The Effects of Smoking on Your Dental Health

ID-100174023 - hin255Dr Daniel Murphy encourages patients to give up smoking, not only is the habit damaging for your overall body health it has serious consequences the teeth too. A recent study shows that smoking alters the oral biome,  creating high levels of bacterial species in the mouth.

Smoking is widely known to be linked to a range of dental problems including complications after  dental implant placement, root canal therapy and dental extractions  smoking also exacerbates cavities and periodontal disease. Whilst many of these complications are due to a result of the toxins in the smoke the most recent study published in the International Society for Microbial Ecology discovered that smoking also alters the oral biome.

The study evaluated the oral microbiomes of more than 1,200 American adults aged 50 and over. More than 100 were current smokers, and 571 were former smokers. Smokers had significantly higher levels of 150 bacterial species, including Streptococcus, and significantly lower levels of 70 other species, including those linked to breaking down the toxins linked to smoking.

Lack of Oxygen

A lack of oxygen is the primary cause of the complications following dental extractions and root canal treatments. The lack of oxygen in your bloodstream means the infected gums downhill as effectively.

Your blood is a vehicle for delivering oxygen to the various parts of your body as they need it. Your blood vessels are coated with a thin Teflon like layer of cells that ensure  smooth bloodflow. When you smoke this layer is damaged allowing fat and plaque to stick to the vessel walls, the narrowing of the blood vessels restricts the amount of oxygen that reach the disease, this is especially important during the healing phase after any form of dental treatment/surgery.

Tooth Staining

Image source

The nicotine and tar  in tobacco are responsible for the stains many smokers have on their teeth. Also, because the smoking  makes the teeth stickier the bacteria which form dental plaque find it much easier to adhere to the tooth. The double effect of this is that plaque stains more readily than natural teeth does, this  often results in heavily stained and plaque ridden teeth.

Oral Cancer

The links between smoking and cancer are well documented. It is a misconception to think that if you don’t inhale the smoke, particularly types and cigars, then you lower your chance of developing cancer. The truth is if you smoke at all, the smoke comes into contact with the kids use of your mouth and greatly increases your chance of developing oral cancer.

Former smokers had similar oral microbiomes as nonsmokers, which indicates that bacterial colonies do tend to return to a normal, balanced state once smoking stops.

Halitosis or Bad Breath and Smoking

Smoking causes bad breath in one of several ways:

  • Leaving smoke particles in the throat and lungs meaning the smell lingers for ages
  • 1968 report showed that  tobacco smoke contained more than 60 aromatic hydrocarbon, many are carcinogenic and convey s smell. These hydrocarbons, linger in your saliva.
  • By trying out your palate. As this happens anaerobic oral bacteria can thrive and produced the smell.
  • By leaving a thick layer of tar. This tar relay which covers your breathing passages sticks and has a rather distinctive smokers breath smell. How to overcome smokers breath

What is the advice for smokers from a dental health professional?

Of course, the first piece of advice is going to be quit smoking… But you knew that anyway didn’t you!

Visit your dental hygienist. Regular visits to the dental hygienist will help to ensure that you keep your teeth in good condition as possible. The hygienist can remove any built up plaque which will then make the teeth look brighter and healthier, feel fresher and may also remove some of the odour.

Clean your teeth regularly. Cleaning your teeth regularly, including cleaning between the teeth using a brush or floss will also help to keep down the amount of bacterial buildup in your mouth. We recommend brushing for at least 2 min per day, twice a day.

Use a mouthwash. Use a mouthwash in between brushing (not immediately after brushing as you reduce the amount of fluoride in contact with your teeth). Use them fluoride mouthwash in between meals and in between brushing to give your teeth a little extra freshness and protection.

Chew a sugarfree gum after smoking. This will help to stimulate the saliva in your mouth to start flowing again, this can then alleviate the dry mouth that smoking causes. The smell of the gum and the relief of the dry mouth will also help to reduce any bad breath.

Dove Dental Care are a general dental practice in Derby with a keen interest in helping local people improve their oral health.


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Smoking and Plaque Image source & hin255 at