Effects of Smoking on Oral Health

We’re all very aware that cigarette smoking has a potentially disastrous effect on our health. From heart disease and cancer to emphysema, cigarette smoke is known to cause a variety of very serious and deadly diseases. Yet, the full effects of smoking on health are often overlooked; and in fact, cigarette smoking also negatively impacts your oral health. Indeed, tobacco smoking is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults.

The effects of smoking on health are well documented, and smoking tobacco can have a significant effect on the appearance and health of your mouth and gums. Just a few of the dental problems associated with smoking include:

  • Halitosis (or bad breath)
  • Staining or discolouration of the teeth
  • Inflammation of the salivary glands
  • Advanced buildup of tartar and plaque on the teeth
  • Bone loss in the jaw
  • Increased risk of mouth cancers and leukoplakia
  • Increased risk of gum disease
  • Slower healing of gum tissue
  • Increased risk of complications following tooth extraction, periodontal treatment, oral surgery, and dental implants

In addition, there are a number of serious oral and general health concerns that often result from cigarette smoking:

  • Oral and pharyngeal cancers
  • Lung cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Tooth decay
  • Premature aging
  • Sores or lesions in the mouth

There are some sobering statistics that support the negative relationship between tobacco smoking and oral health. For example, nearly 90% of patients suffering from mouth, lip, tongue, or throat cancer use tobacco products. Furthermore, continued and increased use of these tobacco products significantly increases the risk of developing these cancers. Similarly more than a third of patients who continue to smoke after remission of oral cancers will develop second cancers of the mouth, lips, tongue, and throat.

Unfortunately, even exposure to smokeless tobacco products is dangerous for your oral health. Cigars, cigarettes, snuff, and chewing tobacco are all associated with an increased risk of oral cancer, cancer of the throat and esophagus, and other aesthetic effects of tobacco consumption (e.g. stained teeth and gum disease).

Smoking and Gum Disease

Smoking cigarettes is a major contributor to gum disease, as smoking weakens the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth. Recent research suggests that smoking disturbs the normal functioning of gum tissue cells making smokers significantly more susceptible to periodontal or gum disease and infection. Moreover, smoking cigarettes prevents proper blood flow to the gums which may slow healing.

Ultimately, in order to maintain good overall health and proper oral health, dentists and doctors will always recommend quitting smoking and ceasing the consumption of smokeless tobacco products. Still, regardless of how long you have smoked or used other tobacco products, quitting will have an immediately positive impact on your health.

Good Nutrition is Essential to Good Oral Health

Oral health: is the term used to refer to the health of the mouth. It is the term used to refer to the overall hygiene of the mouth. This includes the teeth, gums and tongue. This is a very important part of the body because it can affect our communication with people. A bad oral heath can be due to poor dental hygiene but can also be caused due to various illnesses.

Whenever a patient visits a doctor, after discussing the symptoms the doctor asks the patient to stick out the tongue. Why is it so? This is because the oral condition can tell the doctor a lot about the patient’s health. A poor oral health can mean that the patient could be suffering from diabetes, HIV/AIDS or some other eating disorders. Also, poor oral health can be due to cold sores, fungal infection, canker sores, dry mouth syndrome and oral cancer.

However, sometimes the causes of a poor oral health are not any major illnesses but only poor oral hygiene. And this poor hygiene cause bad health in turn. It is like a vicious cycle.

Good nutrition not only keeps us healthy and hence reflects in our oral health, but also results in a good oral health. Following is the list of nutrients for good oral hygiene:

Vitamin A: Lack of this can cause overgrown gums, bleeding gums and other gums diseases. This is found in green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin B Complex: Lack of this vitamin can cause cracking and bleeding of lips. It can also lead to sores and lesions in the mouth which can further cause infections. This can spread to the rest of the body through blood. It can be found in whole grains and dark green vegetables.

Vitamin C: This brings in oxygen and nutrients via the capillaries and improves oral health. Lack of this can cause bleeding gums. This can be found in citrus fruits.

Calcium and Vitamin D: These help maintain healthy teeth which are strong too. The calcium and vitamin D gets absorbed in the teeth and hence gives strength to the teeth. After a certain age these two are added in prescription for daily intake. Calcium can be found in milk and bananas. Vitamin D is absorbed by exposure to sun.

Copper, Zinc, Iron, Iodine and Potassium: These are also a few minerals essential for good oral health.

Copper is found in legumes, nuts, sea food, raisins, molasses and soybeans.

Zinc is found in Brewer’s yeast, liver, soybeans, spinach, mushrooms and sunflower seeds.

Iron is found in red meat, liver, iron rich cereals, beef, whole grains, spinach, and dry fruits. Avoid intake of tea with iron as it reduces iron absorption in the body.

Iodine can be obtained from iodized salt, sea food and kelp.

Potassium is found in bananas, figs, apricot, dates, raisins and tomato juice.

Fluoride: This is found in toothpastes and when used strengthens the enamel of the teeth. This works with calcium and phosphorus and prevents tooth decay too.

Practical Tips on How to Maintain Excellent Oral Health

You can ensure good oral health when you keep your mouth and teeth clean at all times. Ideally, you should brush your teeth at least thrice daily and floss regularly to get rid of food debris. Moreover, you should visit your dentist for expert advice on how you can prevent common oral problems including gum disease, tooth decay and halitosis.

What You Can Do to Maintain Oral Health

By following a healthy lifestyle and applying these tips, you can achieve excellent oral hygiene.

1. Consult your dentist regularly

Regular visits to your dentist and professional prophylaxis are excellent ways to prevent oral problems. Your dentist will also search for signs of dental cavities and diseases, since certain oral issues may lead to serious health concerns. For instance, untreated cavities may be quite painful and cause infections. Only a dentist who has the expertise and professional training can diagnose and find the ideal treatment to all types of oral health concerns.

2. Practice proper oral hygiene

You should consider using a soft-bristle toothbrush and brush your teeth twice or thrice daily with fluoride toothpaste. This way, you can remove bacteria and plaque that cause periodontal disease and cavities. Fluoride is effective in maintaining health teeth that are free from proximal caries.

3. Eat nutritious foods and follow a well-balanced diet

Healthy food can help you maintain overall health, since certain nutrients support strong bones and teeth. You may want to consider drinking fluoridated water occasionally, as this can help maintain oral health. However, you should keep in mind that too much fluoride in your drinking water could cause damages to your teeth. It is also ideal to avoid eating sugary foods such as sweets, rich cakes, and carbonated drinks that may cause dental problems.

Foods and Drinks that You Should Avoid

Aside from brushing your teeth, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly, you should avoid certain foods and drinks that can lead to oral diseases. Individuals who drink alcohol are risk factors for throat and mouth cancers. Cigarette smoking is also detrimental to your oral health, as tobacco reduces the level of blood flow to your gums. When this occurs, your gums will not be able to receive the right amount of oxygen and nutrients that can prevent bacterial infection.

You should also avoid eating foods and other snacks that have high sugar content or starches. It is also ideal that you eat about five servings of fiber-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables that can stimulate salivary flow. This supports the re-mineralization of the surfaces of your teeth during the early phases of tooth decay.

Bottom Line

While the tooth enamel is considered as a hard substance, it is still prone to damages and decay. If the condition is left untreated or undetected, bacteria will continue to go deeper into your teeth. This will lead to serious pain, swelling and abscesses. You can avoid this problem and ensure the general health of your oral cavity by visiting your doctor and obtaining the right treatment for your dental problem.