Smoking, whether it be cigarette, cigar or pipe, is the leading cause of premature death in the province of Ontario with 13 500 deaths each year. Susceptible tissues are anywhere that smoke comes in contact with- cheeks, tongue, lungs, esophagus and stomach.
Smoking can cause:
– Bad breath, called halitosis
– Yellowing internal discolouration of teeth
– Brown external staining of teeth
– Altered sense of taste and smell
– Shifting teeth
– Mouth sores
– Dry mouth contributing to heavier plaque and tartar accumulation
– Increased susceptibility to gum disease
– Premature tooth loss
– Inflammation of the oral salivary glands
– Delayed healing process following a tooth extraction or gum surgery
– Increased bone loss around teeth
– A lower success rate of dental implants
– Increased risk of developing oral cancer
Smoking and Gum Disease
Smoking causes an increased risk of developing gum disease. This is due to the adverse effect of smoke on the way gum tissue cells behave. Also, tobacco reduces blood flow to the gums, which provides the necessary oxygen to keep them healthy. Due to lack of oxygen, the gums are left at a higher susceptibility to bacteria and infection. People who smoke are four times more likely to have gum disease than people who don’t smoke.
Smoking and Oral Cancer
Tobacco contains chemicals that initiate an abnormal change in healthy cells. These cells then begin to abnormally and uncontrollably alter and grow, leading to the formation of tumours. The most common places for tumours to develop are the tongue, lower lip and floor of the mouth. Tumours appear as red or white spots/ sores.
Benefits of Quitting
Quitting smoking is the most beneficial, sure-fire way of reducing the risk of gum disease and oral cancer. After 10-20 years without smoking, the risk of developing oral cancer, heart disease and respiratory illness decrease to the same as a non-smoker.