The Effects of Smoking on Dental Health

cosmetic dentist with surgical glasses

We all know about the negative effects of smoking on our health, but few people may realize its impact on the teeth and gums. Besides deeply stained, yellow teeth, smokers are also more prone to periodontal disease and eventual tooth loss.

Kicking the habit is the most effective way to ensure better oral health, but for those who can’t, Suffolk County cosmetic dentists Dr. Nick & Dr. Elliot offer a few tips to help avoid more serious complications.

Smoking and oral health problems

Since smoking weakens the body’s immune system, it becomes harder to fight off infections, even in their early stages. Gum disease doesn’t develop overnight, and can be thwarted with regular dental check-ups and cleanings, which are recommended at least once every six months. If these visits are skipped too often, built up plaque and tartar lead to gum inflammation as bacteria begins to infiltrate the soft tissues. Over time, this can lead to advanced gum disease, which is the leading cause of tooth loss.

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, smokers are twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers. In fact, one study discovered that males who smoked a pack a day lost an average of 2.9 teeth after ten years, compared to non-smokers who lost an average of 1.3 teeth after a decade.

It is thought that smoking restricts normal blood flow to the gum tissues and bones, thus impairing wound healing and creating an unhealthy environment.

Smoking is associated with a slew of cosmetic and dental health issues, including:

  • Discolored teeth
  • Increased risk of gingivitis and gum disease
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Heightened risk for leukoplakia, which are thickened white patches on gums
  • Increased risk for developing cancer of the mouth and throat
  • Impaired healing after dental procedures
  • Lower success rates after receiving dental implants
  • Accelerated bone loss within the jaw

The American Cancer Society offers some sobering statistics about tobacco use and oral cancer. Roughly 90 percent of individuals with cancer of the tongue, lips, throat and mouth are smokers or use other tobacco products. In fact, the organization cautions that smokers are six times more likely to develop oral cancer than those who don’t smoke.

Recovering from oral surgeries and procedures such as tooth extractions, treatments for periodontal disease and dental implants is much harder for smokers – yet another reason to see the dentist at least twice a year, to ensure problems are caught early.

Long Island cosmetic dentists

The team at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry offers a number of treatments for fixing stained and missing teeth caused by smoking, and can remedy the damaging effects of periodontal disease. Laser tooth whitening is an excellent option for mild discoloration, while porcelain veneers may be more appropriate for those with severely stained or misshapen teeth.

Depending on the health of your jaw and gum tissues, you may also be a candidate for dental implants, which give an instant smile makeover and can be performed in one day here in our Rocky Point office.

To find out more about how we can help you, or to schedule a free consultation, please contact Dr. Elliot and Dr. Nick by calling 631.296.0602.

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Ava Lawson

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