Smoking and its ill effects on dental health-Dentists in HSR layout

The ill-effects of smoking on overall health does not require any elaboration, as we are aware that it can lead to cardiovascular diseases to life threatening diseases, such as cancer. But, its effect on oral health needs to be emphasized because it is equally detrimental to the teeth as well as the oral tissues.

The negative impact relates to the use of smokeless tobacco too. Depending on socio-cultural conditions, smokeless tobacco is widely used in a number of countries of the world. There are two main types of smokeless tobacco: chewing tobacco and snus. People who use it don’t always know or use the term ‘smokeless tobacco’, so they often don’t realise that the products contain tobacco. If you aren’t sure, look on the packaging for names or ingredients.

Chewing tobacco is known as plug, loose leaf and twist. Pan masala or betel quid consists of tobacco, areca nuts and staked lime wrapped in a betel leaf. They can also contain other sweeteners and flavoring agents. Snuff is taken orally or inhaled. Dry snuff is powdered tobacco that is inhaled through the nose and moist snuff is taken orally. The patterns of use of smokeless tobacco are less documented.

Like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco is a serious risk to the oral health and to your overall health. Both contain nicotine, which is a very addictive drug. In fact, there is twice as much nicotine in smokeless tobacco as in an average cigarette.

The effect of smoking on the respiratory system is well known, its effect on oral health is listed below:

Bad breath (halitosis): The nicotine and tar in the cigarettes can stain your teeth and can increase the accumulation of plaque and tartar on your teeth.This results in discoloration of teeth and bad breath (halitosis). Fresh-breath products such as mouthwashes may help to disguise the problem in the short term, but will not cure it.

Gum disease:

When the bacteria (germs) on your teeth get under your gums, gum disease begins. A layer of plaque (film) and tartar (hardened plaque) develops, if the germs stay on your teeth for a longer period of time. This accumulation of tartar leads to early gum disease, called gingivitis.

When gingivitis progresses, the gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces. This is severe gum disease, also called periodontists. The bone and tissue that support the teeth in place can break down, and the teeth may loosen and might require extraction. Smoking can result in gingivitis and eventually periodontist.

Smoking tobacco decreases the oxygen supply in your bloodstream, leading to infected gums. Therefore, gum diseases progress faster in smokers. Smokers are also more susceptible to periodontal diseases.

Tooth loss: The supporting structure of the teeth become weaker as a result of smoking. Tartar accumulation, infected gums and poor immunity result in the loss of teeth.

Delayed healing: The reduced blood supply to the mouth and decreased oxygen supply in the bloodstream makes it impossible for any wound to repair normally. Although lost teeth can be replaced with implants, smoking interferes in the wound healing after any surgery, thus causing failure of implants.

Increased risk of oral cancer: Tobacco (cigarettes or smokeless tobacco like snuff and chewable tobacco) is known to cause 90% of oral cancers. The tobacco-users are at a higher risk of developing leukoplakia (white patches inside the mouth).

Mouth cancer can appear in different forms and can affect all parts of the mouth, tongue and lips.

Mouth cancer can appear as:

  • A painless mouth ulcer that does not heal properly.
  • A white or red patch in the mouth.
  • Unusual lumps or swellings.
  • Persistent hoarseness.

It is important to visit your dental team or doctor if these areas do not heal within three weeks. If you aren’t sure, go for a check-up anyway.

To give up tobacco, it is important thing to work out why you use it in the first place.

  • Some people use to help deal with stress and boredom. Dealing with stress in other ways might help. Taking a walk, listening to music, doing deep-breathing exercises, talking with other people or joining social groups at local community centers.
  • Some feel that their tooth or gum pain gets better by using smokeless tobacco. If you have tooth or gum problems, it is important to see your dental team for proper treatment instead of trying to deal with the pain yourself.
  • Some people use smokeless tobacco thinking that it helps with digestion after eating. If you do have stomach problems after eating, then consult with your physician. Your doctor will be able to offer counselling and treatment.


Tobacco cessation:

As nicotine is an addictive substance, when you try to stop using tobacco, your body still wants the nicotine, so you might get ‘withdrawal symptoms’. These can include headaches, tiredness, changes in mood, getting angry quickly and finding it hard to concentrate.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided five keys for quitting tobacco. These five steps are:

  1. Set a date to quit.
  2. Seek support from your friends and family, as well as your doctor, dentist, counselor, etc.
  3. When the urge to smoke comes up, behavioral distractions (such as the use of Colgate® Wisp® for on-the-go brushing) can help.
  4. Use medications as directed – both prescription and over the counter.
  5. Pre-plan to overcome setbacks and obstacles or relapses.

Visit your dentist regularly. The inside of your mouth and your tongue will be examined with the help of a small mirror. The dentist will also look at your neck and underneath your jaw. Dentists will carry out this examination as part of a routine dental check-up. Remember, your dentist can see parts of your mouth that you cannot see easily yourself.

There are special toothpastes for smokers. They contain a little more abrasive than ordinary toothpastes and they must be used with care. Your dentist may recommend that you use these toothpastes alternately with your usual toothpaste. There are several ‘whitening’ toothpastes on the market. Although they do not affect the natural colour of your teeth, they may be effective at removing staining, and therefore may improve the overall appearance of your teeth. Professional teeth cleanings will help in the removal of tartar.

Prevention is better than cure. Try and get rid of the habit by talking with your dentist and physician. They can help you in the process by advising about various Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) such as nicotine gums, patches, inhalers or lozenges. If quitting seems very difficult, at least reduce the habit. Researches have shown that cutting back cigarettes to less than half a pack a day reduced the risk of gum diseases drastically.

For more information and to schedule a check up or a cleaning session call 9008647868/080-42229797

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