How Does Smoking Affect Your Teeth?

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
May 14, 2019

A man lighting a cigarette

You’ve seen the various ads warning you about the adverse health effects of smoking—some of them are pretty disturbing, aren’t they? And you likely already know that smoking can do damage to your teeth and gums. But what, exactly, are smokers teeth, anyway? What will smoking do to your pearly whites and your gums if you don’t quit the addiction?

Smoking Takes a Major Toll on Your Gums

Smoking doesn’t only give you bad breath. In fact, bad breath is a small side effect compared to the serious effects of this unhealthy habit.

First off, when you smoke, your immune system is weakened. How does this affect your mouth, specifically? Well, it becomes more challenging for your body to fight infections in your gums. Your gums become increasingly more damaged every time you smoke, and they become less and less capable of healing as well.

What are some of the symptoms of gum disease? They include pain when you chew, as well as gums that are red, tender, swollen, or bleeding. You might notice that your gums are beginning to pull away from your teeth, too. And teeth typically become sensitive or loose as gum disease progresses. Yikes!

Your risk of developing gum disease only increases the more you smoke. In fact, your risk for this oral health problem doubles when you smoke. And, if you do develop it, the usual treatments that would work for other patients might not be as effective on you because of your smoking addiction. So, the sooner you quit, the better it’ll be for your gum health.

Side note: No, e-cigarettes aren’t any better arguably!

Your Teeth Suffer, Too!

Smoking stains teeth—hence, the term, “smokers teeth.” So, if you smoke, you might find yourself splurging on over-the-counter whitening treatments or asking your dentist for a professional whitening session. Basically, your chompers can become pretty unsightly, with yellow stains that may develop more quickly than you might expect. And the more you smoke, the darker the stains. Over time, your white teeth will turn into an unattractive shade of dark yellow or brown. Yuck!

As if the stains weren’t bad enough, smoking does even more to further damage your teeth: it can boost the risk of tooth decay through a rise in the buildup of plaque and tartar. And when your dentist fills your teeth, the smoking will continue to discolor your once pearly whites, as well as the fillings themselves, so even restorative treatments might leave you disappointed with the results.

Speaking of fillings—composite fillings, in particular—smoking won’t only stain them; it will also cause them to wear out before they should. So if you want your composite fillings to continue looking good, and you want them to last as long as possible, quitting smoking is the way to go.

Remember when we mentioned above that smoking reduces the strength of your immune system? This also means that, if you have to undergo oral surgery or a dental procedure like a tooth extraction, your mouth will take longer to heal. And if you need to get a dental implant to replace a lost or damaged tooth, the success rate might also be lower for you if you’re a smoker.

This Is Super Serious: Smoking Increases Your Risk of Oral Cancer!

When you smoke, you aren’t just doing harm to your teeth and gums; you’re also harming your entire mouth, increasing your risk of oral cancer. If that isn’t frightening, we don’t know what is.

To put things in perspective, and to illustrate the severity of a smoking addiction: the risk of developing cancer in the mouth, tongue, throat, and lips is six times higher compared to people who don’t smoke. Wow! It’s clear that the effects of smoking extend far beyond stained teeth and swollen gums.

Need Extra Advice? Have a Chat with Your Dentist!

If you’re a smoker, your dentist can point out the damage that your habit is doing to your mouth. Beyond that, however, you can also ask your dentist for advice on how to quit. Perhaps talking to a dental pro and learning about the risks to your teeth and gums will give you the motivation that you need to take your first step towards quitting this addiction for good.

Although you might immediately think of “smokers teeth” as the negative effect on the appearance of your chompers, smoking does much more damage than you might realize at first. From being one of the main causes of tooth loss among adults, to contributing to the risk of mouth cancer, there’s no denying that smoking is a nasty habit that’s worth quitting.  


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