It's pretty clear that smoking can have a huge impact on overall health, but it's also dangerous to oral health specifically. But how exactly does cigarette smoke impact the teeth and gums?
Down to the Roots
Teeth are attached by a root, which is attached to a bone that holds the tooth in place. Did you know that smoking cigarettes affects those connections, as well as interferes with the gum tissue cells themselves? Cigarette smoke and nicotine can cause an increase in inflammation, gum disease and more serious health issues.
"Inflammation in the mouth, for instance, has been linked to inflammation in the rest of the body," said Dr. Kelley Mingus, a dentist in Bend, Oregon. "This inflammation can also be linked to heart disease, stroke and diabetes, all of which are very serious medical conditions. And it’s not just cigarettes, but cigars, chewing tobacco and vaping. You are also increasing your chances of oral cancer by using nicotine-based products."
Vaping results in your gums not receiving enough oxygen to function, killing gum tissue and further reducing your oral health. Saliva is also decreased, aggravating the health of your gum line. There’s also the immense amount of chemicals released, called cytotoxics, that affect the immune system and mouth health.
Improving Oral Health
So, what can a smoker or vaper do to start improving their oral health? The clearest step is to quit smoking, but that’s easier said than done. There are ways to begin the process of quitting, like:
But even before that, you should consult a medical professional about the extent of the damage to your oral health. That way you'll know what treatment you'll need to renew your gum line.