We all know that using tobacco can cause serious health problems. It does not matter whether patients choose to smoke, or use smokeless tobacco products, they are still damaging your oral health, and directly impacting their teeth.
Plaque, Tartar, and Discoloration
Everyone is familiar with the concept of tobacco use causing bad breath and the development of mouth cancers. Most patients are not aware that the use of tobacco can increase the rate that plaque and tartar build up on the teeth, dramatically increasing the rate of tooth decay. This additional build up of plaque and tartar also increase the rate that teeth become discolored.
Tobacco use is also known to cause inflammation of glands that secrete saliva. These glands are located on the roof of the mouth, and at the openings of the mouth, including the throat. Decreased saliva production also increases the risk of tooth decay, because saliva has its own chemical makeup that cleanses the teeth.
Enamel, Decay, and Infection
As the enamel of teeth break down, small gaps are created around the gum line, allowing bacteria and food particles to breach the gums. It also allows infections to develop under the gum line, called abscesses.
Over time, the mixture of these effects can lead to severe tooth decay and an the deterioration of bones in the upper jaw and mandible, or the lower jaw, and the development of gum disease.
Irreversible Effects of Tobacco Use
Between the development of gum disease and the risk of infection, patients who use tobacco products face an increased risk of needing teeth extracted and of developing oral cancers. If teeth do require removal, being a smoker reduces the healing time of tooth extractions and makes healing more painful. In any case that a dental implant is required, the implant may be rejected or the patient may suffer from delayed healing time that risks rejection.
At Speaks Orthodontics, we do not recommend smoking when it comes to oral care of your overall general health.