Most people know that smoking harms health, but they may not be aware of the harmful effects of smoking on oral health. Smoking has a negative impact on almost every organ and system in the body and increases your risk of life-threatening diseases, including cancer, heart disease and strokes and can have a detrimental effect on your teeth and gums.
How does smoking affect oral health?
The most noticeable effect of smoking is the discolouration of the teeth and smokers will often have yellow or brown teeth, which look unattractive and unhealthy. Once the teeth are stained it is difficult to remove the stains and specialist oral hygiene products are not suitable for heavy staining. Dentists will usually advise people who smoke heavily to have whitening treatment, but even then the teeth will become stained again if the patient continues to smoke.
Smoking also causes halitosis (bad breath) which can make people feel self-conscious, especially in social situations. The odour of smoke is difficult to get rid of in the mouth and chewing gum only masks it for a short while, rather than making the odour disappear completely.
One of the most detrimental and dangerous effects of smoking is the increased risk of oral cancer. Oral cancer is becoming increasingly prevalent, yet public awareness is still relatively low. Smoking and drinking alcohol regularly have been identified as risk factors for cancer and when an individual drinks and smokes, the risk is increased dramatically. Smoking also increases the risk of gum disease and slows the healing process. Gum disease, if it is left untreated, can become very serious and may even lead to the loss of teeth.
Giving up smoking
It is not easy to give up smoking due to the addictive ingredient nicotine; however, giving up will have an immediate positive effect on your health and your bank balance. There is a great deal of support available for people who want to give up and you can find out about the support on offer from your dentist or your doctor.
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