Giving up smoking has many benefits for our teeth and gums.
Although an increasing proportion of the UK no longer smokes, there are still a significant number who do. The general health risks of smoking are well known, and include the likes of lung cancer and heart disease. These are not the only health issues that smoking can cause though, and our mouths are especially vulnerable to a number of them.
In addition to serious health issues, smoking can also have a profound effect on the appearance of our smile, as we will see.
Before we look at the health implications, it is worth noting that smoking any tobacco product will almost guarantee that your teeth will discolour. Unlike gradual natural discolouration, this can leave the teeth a very dark yellow or even brown colour. Although this can be rectified either using a teeth whitening treatment or dental veneers, stopping smoking is the best way to prevent this and will also be beneficial for your health.
Smoking and oral health
When our Teddington dentists examine a patient, we not only look for signs of decay, but other issues too. The following are just some of those that may be caused, or at least contributed to, by smoking.
Gum disease – This is very common. Smokers tend to have a dry mouth, and the lack of saliva then leads to a growth in the number of bacteria in the mouth. Whilst every one of our patients should see the hygienist at the Elmfield House Dental Practice, this is especially so for anyone who smokes.
Mouth sores and infections – Because smoking narrows the blood vessels in our gums, minor issues such as sores, that would usually heal naturally, often don’t, or take much longer. An exposed wound in the mouth may soon become infected and may need to be treated unless you look after your mouth properly.
Oral cancer – The most serious issue caused by smoking. Although not one of the better known types of cancer, oral cancer is still responsible for over a thousand deaths each year in the UK. If you think that this is a risk worth taking, we recommend taking a look at a few of the images that are available on the internet of mouth cancer survivors. Many people who survive mouth cancer, have trouble swallowing food and can often receive unsightly facial disfigurement.
The best advice we can offer patients who smoke is to seek help in stopping. A few patients have asked us about vaping as an alternative. At the moment, this does seem to be an effective way for many people to stop smoking but it is worth considering that this is a relatively new phenomena and it is possible that it may become linked to health issues once sufficient research has been carried out.
In addition to stopping smoking, making sure that your oral health is monitored by one of our Teddington based team is essential. If you would like to make an appointment at the Elmfield House Dental Practice, please call us on 020 8614 1995.