Smokers with multiple oral health problems are presented daily in our practice. Tobacco is one of the main enemies of the health of your mouth, but how does its consumption really affect the well-being of your teeth and the organs that make up the oral cavity?
The mouth is the first recipient of tobacco smoke and this smoke affects all the organs that compose it: the teeth, the tongue, the gums, the mucous membranes … The complications derived from tobacco use have a double facet, on the one hand the aesthetic and on the other the one that has to do directly with oral health.
The most obvious aesthetic problem is the staining of the teeth. The material that makes up the teeth begins to gradually stain due to the action of nicotine and tar that dissolve in the saliva and go through the enamel, even reaching the dentine. The tooth begins to yellow, and depending on the degree of smoking or the time spent smoking can acquire brown, brown or even black.
On the other hand, the presence of smoke alters the microbial flora of the mouth, reducing the natural capacity of self-defense of the action of bacteria, which makes it more vulnerable to pathologies and diseases: halitosis, caries and the appearance of tartar, which facilitates the development of gum diseases, such as gingivitis and periodontitis. In addition, the smoke has a vasoconstrictor effect, reducing the blood flow in the gums, which worsens this disease.
The vasoconstrictor effect of tobacco smoke causes the gums not to bleed, but this does not imply that they are not suffering from some type of pathology. It may be the case that the gum has begun to retract, exposing the neck of the tooth, which may begin to move. It is also common to increase tooth sensitivity to cold and heat or the appearance of abscesses and phlegmons.
But periodontitis is not the most serious problem that smoking can cause. Tobacco use is directly related to oral cancer. It is one of the most aggressive dental diseases, not only because of its mortality rate but also because it requires hospital treatment with serious squeal. Therefore, prevention is fundamental.
Oral cancer presents with red or whitish spots on the musk (tongue and cheeks), wounds that do not close and problems with dryness or discomfort when swallowing.
Prevention is fundamental to prevent all these diseases, so the best advice is to quit smoking or reduce considerably the consumption of tobacco. In the case of people who smoke, it is advisable to perform regular check-ups and cleanings to detect the appearance of tartar, decay or gum problems.