Dental practitioners have long been at pains to point out the potential risks smoking can have on oral health. Many people commonly associate smoking and tobacco use with medical conditions such as lung cancer, but science continues to prove significant links with numerous dental conditions that can worsen if left untreated.
One of the latest national surveys carried out in the UK has found that smoking is still quite prevalent. Around 6.9 million, or 14.1% of the population (aged 18 and older) smoke cigarettes. This group of smokers is heavily represented by the 25 to 34 age group that accounts for 19%.
It is not just smoking tobacco-based products that should be of concern. Studies conducted have also drawn conclusions that point to the danger of e-cigarette use or vaping – a habit many believe to be a more suitable alternative to the traditional cigarette.
Researchers have found that both the traditional version of cigarettes and the e-cigarette have the ability to change our oral microbiome – the community of living organisms such as bacteria and fungi that play a role in oral health. The changes both forms of smoking have on the chemistry in the mouth gives rise to a number of dental problems, some of which can have dire consequences unless treated by a professionally qualified dentist Soho.
Dental problems as a consequence of smoking
The Oral Health Foundation provides important information for patients to be aware of, particularly those who smoke. The authority body urges that while everyone should have routine dental check-ups, this becomes even more pressing for those who smoke. Patients are reminded that almost every dental disease can be stopped in its tracks when diagnosed early and treatment is sought.
Smokers are at an increased risk of experiencing a number of issues which put their oral health at a disadvantage.
Changes in oral bacteria
The change in variety of oral bacteria in the mouth increases the exposure of a patient to infections and severe disease which can be fatal (gum disease has strong links to poor coronary health, strokes and respiratory infections). The harsh oral environment created by tobacco smoke and vapours puts unwarranted stress on the mouth microbiome and reduces the levels of immune cell response chemicals that are responsible for the body’s fighting response.
This is a very common complaint raised by tobacco users in particular. Regular use of tobacco products containing nicotine and tar can, over time, result in teeth taking on a yellow appearance. It is not uncommon for those who smoke more heavily to find their teeth turning brown in colour.
Severe gum disease
Teeth depend heavily on the availability of healthy gums, without which teeth can be lost to decay. Smoking can produce bacterial plaque which very often leads to progressive forms of gum disease if no professional dental care is sought. A second contributing factor is that smoking prevents the infected gums from healing properly, as oxygen delivery to the mouth is limited
Smokers are also susceptible to developing oral cancer that in advanced stages can prove fatal. Early stages of oral cancer can be treated quite successfully which is another reason why patients should not avoid professional dental check-ups.
Patients interested in more information on the links between smoking and poor dental health should contact their dental surgery for best advice.