smoking damageAfter a half century of educating the public about smoking, most people know the dangers that smoking poses to their long-term health. Smoking can cause significant damage in the short term as well. The smoking damage done to people’s teeth can be very noticeable, but there are other effects. Here we will talk about what exactly smoking does to your teeth and mouth.

The most obvious damage smoking does to your teeth is the discoloration. The nicotine and tar in the tobacco yellows your teeth quickly, making them look unhealthy and unattractive. It also stains your tongue and the facial hair around your mouth and causes bad breath. The teeth of lifetime smokers will frequently be brown from smoking. There are many options for whitening teeth, but smoking will undo the work and expense of whitening in short order.

Smoking damages your taste buds and dulls both your sense of smell. It often leads to gum disease because bacteria is more likely to grow in the mouths of smokers. Bacteria attacks teeth and causes cavities, but it also attacks gum tissue. Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.

The absorption of nicotine causes your body to increase output of a pituitary hormone called vasopressin. Vasopressin tightens your blood vessels which results in decreased blood flow to all your tissues and organs. Since your body needs blood flow to heal and regenerate all of its cells, smoking is bad for the health of your entire body. It’s particularly damaging to smoke when you need to have any kind of surgery done, including oral surgery like a tooth extraction or a root canal. If you smoke before or after surgery, your body will struggle to heal itself, and you will be at more risk of infection.

Smoking is also linked to cancer and not just lung cancer. Throat cancer and mouth cancer risk also increases with smoking. Using chewing tobacco and snuff products are also linked with developing oral cancer. Oral tobacco products are associated with cancer in the cheeks, gums, and inner surface of the lips. They also cause discoloration of your teeth and the other health risks listed above.

The best way to protect your oral health from the consequences of smoking is to never start the habit and to avoid the use of all tobacco products. That’s easy to say, but if you already have a tobacco habit or are a regular smoker, you will know that nicotine is very addictive and wishing you’d never started is nice but not helpful. Fortunately, there are many smoking secession programs available out there to help. Here are some tips from the CDC on quitting smoking.

If you do quit, you will see an improvement in your overall health, your oral health, and the condition of your gums. You will also be able to whiten your teeth so your smile will look beautiful again. Smoking damage is serious, but some of it can be reversed once you quit smoking for good. If you have any questions about smoking and your oral health, be sure it bring it up with your dental hygienist at your next routine appointment.