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  • 14 May 2021

Effects of tobacco on the mouth

Everyone knows that tobacco, in all its forms, is harmful to your health and can lead to serious problems such as cancer, lung and heart disease.  Not to mention the effects of smoking on your mouth and teeth.

The following is a list of consequences that a smoker can expect to develop depending on how much and for how long he or she smoked:

– Persistent bad breath

– Dry mouth, lack of saliva

– Plaque and tartar build-up

– Stained and/or discoloured teeth

– Periodontal disease (gums and bone) that can develop more rapidly and become more severe than periodontal disease in non-smokers

– Bone loss in the jaw

– Mobility of the teeth

– Increasing number of missing teeth

– Tooth decay

– Mouth ulcers

– Hairy and stained tongue

– Impaired sense of taste and smell

– Slower healing (injuries and oral surgery)

– Reduced chances of success of certain treatments

– Cancers of the mouth, tongue, lips and throat

 

Bad breath

The reason smokers have bad breath is that more than 4,000 chemicals circulate in the mouth every time a cigarette is smoked and some of these chemicals accumulate on the inner surfaces of the mouth.  This also leads to a dry mouth, which promotes the accumulation of dental plaque (bacteria) and can lead to gum infection.

 

Stains and staining of the teeth

Tar and nicotine leave yellow stains on the teeth that are difficult to remove with daily brushing.  These products can also seep into small cracks in the tooth enamel and permanently stain the teeth.

 

Taste and smell impairment

The sense of taste and smell of a regular smoker will be altered.  What are the consequences of this effect?  First of all, the pleasure of eating is reduced, even eliminated.  In addition, people will tend to add too much salt or sugar in an attempt to revive the taste of food.  This habit has consequences on the teeth (increased risk of tooth decay) and on health in general.  Fortunately, this effect is reversible as soon as people stop smoking.

 

Periodontal disease (gum and bone disease around the teeth)

Smoking is a significant risk factor for gum disease.  Smoking reduces the blood supply to the gums, depriving them of the oxygen and nutrients that keep them healthy.  If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to the complete destruction of the supporting tissues of the teeth and may even result in tooth loss.

 

Slower healing

Smoking interferes with healing after surgery, whether in the mouth or elsewhere in the body.  Complications following surgery are more common in smokers than in non-smokers.  Toxic substances in tobacco affect healing, bone repair and the ability to fight infection.

 

Cancer of the mouth, tongue, lips, gums and throat

Smoking or chewing tobacco can cause cancer of the mouth, tongue, lips, gums and throat.  Unfortunately, in many cases, cancer of the mouth is not discovered or diagnosed until it has reached an advanced stage.  Furthermore, the risk of developing mouth cancer is even higher in smokers who consume alcohol.  According to statistics, 37% of people diagnosed with mouth cancer will die within 5 years of diagnosis.

When a person stops smoking, the risk of mouth cancer decreases rapidly.  Ten to 20 years after quitting, the risk decreases to a level almost similar to that of a person who has never smoked.

While there are many more benefits to quitting than continuing the habit, quitting for good remains a major challenge for all smokers.  Fortunately, there are many organizations, programs, websites and tools to help you meet this challenge.

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