Staining and loose teeth
Stained teeth and whitish patches in the mucous membrane, leukoplakia, are mild harmful effects that are easily spotted by dentists and dental hygienists. The most serious is oral cancer, and higher consumption increases the risk of cancer. Women are at greater risk than men of developing oral cancer.
Compared with a non-smoker, the risk to someone who smokes of being affected by periodontitis is three to five times higher, which means that the tissues supporting the teeth break down as a result of inflammation and infection, causing the teeth to loosen.
At the same time, a smoker’s gums can look healthier than they actually are.
Their gums also tend to bleed less. This is due to poor blood circulation, because nicotine makes the blood vessels contract. Smoking thus rather deceptively masks the start of teeth becoming loose.
In general, smokers have worse teeth than non-smokers, and fewer of them.
Risk of complications
A smoker is at greater risk of complications from implant treatment. The implant may be less well anchored in the jawbone; the bone tissue surrounding the implant may break down; the mucous membrane around the implant may feel worse. Smokers also suffer more than non-smokers from pain and discomfort during implant treatment.
Switch from cigarettes to snus?
Quitting smoking reduces the risk of a number of harmful effects in the mouth, but switching to snus may not be the solution. Certainly, it has not been scientifically proven that it increases the risk of oral cancer, but even snus can damage the gums. Where the snus rests, the mucous membrane thickens and becomes grey and wrinkled. The gums may eventually recede, exposing the root surfaces of the teeth. This can cause the teeth to loosen, and since the root surfaces have no enamel, they are more prone to caries.
Motivation to quit smoking
Quitting smoking results in rapid and visible health effects. Your appearance also improves when stained teeth get back much of their natural colour. Nicer breath may also be enough of a reason to quit. Another aspect is financial – perhaps avoiding costly treatments and dental implants.
Ask your dentist or dental hygienist if you have any questions about smoking and oral health.