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Let’s continue from where we left off in the last blog.
11) Dry Socket: When you take a puff of a cigarette, the negative pressure that occurs upon inhaling can pull the blood clot out of its socket. This results in exposed nerve endings which can be quite painful. In addition, the chemicals in the smoke lead to a decreased blood supply (and hence nutrients) that are needed for healing (see #3 from the last blog). For more information on Dry Socket, please see the blog “Dry Socket: not a pretty sight,” posted on May 30th, 2012.
12) Increased risk of Leukoplakia. This condition produces white patches inside of the mouth. Leukoplakia is not a specific disease entity. It is just a term that is used to describe a white lesion that cannot be characterized as any other definable lesion.
13) Oral cancer: There is an increased risk of developing oral cancer. We will discuss this in a future blog.
14) Tooth decay: Smoking leads to dental caries. This occurs because tobacco can interfere with the production of saliva, which keeps the teeth clean by reducing plaque
15) Quantity, quality and length of time: The more cigarettes you smoke and the greater length of time that you have done so, the worse the effect. In addition, the quality of the cigarette is a factor too I.e., the greater potency of the chemicals, the more harmful it can be.
16) Immune System: Smoking tobacco can adversely affect your body’s immune system making you more susceptible to disease processes.
17) Sinusitis: Smoking can damage the sinuses. The membranes that line your sinuses and nose produce mucous that protectively ‘blankets’ the respiratory system. The lining of the respiratory system is made up of cilia or hair-like structures that clean the nose, sinuses and lungs of airborne matter and bacteria. Smoking causes the cilia to stop working which makes the smoker more prone to infection of the lungs and sinuses.
18) Smokers Lip: This is comparable to a burn.
19) Loss of Jaw Bone: This results in an increase in tooth mobility and shifting and eventually an increase in the number of missing teeth. For an explanation of how smoking leads to loss of bone, see the last blog which was posted on January 31st, 2015.
20) Root Caries: Smoking irritates your gum tissue causing it to recede or pull away from your teeth. This results in an increase in root exposure and subsequently root caries and root sensitivity I.e., too hot/cold and other irritants.
In the next series on smoking and your oral health, we will look at how smoking causes gum disease…until next time.
Yours in good dental health,
Dr. Robert Axelrad