Before consumers were knowledgeable about the many detriments of smoking, it was considered a rebellious act that made the individual look tough, mysterious or cool. Even “June Cleaver” type moms thought it added to their mystique to have a cigarette during morning coffee chats with friends. Nowadays it is well known that cigarette smoking affects the body negatively in many ways, including the teeth and mouth area.
Discoloration of teeth
Over time, smoking results in discoloration of the teeth. This affects the smile and overall attractiveness of the person. Although teeth whitening toothpastes are plentiful, discoloration from long-term smoking is difficult to remove with this treatment alone. Professional whitening treatments are available at dentist’s office but they are costly and time consuming. If the individual does not quit smoking, the discoloration comes back over time.
Halitosis (or bad breath)
Smoking results in temporary and long-term bad breath. Individuals who smoke often feel that a mint, chewing gum or mouthwash takes care of this problem but it is only temporary. This results in the individual frantically reaching for a breath mint when someone walks up to them and starts talking. The smoke smell is absorbed in the person’s hair, clothing, car and home so the odor lingers.
Other Dental Problems
Cigarette use leads to an increased buildup of tartar and plaque on the surface of the teeth and this increases chance of decay and gum disease. The salivary glands in a smoker’s mouth are at a higher risk of inflammation. Other dental problems that increase from long-term smoking are loss of bone in the jaw area and leukoplakia. A smoker’s mouth does not heal as quickly after dental surgeries. If the individual requires dental implants, the success rate is not as high as with a non-smoker. People who smoke also have a higher chance of getting oral cancer. If the person stops smoking, these various risks decrease over time with regular and consistent dental care.
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