There are many vices that can make an otherwise healthy smile dull and disease prone – drinking coffee and wine can leave their mark with staining, eating a lot of acidic food can cause teeth to become sensitive, chewing on ice-cubes can result in chipping and fracturing of teeth. But nothing ruins a smile quite like smoking – as this daily habit not only takes the shine off teeth – its numerous chemicals irritate oral tissues and increase the risk of developing dental disease.
Dr. Shairoz Meghji of Apple Dental in SW Calgary is a General Dentist who stresses the importance of sharing the dangers of smoking and how it negatively impacts the health of the mouth. What is often not obvious to smokers is the intense heat that accompanies dragging on a cigarette. The heat of a cigarette dries the mucosal lining of the mouth, altering the pH balance and reducing the smoker’s resistance to bacteria and viruses. There are hundreds of chemicals in tobacco smoke – some known to be carcinogenic – and known contributors of oral cancer and mouth conditions like Periodontal Disease. Over time the exposure to these chemicals changes tissue response with a noticeable increase in gum redness, bleeding and inflammation.
Smokers also seem to have a higher incidence of Periodontal Disease – exhibited by bone loss, tooth mobility and deeper pocketing around teeth. Maintaining dental cleanings can help to slow the progression of this disease – and having your teeth cleaned on a regular basis also enables your dental provider to monitor any tissue changes and make further recommendations for treatment. Because smoking increases the risk of developing Oral Cancer – seeing your Dentist and Hygienist regularly provides regular opportunities for oral cancer screening – a vital step in early diagnosis.
And if you think it’s just your gums that are affected by smoking the reality is that smoker’s teeth often reveal the signs of tobacco consumption long before tissue damage is visible. Stained teeth, bad breath and increased plaque formation detract from a person’s smile – and can also lead to a person sucking on breath mints (which have sugar) as an attempt to hide tell-tale breath odors.
The good news is that even if you have no intention of quitting smoking anytime soon, with the help of regular dental cleanings and exams, your mouth can have a fighting chance of staying healthy.
Dr. Shairoz Meghji is a General Dentist in SW Calgary providing a full range of general dental services.