In the Middle East, there is a distinct smoking culture that stems from the use of the traditional Arabic pipe medwakh, along with hookah and cigarettes.
According to the sixth edition of The Tobacco Atlas, more than 900,000 adults in the Emirates use tobacco every day, of this, they are almost entirely men.
As a consumer, you’re most likely aware of how smoking affects your lungs and body, but the effects of smoking actually start in the mouth.
What Does Smoking Do To Your Teeth?
As the mouth is the first point of entry to your body, your teeth’s appearance and health are directly affected by smoking.
1. Tooth Discoloration
If you’re a regular smoker, you are giving up the possibility of having naturally white teeth. Your teeth are coated with enamel and as you age, the enamel naturally contains fine cracks. As you smoke, the nicotine and tar from a cigarette will slowly seep into these fine cracks and become permanently placed within your teeth.
Nicotine and tar cannot be brushed away and these stains are a result of more than just poor brushing habits. You will also experience a build-up of plaque and tartar due to cigarette use.
2. Tooth Loss
There are a few reasons why you have a decreased chance of preserving your natural teeth if you’re a smoker:
Delayed Healing Process:
Oxygen is necessary for the healing process in your body and since smoking reduces the oxygen in the bloodstream, it means a regular smoker will heal much more slowly and face a longer recovery time. If you experience any type of oral disease or dental conditions that require surgery, such as root canals, implants or extractions, smokers are also at a higher risk of infection.
Increased Chance of Gum Disease:
One of the most common reasons for tooth loss in adults is due to gum disease and smoking is a major contributing factor, especially in chronic smokers. Typically chronic smokers may lose their teeth and need dental implants, which requires healthy bone and gums to stabilize the implants. As the gums are not healthy it makes the dental implant procedure riskier and less successful than in non-smokers.
Progression of Gum Disease:
Gum disease all starts with a lack of oral hygiene and care. As bacteria grow in your mouth if it’s not removed on a daily basis, it builds up and will cause more severe issues later on. Smoking increases gum disease as you’re regularly introducing bacteria by smoking a cigarette. As you smoke, plaque begins to build up, bacteria continue to increase and eventually your gums will become inflamed and you may experience bleeding from your gums while you brush your teeth.
This bleeding is the start of gingivitis, and if left untreated can lead to a severe gum disease called periodontitis. Periodontitis is when the inner layer of the gum separates from the bone of the tooth. Small pockets form between the teeth and gums, and when bacteria and debris collect inside the pockets, an infection slowly forms.
Signs of Gum Disease:
If you’re a smoker, you should be aware of the signs of gum disease
- Red and swollen gums
- Excessive bleeding while brushing
- Gums pull away from teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
It’s important to watch out for these symptoms and regularly visit your dentist for routine check-ups.
3. Oral Cancer
The risk of developing oral cancer depends on the duration and frequency of tobacco use, however with prolonged use the risks greatly increase. About 80 percent of patients with oral cancers use tobacco in the form of cigarettes or chewing tobacco.
Smoking may lead to cancer in the mouth or throat, as the chemicals contained in tobacco smoke cause, initiate or promote cancer. These chemicals cause genetic changes in cells of the mouth cavity which can lead to the development of oral cancer. With oral tobacco products, they are associated with cancer in the cheeks, gums, and inner surface of the lips. This type of tobacco use increases the risk of oral cancer by exposing the mouth to these carcinogenic chemicals through direct contact while chewing tobacco products.
Early Detection of Oral Cancer:
By using the VELscope machine, dentists can detect early signs of oral cancer and is more accurate when compared to the traditional examination methods when screening for tissue abnormalities. Many dentists cannot detect oral cancer with the naked eye, but with the aid of VELscope, we can see under the tissue which helps us detect potentially dangerous growths and lesions.
Studies show that 60% of cases are diagnosed in the late stage, where the death rate for oral cancer is particularly high due to its difficulty to discover and diagnose. Oral cancers often do not cause any pain or show symptoms, signifying the importance to undergo regular check-ups.
Your New Years’ Resolution: Try to Quit Smoking
Smoking affects every single part of your body, so why not make the conscious effort to try and quit.
If you have attempted to quit in the past and have been unsuccessful, then make the commitment to at least reduce the number of cigarettes you have each day. This reduction will have a dramatic improvement in your oral health and help save your teeth.
If you plan on maintaining your own teeth for a lifetime, it’s time to stop lighting up!
At Dr. Joy Dental Clinic, we want you to have a beautiful smile. If you’re worried about your overall oral health, please Contact Us on 800-DRJOY (37569) to book a consultation with one of our Specialists.