Right, let’s answer a few questions really quickly about how smoking affects your dental health.
Most people are now aware that smoking is bad for their health. However, many people don’t realise the damage that smoking does to their mouth, gums and teeth. Be aware smoking can lead to tooth staining, gum disease, tooth loss, and in more severe cases mouth cancer.
Why are my teeth stained?
One of the effects of smoking is staining on the teeth due to the nicotine and tar in the tobacco. It can make your teeth yellow in a very short time, and heavy smokers often complain that their teeth are almost brown after years of smoking. So now you know why.
How will smoking affect my gums and teeth?
People who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque, which leads to gum disease. The gums are affected because smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, so the infected gums don’t heal. Smoking causes people to have more dental plaque and gum disease to get worse more quickly than in non-smokers. And gum disease is still the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.
How is smoking linked with cancer?
Most people know that smoking can cause lung and throat cancer, but many people still don’t know that it is one of the main causes of mouth cancer too. Every year thousands of people die from mouth cancer brought on by smoking.
So what can I do?
There are several “whitening” toothpastes on the market. People who smoke may find they are more likely to have bad breath than non-smokers. Fresh-breath products such as mouthwashes may help to disguise the problem in the short term, but will not cure it.
How often should I visit my dentist, then?
It is important that you visit your dental team regularly for a normal check-up and a full mouth examination so that any other conditions can be spotted early. People who smoke are more likely to have stained teeth, and therefore may need appointments with the dental hygienist more often.
What can my dentist do for me?
Your dentist will carry out a regular examination to make sure that your teeth, gums and whole mouth are healthy. Our dental team will also examine your cheeks, tongue and throat for any signs of other conditions that may need more investigation. And that’s certainly worthwhile.
Will I need any extra treatment?
Your dentist may also refer you to a dental hygienist, for extra treatment and thorough cleaning. Extra treatment is also useful to keep a closer check on the health of your mouth. Your dental hygienist will be able to advise you on how often you should visit them, although this should usually be every three to six months.