If you are a tobacco smoker, you have probably read warning messages in cigarette packs that say 'smoking kills' or 'smoking is harmful to your health'. It is widely known that smoking is associated with fatal diseases like lung cancer and asthma. But did you know that your teeth and your oral health in general are also in danger? Damage to the teeth may not be a life-threatening condition or disease, but it will surely make your life uncomfortable. And even though treatment may help to reduce some of the damage, it can't eliminate the possibility that you will lose your teeth due to smoking; compared to nonsmokers, one study found that smokers are twice as likely to lose their teeth after going through periodontal (gum) treatment.
How Does Smoking Affect Your Teeth?
One way smoking can damage your teeth is by attacking your gums. It causes periodontal (gum) diseases which can eventually lead to loss of teeth. Smoking initiates a chain of processes that destroy the bone and the tissues that support your teeth on your jawbone. In the starting stages of the disease, you may notice that your gums are bleeding as you brush your teeth. Once the condition advances, your gums start to disintegrate; the gums pull away and leave your teeth in a painful condition. And due to lack of support, your teeth may fall out as time goes by.
The health effect that is perhaps common among smokers, though, is the staining of teeth. What happens is that smoking hinders your mouth's ability to fight off diseases and infections. This weakens your defense and a weak defense doesn't stand a chance against the bacteria that are generated by cigarettes. The bacteria grows rapidly and results in yellowing or staining of teeth.
How Can You Improve Your Oral Health?
The first step to improving your oral health is to ditch smoking. If you quit smoking for approximately ten years, your risks of contracting periodontal diseases will just be the same to those of a person who has never smoked before. You should also ditch foods that worsen staining. Soda and coffee for instance are some of the food stuff that can add to the staining caused by tobacco. Also avoid highly acidic foods as they can break down your enamel (outer surface of the tooth) and cavities. And don't forget to visit a dentist regularly for check ups. Basically, non-smokers visit dentists twice a year so your frequency should be a bit higher.