The Relationship between Smoking and Gum Disease

It seems to be common knowledge that smoking can lead to numerous adverse health effects. If you are a smoker, you might be concerned about your heart or lung health, but you shouldn’t neglect how your bad habit could affect your mouth.

By better understanding the relationship between smoking and gum disease, you can take the proper precautions to keep your smile healthy.

Smoking and Gum Disease

Of all the oral problems that smokers can experience, gum disease is the most common. Otherwise known as periodontal disease, this condition occurs when plaque builds up and targets the tissue that forms the gums, jawbone, periodontal ligament, and cementum. When these structures of the mouth are compromised, the result is often tooth loss. Since there are so many dangerous chemicals found in cigarette smoke, smokers are at a significantly higher risk of developing gum disease and eventual tooth loss.

Smoking will weaken your body’s ability to fight infection, making it more difficult for you to fight off infection. If you are a smoker, this can mean a variety of things:

  • The more frequently that you smoke, the greater your risk for developing gum disease will be.
  • Smokers have twice the risk for developing gum disease than nonsmokers.
  • Gum disease treatments might not work as well for smokers as it would for nonsmokers.

You should also remember that there is no “safe” form of tobacco. Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco will all raise your risk of developing gum disease.

Other Oral Problems Caused by Smoking

The gums aren’t the only oral problem that can develop with smoking. Smokers are at a considerably higher risk than nonsmokers to develop a condition known as leukoplakia, which can lead to oral, throat, and lung cancers. Smoking can lead to inflammation of the salivary glands that can contribute to bone structure deterioration, and smokers will have a more difficult time recovering from dental procedures like extractions or dental implants. When an extraction is performed, smokers are more likely of dealing with dry socket due to exposure of the nerve endings and bone.

The appearance of your smile can also be negatively impacted by smoking. Smoking tends to stain the teeth and may result in bad breath. In some situations, smokers may develop a black, hairy tongue due to growth that results from tobacco use. You might also lose your sense of smell and taste.

Caring for Your Mouth as a Smoker

Obviously, the most effective way to ensure improved oral health is to quit smoking, but should you choose to continue smoking, there are some important tips that you can follow. First, you should be sure to take your oral hygiene routine seriously by brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash regularly. You should also be sure to invest in the right toothbrush to target your areas of concern. The bristles on your toothbrush should be strong and stiff enough to be able to handle the most stubborn of stains left behind by the tar in tobacco.

You should also invest in oral hygiene products that are specially made for smokers. There are certain toothpastes intended for smokers, as they can be chemically stronger than regular store brands. These toothpastes can also tackle difficult to clean bacteria, and using mouthwash can help to reduce the bacteria count while also combating the bad breath that often accompanies smoking.

Given the numerous complications and risks of smoking on your oral health, it is crucial that you maintain your regular dental checkup schedule. Be sure to visit your dentist at least twice per year, although depending on your oral health status, your dentist may recommend that you come in more frequently. During your visits, your dentist will help to look for signs that gum disease or oral cancer are developing, allowing you to catch and deal with issues while they are still treatable.

Please contact us if you have any questions about smoking and gum disease’s effect on your oral health.