Smoking and Your Dental Health: What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

September 25, 2022

smokers teethTo put it bluntly, smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your dental health. The nicotine and additives in products like cigarettes and e-cigs can have disastrous effects on your teeth and gums. Smoking can lead to stained teeth, gum disease, tooth loss, and worst of all, oral cancer. If you smoke or vape and are trying to quit, these facts about how smoking affects your dental health might provide some additional motivation.

The Negative Effects Smoking Has on Your Dental Health

Stained Teeth

Even though your tooth enamel is very hard, it is also porous. Inhaling nicotine fills your mouth with particles that stain your teeth yellow and eventually turn them brown. Vaping does not stain as much as smoking, but it will still discolor your teeth.

Dry Mouth

Nicotine also inhibits saliva production, which makes your mouth very dry. This leaves it vulnerable to bacteria and creates the perfect environment for plaque to grow. Plaque buildup from dry mouth leads to tooth decay and gum disease later on.

Gum Disease

Smoking is the number one risk factor for gum disease. If you smoke, your risk of developing gum disease triples. Gum disease makes your gums pull away from your teeth, exposing their sensitive roots and creating pockets where infections can develop.

Tooth Loss

Smoking starts a chain of events that ends in early tooth loss. Dry mouth, gum disease, and tooth decay all lead up to tooth loss. People who smoke a pack of cigarettes every day will most likely lose one or two teeth for every decade they have been smoking.

Oral Cancer

Smoking greatly increases your risk of certain cancers, including oral cancer. If you smoke, your chances of developing oral cancer are 5 to 10 times higher than those of a non-smoker. Oral cancer is often deadly, so it’s important to detect it in its early stages. Because dentists are often the first to recognize the signs, smokers should never skip a dental appointment.

Is Vaping Better for Dental Health?

Unfortunately, vaping is no better for your teeth and gums than smoking. E-cigarettes trigger chronic gum inflammation, which is how gum disease starts. The nicotine in vape juice restricts blood flow to the gums and makes it difficult for them to heal. Even worse, the aldehyde released by vape juice reinforces chronic inflammation and keeps your gums from growing new, healthy tissue.

Does It Really Make a Difference If I Quit Smoking?

Quitting will significantly reduce your risk of gum disease and tooth loss. Smoking for any length of time causes permanent damage to your teeth and gums, so the sooner you quit the better! Even though some damage can’t be undone, you can help prevent further decay and significantly reduce your risk of tooth loss and gum disease when you quit.

Teeth Whitening in Littleton, Colorado

Are your teeth stained from using nicotine products? If you’re a former smoker, we can help you brighten your smile again. And, if you currently smoke we can provide resources to help you quit. We offer in-office whitening treatments as well as take-home whitening trays. We can also replace missing teeth if you’ve lost any teeth from smoking. Contact Kip Dental today to schedule an appointment.