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Let’s look at the effects of smoking on your oral health:
1) Bad breath aka Smokers Breath: We learned in the last blog that over 4000 chemicals enter your mouth from one puff of cigarette smoke….this leads to bad breath.
2) Gum disease: Nicotine causes a narrowing of blood vessels (or vasoconstriction) which decreases blood circulation. Decreased oxygen supply to the gingiva or any other tissues of the body is never a good thing…..please read on.
3) Delayed healing after gum (periodontal) surgery, implant placement and tooth extractions: This ties in with the #2 above (gum disease). A decreased blood supply to the gums means less nutrients and oxygen that is needed for proper healing after these ‘procedures’. Individuals who smoke are therefore not ideal candidates for implants. Blood flow has been shown to decrease by 70 % during the smoking of a single cigarette. In addition, due to the decreased nutrient supply needed for proper health, the gums and supporting bone become more vulnerable to bacterial infections.
4) Staining of the teeth, fillings and the tongue. The staining occurs due to the sticky tar deposits.
5) Smokers Palate: Also known as Nicotine Stomatitis. The roof of the mouth becomes white with spots on it. Each of these spots project outwards and there is a small red dot at the center of them. This red dot is the opening of the duct of a gland. This is inflammation of the salivary gland openings in the roof of the mouth. The salivary glands are irritated and the actual ducts are inflamed. Nicotine Stomatitis is due to heat not chemicals, so it is not a cancerous condition: It goes away when you stop smoking.
6) Inflammation of salivary gland openings on the floor of the mouth. The floor of the mouth is located in the lower jaw…..think the opposite direction of the palate.
7) Smokers’ melanosis: These are brown spots inside of the mouth. The pigmentation is the result of cigarette smoke causing:
a)Stimulation of melanin production (brown pigments in the mouth/skin).
b)Binding of melanin to the compounds in tobacco smoke.
8) Oral Thrush: This is a fungal infection in the mouth.
9) Coated Tongue: This consists of a layer of food particles, bacteria and ‘epithelial’ debris which coat the surface of the tongue…..this is also known as Hairy Tongue.
10) Loss of sense of both taste and smell. The chemicals in the smoke affect the sensory receptors on the tongue, impairing both taste and smell.
There are ten other points which I would like to mention, however for now I will stop here…..we’ll look at the rest in the next blog.
Yours in good health,
Dr. Robert Axelrad, Brampton Dentist