Cancer Research UK says that about 15% of adults in the UK smoke right now. Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you, but do these people know what happens to your mouth when you smoke?
Always, it is very important that you go to the dentist at least every six months. It’s even more important if you smoke, so your dentist can keep an eye on how that affects your teeth.
Let’s look at a few ways that smoking can hurt your mouth:
Some of the oral consequences of smoking are readily apparent quite quickly after initiating the habit.
- Stained teeth and tongue
- Gum discolouration
- Changes in appearance of roof of the mouth
- Bad breath
- Loss of taste and smell
As a result of heavy, prolonged smoking, a person may experience the following health problems:
Reduced Blood Flow
Gum disease can develop and be disguised by the fact that smoking lowers blood flow to the gums. Bleeding gums while eating or brushing teeth is an early indicator of gum disease and becomes less likely when blood flow is diminished. If this warning sign is absent, a smoker is three times as likely to develop gum disease than someone who does not smoke.
This restricted blood flow slows healing after dental surgery, such as dental implant placement, tooth extraction, or treatment for gum disease, extending the time it takes to go back to normal.
Reduced Saliva Flow
Saliva has a crucial role in oral health, although few individuals realise its significance. It helps keep tartar from forming and shields teeth from hazardous microorganisms. By obstructing the salivary glands, tobacco use lowers the flow of saliva within the mouth, increasing the risk of dry mouth, mouth ulcers, fungus infections, gum disease, and tooth decay. When you have dry mouth, you could experience:
- Dryness or feeling stickiness within the mouth
- Thick and stringy saliva
- Bad breath
- Difficulty chewing, speaking and swallowing
- Dry or sore throat and hoarseness
- Dry and/or grooved tongue
- Change in the sense of taste.
If you are worried about this, we suggest you talk to your dentist about it.
Increased Risk Of Mouth & Lip Cancer
If you find a lump, a patch of skin that looks different, an ulcer, or a sore on your mouth, lip, or tongue that doesn’t heal in three weeks, you should see your dentist. The slow healing could be because smoking cuts off blood flow, but it is better to get it checked out in these cases.
When you smoke, your whole body gets sick, not just your mouth. It’s important to know the risks of smoking and what you should be on the lookout for. Visit the NHS’s page about the health effects of smoking on the body for more information.