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How Does Smoking Affect Oral Health? Warning Signs and Treatment Options in Staten Island

Find out how smoking affects oral health and how you can obtain treatment for smoking-related complications in Staten Island.

There’s no beating around the bush. Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you. There’s a risk of lung disease, heart disease, emphysema, and cancer. It’s a nasty habit, and the damage is not confined to the respiratory system. It affects our immune system, our eyes, and even our joints–and we hear that all the time. But we don’t often talk about what cigarettes can do to our oral health. We need to start educating ourselves, face the facts, and learn the warning signs. 

Here at Healthy Smiles of Staten Island, we're thoroughly exploring the impact smoking has on the teeth, tongue, and gums. From yellowing teeth to increased risk of gum disease and oral cancer, cigarettes pose significant threats to oral health. Join us as we explore this important topic and empower ourselves with the knowledge to make healthier choices. That's what we're talking about today.

Your Mouth is on the Front Line

When we inhale from a cigarette, smoke passes through the filter and floods our mouth, coming into contact with our gums, teeth, and tongue. All of these areas are exposed to harsh chemicals, including ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and formaldehyde. It’s a toxic mix that the body should never be forced to intake. 

The truth is that there are many things that could go wrong. Smoking drastically alters the mouth, increasing the chance that we could contract serious conditions. Let’s take a look at each area separately and what we can expect if we smoke. 

How Does Smoking Affect the Teeth?

Both tar and nicotine stain the teeth, turning them yellow. Over time this effect builds up, causing the teeth to darken. Professional whitening can offer some cosmetic improvements, but it can't fully reverse the damage. 

Smoking also causes bacteria to build up in the mouth. This increases tartar and plaque, which leads to tooth decay. Rates of untreated tooth decay are much higher in people who smoke. Roughly 40% of adult smokers between 20 to 64 years of age have untreated tooth decay. 

How Does Smoking Affect the Tongue?

Smoking can lead to an eccentric condition commonly referred to as black hairy tongue or lingua villosa nigra. It occurs when there is a buildup of dead skin cells on the tongue, which then become stained by tar and nicotine. The condition is benign, but if you contract it, you won’t be getting a date any time soon. 

Smoking also alters the blood supply to the tastebuds, reducing sensitivity to taste. This causes many smokers to over salt their food, which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. 

How Does Smoking Affect the Gums?

Smoking has a profound impact on gum health. This is where things can get sticky. We already talked about how it can cause bacteria to build up. It also dampens the immune system, increasing the risk of gum infections, and it makes it harder for the gums to heal. The result is gum disease, which can break down the tissue and bone that hold our teeth in place. In extreme cases, the teeth could actually fall out. 

Patients who develop this condition maybe need to undergo extractions or more complicated dental operations to maintain the integrity of their jawbone and heal the gums. This is in addition to procedures required to treat the accompanying tooth decay. 

Smoking Increases Risk of Cancer in the Mouth

Smokers are ten times more likely to contract some type of oral cancer. It can manifest several places, including the gums, beneath the tongue, on top of the tongue, or the behind the lower lip. While it is often treatable, many patients who experience this issue ignore it until the problem becomes serious enough to warrant care. This can be a mistake. 

Quitting isn’t easy, but it is necessary if you want to avoid complications. Find resources. Seek help. You don’t have to go it alone, and you’re more likely to quit if you take the time to research the process. 

Receive Treatment For Tobacco-related Complications in Staten Island

Are you a smoker? Are you experiencing tooth decay? Missing teeth? Gum disease? 

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, it might be time to seek treatment. Healthy Smiles of Staten Island provides attentive, compassionate care based on years of expertise. We’ll make you smile again. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Joseph Cipriano today.