid in a patient’s recovery, continued smoking can negate these measures.

Oral Cancer

One of the biggest risks associated with smoking is the possibility of developing oral cancer. As a matter of fact, smokers are six times more likely than non-smokers to develop oral cancer, with about 50,000 Americans diagnosed each year.

Oral cancer has specific symptoms to be aware of including:

  • White or red patches located in the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Numbness in the jaw
  • Pain in the ear

It is advised that if patients experience any of these symptoms, whether alone or in combination, to see a dentist in Charlotte for a formal evaluation. With oral cancer, the earlier cancer is detected, the more effective the treatment and possible outcomes.

Whether experiencing oral health issues like discolored teeth or bad breath, a dentist is able to help smokers put together a treatment plan to help improve these side effects. However, it should be noted that the best way to reduce these symptoms is to quit smoking altogether. Smoking can not only negatively impact our mouth health, but it can also play a large role in our overall health, putting smokers at risk for other health problems.

Contact the Charlotte Center for Cosmetic Dentistry

If you are a smoker interested in learning more about improving your oral health and reducing the symptoms you might be experiencing, contact Dr. Broome and his team at Charlotte Center for Cosmetic Dentistry to schedule a comprehensive consultation.

Next, read Tips for Dealing with Dental Anxiety

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