Smoking & Your Smile

Posted on Apr 25, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you’re a smoker, you don’t need one more lecture, especially one from a Periodontist. I’m sure you’ve heard so many reasons to quit smoking that they’re starting to run out of your ears. However, allow me a couple of minutes to provide a better picture of what I can see in your mouth that you probably can’t.Quit-Smoking

When it comes to your smile, smokers have a greater risk of periodontal (gum) disease, more frequent bad breath, higher plaque levels, stained teeth, and slower healing following extractions, gum treatment and oral surgery.

Smoking has a drying effect on oral tissues. This creates an environment for oral bacteria to thrive and reproduce. Initially, gum disease causes persistent bad breath, sore gums and gums that bleed easily when brushing. As it progresses, gums turn darker in color and pus pockets form at the base of teeth. Eventually, teeth will loosen as oral bacteria attack supporting bone and tissues surrounding tooth roots. It’s no surprise that gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Maybe losing teeth doesn’t sound so awful. It is. While it was once assumed that tooth loss was a ‘normal’ part of the aging process, today we know better. Studies have shown that people who wear dentures die at an age that is ten years younger than those who have natural teeth, on average.

Denture wearers also take more medications and have more gastrointestinal problems. They tend to eat out less and wear less make up. In order words, they become more reclusive, likely due to fear of embarrassing slips or chewing discomfort.

The tobacco in each cigarette contains chemicals that are harmful to the body. On average, smokers decrease life expectancy by 10–15 years. Smoking is attributed to nearly one-third of all cancer diseases and deaths.

For pregnant women who smoke, they have an increased risk for first-trimester spontaneous abortion, preterm births, low birth weight babies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Women who smoke are at risk for early menopause while men who smoke have a higher risk of impotency.

There is only one solution and you don’t need me to plead with you to take that step. I’m sure you’ve already had close friends or relatives do that. However, should you decide you’re ready, you’ll be pleased to know that the positive effects are almost immediate.

In 48 hours, damaged nerve endings will start to regrow and your sense of smell and taste begin to return to normal. In 3 days, the lungs begin to repair and breathing is easier and with fuller air intake. Within two weeks, circulation in your gums and teeth is similar to that of a non-smoker. Your heart attack risk is now also declining. In a month or so, your circulation greatly improves, walking is easier and your chronic cough is gone.

Need another incentive to quit? Your loved ones who breathe in ‘second-hand smoke’ are inhaling no less than 50 known carcinogens and other harmful chemicals. It is not uncommon for children of smoking parents to wake up with ‘smoker’s cough.’

I don’t want to lecture. I feel it is far more beneficial to an individual to provide the facts so they can proceed as they feel best. Some people who smoke are willing to accept the risks for the sake of their habit, and that’s their choice. For those who do wish to overcome the grip of this addiction, there are excellent online sources. Start with:

Consider their stop-smoking app for added support.

And good luck – for your smile and the best you can be.

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